Dreams and Reality: An Overview of Persona 5 Royal

The original Persona 5 was such an incredible experience to me, so much so that I labelled it my favourite game of all time — a pretty large claim for someone who has been playing games for almost 20 years now. I wrote that over a year ago now and I still stand by it, so I guess it wasn’t just a spur of the moment emotion.

However, not long after that experience, Persona 5 Royal (which I’ll refer to as P5R from here onwards, and the original Persona 5 as ‘P5’) was announced and I was obviously very excited — the idea of more content for the game that had already (excuse the pun) stolen my heart was obviously a very exciting one.

The only unfortunate side of that announcement was that it wouldn’t release in Europe until late March — effectively, April — a lifetime compared to the October release Japan was getting…

I scrambled (way too late, admittedly) to find a special copy of P5R to order, eventually pre-ordered the Phantom Thieves Edition with all the fancy shwag and all I had to do was wait… Eventually, the end of March arrived and it was a sweet, sweet moment when she arrived.

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Prior to this, I’ve played through P5 three times, the most recent of those around Christmas time, so I’d be somewhat fresh of the game but not too fresh for the April release. I wanted to be able to tell the little things that might be different between P5 and P5R.

I have a notebook for almost everything, including a miscellaneous notebook for, well, exactly that. As I played through P5R, I took notes on basically my thoughts on the new things, maybe things I hadn’t realised or something I wanted to remember — whatever. Many pages, and many hours later, I have beaten P5R and now that it is conquered, I wanted to write about.

So that’s what’s happening today. This is mostly a story and character introspective, so those thoughts will come first and the gameplay stuff will come later.

Obviously this should go without saying, but there are spoilers for not only the original P5 but P5R too, so fair warning. I’ll probably add some of my favourite screen shots from the game’s cinematics along the way, these also contain spoilers. If you do not want to be spoiled…STOP, now.

So, I guess the major thing that was being pushed for P5R, the major addition, was the introduction of a new Persona user, whose name is Kasumi Yoshizawa.

It’s implied from the E3 Trailer that while she’s a Persona user, she doesn’t seem to agree with the Phantom Thieves, certainly, she didn’t belong to them (which makes her different to most Persona users in Persona 5) — that was the impression I got at the time. It was confirmed very quickly in the escape from the casino that Kasumi was not a member of the Phantom Thieves, as she aides in your escape in an added scene (which was a good introduction to her).

Her ‘anti’-Phantom Thieves stance isn’t so much of a thing in the actual game itself but the point remains in that Yoshizawa is not a member of the Phantom Thieves. In fact, her role in this game is not what you would have expected heading into P5R.

I guess, in retrospect, the early Kasumi appearance was not really an outlier of what was to come. Sure, she pops up every now during the story and then but she’s not as much of a feature in this game as, say, the size of her character on the cover-art would suggest.

Let’s talk about the story, which is the main thing I kept coming back to once I had finished my 121 hour playthrough.

I’d say 90% of the core story is largely the same — Akechi, Shido, Yaldabaoth, and obviously everything before that, all pretty much the same. That’s a good thing because the story of the original P5 was absolutely brilliant. My thoughts I wrote about the story from P5 still absolutely stand.

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However, the most extreme changes from P5 to P5R’s story comes once you defeat the final boss of P5, Yaldabaoth, and are lingering in Shibuya on Christmas Eve evening — which is about 100 hours in in P5R.

Instead of turning yourself in on Christmas morning as was the case in P5, Goro Akechi, who was presumed dead, conveniently arrives and says that he will turn himself in, leaving Joker to celebrate Christmas with the Phantom Thieves.

Then on New Year’s, things get weird and you obviously learn that Dr. Maruki, yep, the handsome counsellor who you thought pretty much nothing of — on the same day as you defeated Yaldabaoth — was successful in his endeavour to realise a reality where everyone’s dream came true, and the added third term to P5R has you infiltrate Maruki’s Palace with the idea to steal his heart and return reality to what it once was, what it should be.

Maruki is the final arc of the story, and while ensuring the true reality is restored is obviously important, I still think the Yaldabaoth arc should have been the final arc of the main story — it’s still the bigger threat. I think Atlas tried to top Yaldabaoth in some way by making sure that the Maruki arc showdown was as ‘epic’ (they sure went for it) and ‘important’ as Yaldabaoth’s, but it just isn’t. It really just isn’t.

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As the fake-reality ending showed, life would’ve still carried on on had Joker agreed to Maruki’s reality. It’s actually eery how happy that ending actually is for it not being the True Ending.

