Persona 5 Royal

I finally finished Persona 5 Royal, after many years of picking at it and getting distracted by other games and life and all of that. It's a shame, but I can't really start my thoughts on this game without getting the following out of my system — it didn't hit me the same way Persona 4 Golden, which I absolutely adore (I'd call it life-changing, almost, in some way), but it's still a very good game, and I suspect there may be some people who find an emotional attachment to P5R the same way I did with P4G.

The good: I loved the style of the game, and honestly, thought the overall plot of the game was a huge improvement over Persona 4 Golden. Perhaps the theme of it didn't hit the same way as P4G's searching for truth, but P5R does a far better job tying together the story into a whole narrative that actually feels complete. The combat is excellent, building on the Persona formula, and Shoji Meguro of course put out some bangers. Those elements combined made for a very enjoyable and engaging experience (at the pace I could play it, anyway).

However, and this is a large disappointment for me, almost none of the Confidants this go-around stuck with me. Many were fine, but I think the only ones I really look back on fondly are Kawakami's and Makoto's (who is the best girl, by the way), but even those didn't land with me the same way some of P4G's did. Overall, good, but just not doing much for me. Also, the game is hilariously easy, and — probably specific to Royal — it's just chock full of so many things and options and bonuses that you can pretty much ignore half of it and still coast through the game. Guns are an afterthought (after being totally pointless in the base game). You practically never need to use items in combat. A lot of the fights are trash mobs, and the bosses exploitable.

So, in the end, a very good game, but its faults keep it from my upper echelon. Also, disappointingly in some way, I platinumed the game on my first playthrough without a guide, and that platinum doesn't include filling out the compendium or doing all of the Confidants, nor is there a super-fun extra-challenging boss to tackle. I blew through the Reaper before the end of the game, even! So, sadly, I have New Game+ available to me, but I don't really have much of a reason to get into it again unless I want to see the characters' max rank stories, which, as above, well…

But, enough negativity. It's a very good Persona game, and definitely worth the time to play it. But I know where my heart lies.

Grade: B+ (2024-04-11, PS4)

2024-04-15 addendum: I learned there are some optional bosses to go through, not sure how I missed that while searching around the first time. Maybe I'll get to those when I have some P5R nostalgia and do a NG+ playthrough.