The Persona games are long. I mean, they’re really ridiculously long. One playthrough of any of the recent three Persona games can easily take up to a hundred hours, and with Persona 5 Royal, that playtime is about to go up even further.
I won’t mince words here. When I first played the original Persona 5, I managed to clear the game in about 85 hours, and that was with me rushing and skipping voiced dialogue once I’d finished reading the text. When Atlus claimed that Persona 5 Royal would add another 20 to 30 hours of content on top of that, they weren’t lying. My playtime is at 120 hours right now, and again, I was definitely rushing a little to get my review out in time.
Atlus certainly went all out with the new content: two new Confidants, expanded stories and events for certain characters, new abilities for everyone, improved combat mechanics, huge Mementos overhaul… the list goes on. The amount of new content in Persona 5 Royal is insanely staggering and overwhelming, and even before you dive into the meat of the actual new story stuff, you’ll have a lot of new mechanics and little additions to contend with.
So, is all that stuff worth playing through this massive JRPG yet again? The answer, as much as it might sound like a total cop out, is that it depends.
You see, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Persona 5. You can read my review to find out why, but my complaints centered around the main cast of characters being underdeveloped and feeling like missed opportunities. I went into Royal believing that this would be the definitive version of the game, and that all the new content would make me finally love Persona 5.
Alas, it wasn’t quite meant to be.
Persona 5 Royal is certainly the definitive version of this game, and I did enjoy my time with it. All 120 hours of it. That said, it didn’t do much –if anything at all– to address my concerns with the way the main cast was handled.
My initial argument still sticks: apart from Morgana, Futaba, and Makoto to some extent, the main characters just don’t feel relatable or very likable at all. The issue stems from the fact that they don’t get very much time dedicated to proper story arcs that would develop them fully into beloved characters, as well as the fact that there just aren’t that many group outings or story events to really cement the bond between the Phantom Thieves.
In addition to that, the pacing of the story still feels incredibly uneven, as it begins to wander and meander a little around the halfway point before things actually start happening. My original complaints still stuck with me all throughout Persona 5 Royal, and if you felt the same way about the game as I did, this won’t change your mind.
And yet, I occasionally find myself swayed by the other things Atlus added into this game. The new characters, Kasumi and Maruki, are just wonderful additions to the story, and they certainly have a well-written and very satisfying story arc to follow. The problem is that the payoff only comes right at the very end of the game, which means you’ll need to sit through all the same dribble before you finally get there.
There are other things to distract you, of course, such as the new area with Kichijoji, expanded dungeons, new boss mechanics, and other cool quality of life improvements with Persona fusion. I’ll put it this way: if you already loved the original Persona 5, then by all means, dive right into Persona 5 Royal. It’s a great game, and I think you’ll love it.
If, however, you weren’t all that impressed by the original game, and if you’re going into this, thinking it’ll wow you the way Persona 4 Golden wowed you on the PS Vita all those years ago, I’ve got sad news, friendo. It won’t. I certainly don’t regret playing this game all the way through for the second time, but in all honesty, it’s probably not a game that I’ll revisit anytime soon, if ever.
Now, back to Persona 4 Golden.