With Yaldabaoth, it’s life or death of not just the Phantom Thieves, but of everything, and since he was the one pulling the strings for basically 100 hours of the game (not to mention years in the lives of Goro Akechi and Joker), I still see him as the main antagonist of Persona 5 and his defeat should be the final player input in P5, not the 12 or so hours that Maruki is the target.

This should’ve been a post-game episode, perhaps similar to the Delta Emerald post-game adventure of Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, for example — something that shouldn’t negate the real victory after beating your main goal but a collective problem to tackle afterwards. I’m struggling to think of other examples, but you get the idea…

The Maruki arc should not have been part of the main story itself but something after the main credits. I understand the issue with that, so the obvious question spawns: how else do you handle it?

I think the Maruki arc should’ve come either before or after Okumura, so that it wouldn’t interfere with obviously the aftermath of Sae-san’s Palace, which obviously leads directly into the Shido arc which, in turn, leads directly into Yaldabaoth. Everything that has taken place leads to Yaldabaoth. Everything. This is not the case for Maruki — he shouldn’t have been the endgame.

I understand that’s basically impossible, because of how it has to do with the fact that Mementos and the real world are still fused and Maruki is able to take advantage of that, and happens to do so when Yaldabaoth falls (not that he knew anything about that, of course).

The Maruki arc, for me, lasted about 13 hours from when I last saved before fighting Yaldabaoth, which is far too long to finish the game after what I view as the true evil of P5 and P5R, again, as much as they seemingly tried to make the endgame of the Maruki arc more significant as Yaldabaoth… It just isn’t.

Heck, even Shido feels like a lifetime ago when it’s all said and done. Shido was the main antagonist right until hour 95 out of 100, we’ll say, and it’s a quick turnaround from the end of his arc to the Yaldabaoth arc. Between the confession and all of the events that unfold on Christmas Eve, that’s only a matter of days. That’s nothing, so you don’t feel too far removed from the Shido arc when the game is finished. This no longer applies in P5R.

Then comes the events after dealing with Maruki.

As you near the end of the arc, you learn that the day you defeat Yaldabaoth is the same day where the “actualisation” occurs, starting at the moment the previously deceased Goro Akechi reappears and reality would pick up from there, since in true reality he wouldn’t have been able to bail Joker out of having to turn himself in because, well, sadly, Akechi is no longer here in the true reality…

I had been hoping that the calendar would return to Christmas Eve, the moment that Sae-san asked you to turn yourself in and then the original ending of P5 (plus the added bits that were possible, like White Day) would play out from there: you turn yourself into the police on Christmas Day and the rest of the Phantom Thieves would rally around their incarcerated leader and spur themselves and others into action to have him released.

That would’ve been something I would’ve truly been happy with, minus the long gap between defeating Yaldabaoth and the actual ending of the game. As soon as I found out that moment reality would begin again would be from that point on Christmas Eve, I had hope that would take place.

That’d make the most sense for everyone, right?

You’d tie up loose ends with Yoshizawa later as you would other confidants (since she’s not a member of the Phantom Thieves, they come first), you assumed Maruki would be dead (which I wouldn’t have been upset with), Akechi is still this villain who got his opportunity at redemption (twice now) and dies a hero, you’d get out of jail in January (since the third term didn’t technically happen in reality) and the animated sequences from P5 wouldn’t go to waste/be retconned.

No. Instead of any of that, it’s still February and the reality is that Joker has been in jail from Christmas Day — imprisoned now for months that this stage. The scene were the remaining Phantom Thieves are resolute in their determination to free their leader on New Year’s Eve is completely absent and the gravity of Joker turning himself in is lost compared to the original — that’s a huge moment in the story.

The whole idea throughout the entire game was that he avoided another criminal charge or anything that would end up with him going to juvie, and he took the bullet for the team by taking sole responsibility to protect his teammates. That moment, that recognition of sacrifice and the immediate aftermath of that sacrifice as the other members discover what Joker did, is basically absent in P5R — it doesn’t carry the same weight that it should.

For reference:

Next comes probably the worst bit of all, the True Ending animation.

In the P5 True Ending, instead of Joker getting back on the train home as he had expected to, the members of the Phantom Thieves — who are basically family at this stage — drive Joker home (after stealing a spark plug from, I’m assuming, police officials, who had been tailing them, to repair their stricken van). They drive away, leaving the officials stranded as they hit the open road, with various hijinks before the credits sequence rolls.

It’s a beautiful moment that leads into a beautiful ending credits song and sequence. After the incredibly emotional sequence plays, the ending cinematic closes with Joker opening the sun-roof, standing up to the point his torso is outside and he basks in the on-rushing air, the sunlight and the freedom he and the Phantom Thieves worked so hard to attain, as the music from the game’s menu cutscene plays, bringing everything full circle.

