The mainline Persona series is finally coming to Xbox. Persona 5 Royal was originally released in 2020 and it’s dropping into Game Pass on Console, PC, & Cloud on day one. I’ve never played one of these games before but after playing as much as I could and seeing the story through for this embargo I get the love.
In This Metaverse You Have Legs
I’ll do my best to give an outline of the plot without divulging any big details because the story is great and should be experienced spoiler-free if possible. Your protagonist is a young man accused of assault against a powerful man that had been forcing himself on a terrified woman. After being expelled from high school and ostracized as a juvenile delinquent you’re sent off to a new city and school to serve out your probation. Slowly over the course of more than 100 hours, you’ll unlock your latent rebellious powers in the “metaverse”. This is sounding like a Mark Zuckerberg wet dream, but unlike that horrific mental imagery, the sites on offer here are well worth seeing.
Without breaking down any more of the how or why let’s get into what you’ll be doing. Days are broken up into a linear calendar system (with some flash-forwards and backward occasionally). Every day has several cycles that can either be automatically set and driven by the plot or open for your own choosing on how to spend your time in and outside of school. The “royal” part of the name comes from this being a re-release of the original, which was only a few years old. Combat, plot, and pretty much everything has been reworked and expanded upon including a true ending that you can only experience if you’ve met a few requirements.
While the plot is worth experiencing on your own I highly suggest using a guide to make sure at the very least that you get to see the full ending of the game. It was one of my favorite parts to experience, though unfortunately, that was on YouTube. I only had three days from the time of getting this review code until I had to write this review. I put about 35 hours into the game in total in that time and saw the majority of the gameplay systems before watching the rest of the story on YouTube. It’s not ideal, but sadly the reality is that a review like this gets 99% of its viewership in the first few days of everything going up. Let’s get back into the day-to-day structure and then focus on the quality of this port.
This is a giant game, though not a massive install. Through clever use of only having a few major locations, you’ll spend a lot of time in what is in general a small map for most of the game. Days can be either automatic in their content or up to your choice, as I said before, and that is where using a guide for a first-timer can be key. You have a variety of stats and relationship scores that must reach certain thresholds by a set timeframe and if you don’t you will miss out on a lot of content. The first of these is Joker’s (the codename for your character) basic stats. They range from knowledge to guts, charm, and more. Various actions such as correctly answering questions in school, solving crossword puzzles, and watching movies at a theater can raise your stats but will typically cause time to advance. An example would be that you’re home from school, it’s now evening, and you’re allowed to go anywhere in the city. Do you want to go work part-time at a beef bowl shop or hang out with a confidant to raise your level with them? Either action will be the last thing you do that day before time moves forward to the next morning. The balance on where to go and what to do can be tough to keep up with if you’re a first-timer like me, and I quickly found myself using a few helpful guides I found online to make sure I didn’t miss anything major.
Those confidants I mentioned are either members of your eventual crew or friends you make throughout the story. Spending time with them while having certain personas either equipped or in reserve can allow your rank with them to increase and offer up both in-game or combat upgrades or be key to progressing the story. Your personas are “shadows” you’ll meet while on a mission. I’ll keep it vague to keep spoilers down, but this is the combat side of the game where your inner rebellious desires manifest as masks from which a powerful creature is summoned. There are different types of personas each with its own type, move set, and look. You can combine them to create new ones and the system is a lot of fun overall.
It would take me thousands of words to cover all the various systems here from buying new weaponry to consumables, part-time jobs, all the various areas you can unlock fast travel to, and more. I’m mainly going to focus on the quality of this port as I reviewed the game on an Xbox Series X and it looks and runs fantastically.
Graphically the game is crisp, though cinematics are a bit fuzzy in comparison. I recently played through Soul Hackers 2, and while I liked that game and its style it doesn’t hold a candle to Persona 5 Royal. This game is a constant vibe, and that extends to every aspect. The normal day-to-day life areas are well rendered, and the framerate never buckles. I fell in love with the various areas of the metaverse that you’ll explore, with their vibrant colors and out-there design. The effects on abilities and in the post-fight screen match the jazzy synths to create something unique and chill.
As impressive as the soundtrack is the English dub nearly matches it. Only a few characters felt a bit cheesy, with the majority of the vocal cast doing a great job of matching each character. I had originally started with the Japanese audio and subtitles but after giving the English dub a go I ended up sticking with it for the rest of my playtime. There is a lot of text that isn’t voiced and I knew I was going to be reading enough as is, so I was happy to give my eyes a break whenever possible.
Persona 5 Royal features a lot of fast travel, as whenever you have free time you can instantly travel back and forth from anywhere you’ve unlocked. Load screens were never longer than two seconds, which made hopping around the city a pleasurable experience. I used Quick Resume my entire time playing and had zero issues at all. Everything felt rock solid, though there is an online aspect of the game that may suffer a bit at launch since it’s going directly into Game Pass. I did find the opening section of the game to be too slow to get me into the action and far too many days were automated so that I had no choice in what I wanted to do. If you can get through those initial 10 or so hours though the game opens up more and more into something truly remarkable.
Persona 5 Royal is a fantastic game. Excellent turn-based combat is carried further by gorgeous visuals, an incredible soundtrack, and a story filled with brilliant twists and turns. It’s available day one on Xbox Game Pass and if you’re looking for a game to put over 100 hours into (conservatively) then do yourself a favor and give this one a go.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Available on||Xbox, Playstation, Switch, PC|
|Release Date||October 21st, 2022|
|Rated||M for Mature|