Genre: Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG)
Original Release: October 31, 2019 (Japan), March 31, 2020 (worldwide)
Developers: Atlus, P Studio
Publisher: Atlus (Japan), Atlus USA (US), Deep Silver, Sega
Platform: PlayStation 4
Boy, where do I even begin with this? I mean it’s more Persona 5, and you already know that I really like Persona 5 from the previous article I did on it. So that means it’s just as awesome, right?
For the most part, yes! There are a few things that I prefer in the original Persona 5 over Royal, but I’ll cover that when we get to it. For now, just know that P5R is an expansion to P5 that makes some significant quality of life changes, overhauls the dungeons to accommodate the new grappling hook mechanic, and reworks some confidants while introducing two new ones: Kasumi and the school guidance counselor Dr. Maruki.
I would be retreading a lot of ground if I were to discuss every single detail in the games, so instead, let me touch on the changes they’ve made: Morgana now lets you go out at night most evenings, and if you’ve gone into a palace you don’t have to go right to bed. In fact, you can still do things around Leblanc, like cleaning it (netting you some kindness points as well as brownie points with coffee dad), studying to improve your knowledge, or watching a show or playing a game if you have the requisite items.
Similarly, there’s the new Thieves’ Den. You can only access it if you’re not in a palace, but it’s a neat little feature you can even get to through the main menu! It’s mostly a place to listen to music and check out art you’ve unlocked and decorate as you see fit, but you can also play Tycoon here! As far as I can tell, it’s essentially President, but with a Persona flair. You can choose between three difficulties, and you can play with every one of your party members, but only three at a time.
In addition, there’s a new area you can explore with your compatriots called Kichijoji. There you can meditate at a temple, increasing your SP, visit a jazz club with one of your teammates to increase their stats, or play darts to increase your synergy with teammates (leveling up their baton pass, increasing HP and SP recovery) or billiards to improve your technical damage. It lends an extra sense of unity to the ragtag bunch of misfits that you’ve named to your liking.
Past that? A lot of the game is identical. A few changes to cutscenes to include Kasumi, or Dr. Maruki, or both, but past that they aren’t around for a good chunk of the game. I’ll admit that I would have loved to see a lot more of them than I did in-game, but that would have required a massive overhaul of the game, more than they already had up to this point. And I don’t know if that was feasible, at least not over the span of P5R’s development anyway. Dungeons do have a new collectible called a Will Seed though. If you collect all three, they’ll merge into an accessory that will give you an edge in combat, either by upping your stats or, in some cases, providing special protections. And you can even upgrade these if you’ve met the right criteria!
And then, provided you’ve done the right things, we get to the true ending segment. I’m…conflicted on this one. I felt like P5 ended on a really satisfying note, even if it left me feeling empty (something few games manage to achieve), but I was also thrilled to see more content. It even answers a few questions I had about how Persona 5 Scramble can exist given the original ending. But…the end boss was kind of a letdown to me. My friend Scott argues that it was perfect, but maybe I was just expecting something heart-wrenching like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 days. Or at least something on the scale of the set piece boss in Sekiro. That’s my own fault though. Like there was nothing inherently wrong with the fight proper, but it just…lacked that punch I was looking for if that makes sense. I don’t really know how to put it without spoiling the ending proper and I don’t want to do that.
See, Final Fantasy VII Remake was sort of an exception in that regard, considering that it was literally a remake of one of the best-known games in recent history. (*NOTE: As far as I’m aware. I could be very wrong here*) I don’t know if there was a way for me to discuss it properly without spoiling some points changed between the two. P5 and P5R don’t have that same thing going on, so I would prefer not to go into detail if I can help it. It’s one of those games where it’s far better to experience it for yourself.
That said, I’m going to heartily recommend P5R. I don’t know if I can do so completely as opposed to P5, but it is worth your time. The true ending material adds about forty hours of content and if trophy hunting is your thing, you can get the platinum in one playthrough if you know what you’re doing.
Also, Morgana is the best wingman.
If you’re in need of a good JRPG to scratch an itch, P5R will fill that niche. Or if you just want some great mechanics, P5R will also fit in the bill perfectly.
Go play P5R. I loved it, and I hope you will too.