The theme of the final cinematic in the original was: ‘Who cares what others think, we’re free to choose our own path, our own destiny. This is our life’. It’s extremely beautiful and moving. When I finished the original, the ending was so satisfying, it was the right way to end a truly epic journey with the most amazing characters.

The new True Ending… Why?

So, in this ending, the officials in the black car are still surveying you as they did in P5 but there’s a a lot more concern given to them this time. Then, Maruki — in his first appearance since trying to kill you and punching your face repeatedly before his Palace collapsed — pulls up in a taxi to take Joker to the train station while the rest of the Phantom Thieves act as decoys in the van by driving maniacally to throw the officials off the scent?

What?

Then when they arrive at the station, Maruki and Joker call it even (which makes some sense seeing as it’s easy to forget that the end result was not just returning reality but changing Maruki’s heart) before the Phantom Thieves just pull up, hastily say goodbye and drive off? OK? Then Joker bumps into Yoshizawa at the train station (sure, OK) before getting on the train with Morgana, who, surprise, was in his bag and not fixing the van like in the original.

What? They actually didn’t drive him back and their intention in this old van was to simply drop him to the train station?

Finally, after a credits song which lacks in comparison to the original plays, the final scene sees Joker arrive at some station and we see the famous coat that Goro Akechi wore, indicating that he is more than likely alive (somehow), as Joker reflects in his train window’s reflection, seeing his Phantom Thieves attire before taking his glasses off and pulling down the blinds. The end.

What?

I’ve had some time to think about this because I was pretty conflicted seeing it for the first time.

I guess it all had to do with expectations. I expected the original ending because it was basically perfect and I hadn’t anticipated the possibility that they would ever change it. I also had the credits song stuck in my head and I had gone months intentionally without listening to it so it’d be ready for this moment and the emotions, as they have in every other playthrough, would come. I embraced the end of an incredible journey each time it came.

So, to not have that ending and receive a worse ending than the original was disappointing, that was an unmet expectation. Does that make the True Ending itself bad? I wouldn’t say bad, but it just sorely lacks because the other ending from P5 exists.

What was so wrong with the original ending that required this much deviation? This ending only creates more questions than it does anything else. Did they have to make a different end because a sequel to P5 (Persona 5 Scramble) exists, or that a P5R sequel will eventually come? It was just a bit unsatisfactory. The one part I enjoyed of it were the scenes during the credit scroll as the rest of the Phantom Thieves prepare for the next stage of their lives, with most of them going their separate ways (which is a vast departure from the original ending, which is why P5 Scramble is not a sequel to P5R). Poor Yusuke…

If there ends up being a sequel to P5R, then I think I can forgive them a little more for this ending. To be fair, I’ll probably have a kinder view of this ending the second time around, now that I know what to expect. I will, however, take solace that Persona 5 Scramble is a sequel to P5 and not P5R. Now, if only we could get an English version of that game…

I’m trying not to let the ending bother me too much because other than the ending  being slightly disappointing, P5R is absolutely brilliant. It is incredible. Even Maruki’s actual Palace, his story, Yoshizawa’s story, they’re all fantastic. Atlus stumbled just at the end after a near flawless race.

Again, my issue with the Maruki arc isn’t the arc itself but that I don’t agree on the placement of Maruki’s arc in the context of the main-game itself (it should either come before Yaldabaoth or as a post-game adventure). Maruki’s arc could’ve been, almost, absolutely fine — better than that, even — had time just gone back to Christmas Eve and the original ending gone from there. The fact that it’s as different as it is leads me to believe there’s going to be sequel, but even then it seems strange to have two sequels, two separate timelines between the sequel to P5 and P5R.

For all that I dislike with how the Maruki arc was handled in terms of its placement, there were a lot of things to like with the Maruki episode, where the main new characters come to the fore and the majority of the new content for P5R.

You spend a bit of time with Maruki throughout the main story and see his interactions with the other Phantom Thieves in their counselling sessions (which ended up being far more important than I think you could possibly imagine), and you spend a little more time with Yoshizawa throughout the first 100 hours than you do with Maruki, but the majority of their screen time comes during the Maruki arc.

Again, a little strange for Yoshizawa that the majority of her material, so to speak, ends up here, 100 hours later, but alas…

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Despite awakening to her Persona before Okumura’s death, Yoshizawa only forms her contract with her Persona and joins the group during the Maruki arc but is still not a member of the Phantom Thieves even then, that much made clear.

And because she wasn’t a member but is a character that’s obviously been given quite a bit of attention to and is obviously important to final arc, I was afraid that they may shoe-horn her alongside the Phantom Thieves in to the major events after, such as the final cinematic scene, like she was one of them.

