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Prepare for Your Heart to be Stolen: A Look Back at Persona 5 Royal

Image from Atlus

Persona 5 is the latest game to be getting a mobile spinoff. According to Verge, the newly announced Persona 5: Phantom of the Night is currently in development for Android, iOS, and Windows, but it seems to be a Chinese exclusive. Additionally, the game looks to be a faithful adaptation of Persona 5, with all new characters, including a new protagonist at the helm. The trailer shows a new owl sidekick who can transform into a vehicle like Morgana, along with a new Velvet Room attendant, and the protagonist balancing their school and personal lives, which is Persona 5. There is even the fan-favorite track, "Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There," to bring a dose of nostalgia. 

So, to deal with the fact that it may be a while, if at all, before Western fans, here is a look back at why Persona 5 Royal was a fantastic game and why you should play it if you haven't.

Atlus' Persona 5 Royal is a masterpiece that builds on a fantastic original game, Persona 5. Persona 5 Royal, or P5R, is a remake of Persona 5, released for North American audiences in 2017. Despite this, the game does not feel like a shallow attempt to revive and market the game to a new audience. 

All players of P5R can see the care, such as the graphics, design, narrative, and characters present in this game. However, veteran players of the series will quickly notice some of the changes from the beginning. For the most part, the story and characters from the original remain the same. One way P5R improves the original game is by including a fan-favorite character, Haru, in early scenes. Initially, her appearance comes almost at the very end of the game without any indication that she existed. 

From the new opening to the end credits and everything in between, P5R was anything but a cash grab. On the other hand, downloadable content (DLC) is another story that will be addressed later. 

The game starts in the middle of a heist. This is the tutorial level so players can understand the game's basic mechanics. It also gives players a taste of the story that awaits them in the future. 

Rewind a bit, and we land on the protagonist, a character who is a blank slate for the player. While walking home one night, the protagonist spots someone who needs assistance. He steps in and is falsely accused of assaulting a man. 

He is sent to Tokyo on probation for a year to stay out of trouble. There, he discovers an app on his phone that allows him to enter the subconsciousness, also known as a palace, of people with distorted desires.

The protagonist and his newfound friends can also summon personas. Personas are their spirit of rebellion and are used to fight in these palaces. They are like Pokemon, just not as cute.

He and his friends become phantom thieves. They use their ability to steal the distorted desires of people who prey on the weak. These desires manifest as a treasure and are considered their hearts. 

The protagonist forms bonds with citizens in Tokyo known as confidants. By spending time with these confidants, they rank up and provide benefits such as gaining more experience points or better battle abilities. 

P5R has added extra story content in the form of a third semester. This third semester adds over thirty hours of new gameplay to the hundred-plus hours of Persona 5. In addition, there are new personas to make your own, an entirely new palace to explore, and secret bosses to take on. 

The faces of this new semester are two new characters, a first-year gymnastic prodigy, Kasumi, and a mental health counselor, Dr. Maruki. Most of their story unlocks during the third semester, and players can befriend and rank up their confidant levels early on to get some of the best benefits in the game. For example, spending time with Dr. Maruki allows players to gain more ability points to use magic in palaces. 

Nothing is locked to the third semester except for the final palace, its personas, and some story content. From the tutorial level, combat is redesigned to feel more immersive and rewarding. Players no longer have to conserve ammo for their guns when fighting. This is because ammo automatically refills after every battle. This allows gunplay to be a viable option to take out the rank-and-file enemies while conserving your SP for more challenging enemies such as mini-bosses. 

Speaking of enemies, one of the fiercest enemies in the base game has now become even more challenging. But Atlus has thrown players a lifeline. Thanks to the reworking of various abilities, players can stand up to this enemy and quickly take them down with some planning.

Another new aspect of combat are finishers called showtimes. This is when two members of your team join forces to defeat an enemy. Showtimes are animated cutscenes and do not get old even after watching one for the hundredth time. 

P5R has also received a graphics update. Character portraits or sprites were redesigned to a 4K level and added to the game. In addition, the user interface has been reworked and flows seamlessly, allowing players to explore more without controls sticking.

There are a variety of new areas to explore. One new area players can unlock and explore early on in the game is Kichijoji. Here, players can visit a temple to meditate and gain more SP. They can also spend time with their team members at a darts and billiards shop to level up various combat skills through minigames. There is also a jazz club where special abilities can be unlocked. 

The original palaces have also been redesigned. In addition, there are new explorable areas thanks to a new tool, the grapplehook. You can find various treasure chests hidden away or 'Will Seeds,' which, when combined, give you powerful abilities.

Despite improving many areas of the game, Atlus still falls short in some. Their DLC is entirely cosmetic but costly. All DLCs can be bought together in a pack that costs the same as the base game; $60. This is a much cheaper option as separately buying them costs more.

However, the DLC is not needed to enjoy or even complete the game. Based on personal experience, you can easily spend 100-plus hours in the game and still want more. The game solves this with a new game plus where you can start fresh or take all your gear and other benefits.

P5R has managed to compete with the Final Fantasy 7 Remake for players' hearts despite being released three weeks after it and both being Playstation exclusives. IGN, one of the top video game news websites, gave P5R a perfect score of 10, while Final Fantasy was an 8. 

For perspective, the original Final Fantasy 7 was released in 1997 and is considered one of the best JRPGs. The remake was one of the most anticipated games. The original Persona 5 was released just three years ago. 

Persona 5 Royal is a game with a fantastic story full of interesting characters who feel realistic. The changes made just improved an already excellent game. Persona 5 Royal will hold a special place in your heart long after you've completed it, even after multiple playthroughs. And while it may be some time before Persona 5: Phantom of the Night or even Persona 6 is released to Western audiences, P5R is an excellent substitute to tide yourself over - even if you've beaten it before, especially if you have never played the game.

Edited by: Whitney Edna Ibe


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