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access_time March 17, 2020 at 6:00 AM in Previews by David Poole

Review in Progress | Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal, the update to the popular 2016 JRPG Persona 5, releases at the end of the month. We’ve been infiltrating palaces and stealing hearts for the past several days, having a blast. As many may know, Persona 5 isn’t a short game, and Royal is no different. While we don’t have our review ready for the embargo, we plan to have it ready before launch. In the meantime, here are some of our thoughts so far.

Atlus and P-Studio are well known for making enhancements to their stable of games. Last year, they did it with Catherine: Full Body, and before that, Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden. While this is common practice for them, this is the first time they’ve done it on the same platform. Persona 5 Royal may be an enhancement, but it’s going to feel pretty familiar. This is partly due to a lack of graphical upgrades, though the new version is PS4 Pro enhanced in 4K. Luckily, this is still one stellar RPG experience.

While the game may not boast a large leap in graphics, it still has several other upgrades to the core game. These differences will start to become clear right from the beginning, as players will experience some of the new features firsthand. One of those new features includes the new grappling hook, which gives new traversal options in palaces. This will allow players to access new areas in previously existing locales. It’s also incredibly cool looking. Another new feature players will see early on is the new character, Kasumi Yoshizawa. Even though she won’t become available until much later, players will still get to see her in good time. All of this is just the tutorial, and there’s much more in store.

As mentioned earlier, a lot of this will be familiar ground for fans of the original. School life, daily tasks, part-time jobs, and more will continue as part of your various duties. Despite the familiarity, vets won’t have it so easy, as the game remixes elements to freshen the experience. Part of this is different questions in class, new confidant interactions, and more ways to improve stats. There’s even a new confidant in a student counselor with Takuto Maruki, who helps to improve mental tenacity. Several new elements continue to pile up as you get further in the game, including new areas, social activities, and more.

When it comes to combat and palaces, there’s even more to explore. Aside from the previously mentioned grappling hook, palaces offer new features as well. This includes new puzzles, routes, and even new enemy encounters. As for those new enemy encounters, there’s a new enemy type new to Royal: Disaster Shadows. These enemies are variants of normal shadows, though with a distinctive veil pattern. Disaster shadows do not attack on their own, and only counter incoming attacks. Upon defeating them, they’ll explode and deal damage to other shadows in the battle, and they’ll even drop special items. This makes for new strategies, even if they’re not as common as normal enemy types.

Palaces also add new items known as Will Seeds, which players will collect from hidden rooms. There are three Will Seeds to each palace, and collecting all three will grant players a powerful new accessory. It adds to the current setup and makes for a little bit more variety, especially for veterans. Bosses also include new phases, which add a bit more flair to the battle. Kamoshida’s boss battle for example will call in backup from some unexpected guests. The Phantom Thieves will also have new abilities like Showtimes, where two characters perform a special attack together. Overall, these new features help to make infiltrating palaces more interesting, both for newcomers and returning players.

One of the biggest early changes that players will find is the new Mementos. When players enter, they’ll come across a new character by the name of Jose, a mysterious little boy. Jose collects flowers and stamps that players will pick up as they delve deeper into Mementos, which players can then trade for items or changes to the cognition. This includes more experience, more money, and more items. Jose also hosts the all new Thieves’ Den, which is a virtual gallery where Joker can explore art, movies and more. He can even play a card game called Tycoon, which is a pretty fun addition.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m slowly making progress to more of the new content. The game is supposed to offer over 30 hours of brand new content, and I’m finding more each passing hour. Persona 5 Royal is also supposed to include all the DLC from the original release, though it seems at the time of this publishing, that content is unavailable. We’ll update the moment we see changes in this, but it will be nice to have access to the costumes and extra Personas.

While I find myself enjoying the game, it hasn’t been that long since the original. The story and presentation are still fantastic, so that helps to make it entertaining. While it’s a trip down memory lane, the new content may still be enough to win me over. At least trophy hunters won’t have to worry about playing the game multiple times to get a Platinum trophy. Persona 5 Royal launches on March 31st, 2020, exclusively for the PlayStation 4. Our review should be up sometime before then, so stay tuned!

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