Note: Some aspects of this post may seem vague, because I REFUSE to spoil anything.
‘Persona 5 Royal’, the updated version of the original ‘Persona 5’ that I played back in 2017, released on the 31st of March, 2020 here in the USA. I’ve been playing it ever since, dedicating a large chunk of my free time to it each day. At the end of my playthrough, I sat back and thought “I’m going to have to think about that. I don’t want to rush my thoughts.” So I took a day, thought it over, and concluded that it had surpassed every game I’ve ever played but two. This does not mean that it is “better” than them in some truly quantifiable metric. What this means is that, as far as what I enjoy in games (story arcs, character relations, creative gameplay and emotional messages), it had surpassed all but two.
The original ‘Persona 5’ was a game I heavily enjoyed, but it had a few problems for me personally that kept it from cracking even my top 20 games. The battle system allowed for a lot, but always felt a bit restrictive and like it didn’t flow as well as it could. It felt like there could have been more sprinkled here and there to make some of the integral day-to-day mechanics flow better and to have more options. I wished for a bit more exploration of the emotional aspects of the game’s underlying messages. There needed to be more development for a certain character. And finally, the game’s ending was not one I particularly enjoyed… feeling just a tad rushed after the crazy final boss.
‘Persona 5 Royal’ fixes those problems.
The battle system has been expanded quite significantly. You have more options than ever during the day-to-day relationship and character building. The emotional aspects of the story are brought even more to the front and center of the plot by the two new characters that ‘Royal’ adds. That character I mentioned from the original has significantly more screen time. Lastly – and most importantly – the ending is no longer rushed, but fully fleshed out, heavily utilizing the messages and themes brought up by the original main game, so long as you unlock the new extra semester that this version adds.
Taken together, the new content (especially the two new characters), mechanics and the far better ending after the original final boss show what ‘Persona 5’ was capable of with just a little bit of a push.
For me personally, it has risen to be the best JRPG I have played so far, and my third favorite game yet.