She wasn’t one of them, and I’m glad they didn’t force her to be.

I’m happy she wasn’t there in that van because she wasn’t part of the main story, the main struggle, really. She wasn’t a Phantom Thief, she didn’t have to deal with Akechi’s betrayal, she had nothing to do with Shido (though, not entirely her fault on that one) and she’s absolutely no where to be seen on the Day of Destiny (Christmas Eve/Yaldabaoth) to support the Phantom Thieves in their moment of absolute need. Where even was she? At least with Maruki, we know where he was that day and why he wasn’t on the ground cheering for the Phantom Thieves to pull through.

I like Yoshizawa, I do. But she had no place to be side-by-side with the Phantom Thieves at the ending — like, the majority of your involvement came in the last 12 hours of the 120…You’re not really a part of this. That might sound harsh but that’s the truth. She’s not a Phantom Thief. She has her own role, her own story but she’s not ‘one of the gang’ and I’m glad she had he separate thing with Joker to end, but not as the Phantom Thieves.

Kasumi’s story, or rather, Sumire as you find out, was excellently handled.

The twist that she was the sister that survived and that real Kasumi was the one that died to save her was a twist I didn’t expect, and the animation of the event itself was pretty stirring, especially seeing Kasumi lie dead in the street and blood on the street.

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The reasoning for Sumire wanting to live life as Kasumi is understandable. That’s a lot of guilt, shame and grief to live with so young but to run away from it and her defiance to refuse to accept reality — and her identity — was ultimately wrong. Pain is a part of life, as cruel as it can be. Sadly, the only way is forward. Nothing could bring back Kasumi. Even if she wanted to be her, Sumire was always running from reality and the path forward. She may have believed she was Kasumi, but there was no future for her as Kasumi. The reality is that as much as she trained, she wasn’t as good as Kasumi was — she wouldn’t have been able to get the results Kasumi did. She’s Sumire Yoshizawa, and this is the focus of her Confidant arc from 6-10, now that she accepts the truth.

Maruki himself is a fascinating character. You would’ve learned some of his past through his confidant arc but obviously a lot more is discovered here. You learn the root of his distortion and the key moments of how this fake-reality all came to be. The Treasure turning about to be an extract from the incident that killed Rumi’s parents and caused Rumi to effectively show no life in hospital was touching, as is his sacrifice in order to secure her health, even at the expense of his fiancé to be, Rumi, having no memory of Maruki.

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Maruki’s intentions behind his distortion of reality is understandable. A reality where dreams are reality with no sadness, no strife. Sounds great, in theory. However, his decision to run away from his own past is wrong and refusal to accept the hand life dealt him and the decision to impose a false reality among people against their choice — as happy as it makes them — is wrong, and that’s the motivation to stop him, at least for me. Life is about acceptance and finding a way forward, even though it’s not seldom fair.

In addition to that, it would have negated everything the Phantom Thieves fought for up to this point. They risked their lives to face Yaldabaoth so that people would have control over their lives, as they have control over theirs. This is not control.

Though his distortion is strong, Maruki certainly not an evil man.

I imagine a lot of people were conflicted about Maruki’s reality — it’s excellently thought out and rationalised, truly. The idea of a reality where there is no pain, only happiness is one that many would surely jump at — I’m sure some people had no problem accepting his deal. And you’re tasked to wrestle what is right, not just for you but the friends you love. The choice is ultimately yours to make, there is a choice.

The ending where Maruki’s reality becomes irreversible, on the surface, is a happy ending as people live out their dreams but you know that it’s not the right one, as indicated by the music (which is a really great song) and the credits sequence. It’s almost worth considering following through on, given my issues with the True Ending. But ultimately, you know it’s a false happiness imposed against the will of people.

Getting to see each Phantom Thief live life as they dreamed was moving though. All of them are significant in their own way but I think the ones most moving to me, personally, were Futaba and Haru, more Haru than anyone else.

For Futaba, she had the family she always wanted — Wakaba, Sojiro and Joker — and spent her time happily doing life with them. Knowing what we know from the story, it’s obviously incredibly sad seeing Futaba have a glimpse of a life with her mother and Sojiro knowing that it was taken away.

Haru was moving to me because she spends with her dad, Kunikazu Okumura, who of course is killed in the main story. Not only is he alive here, but Okumura converses with Haru as his beloved daughter, looking out for her, concerning themselves about some personal and business matters together as father and daughter, which of course was the complete opposite of how it was in reality.

Seeing glimpses of their lives as they wished for, I’m sure it does raise a hint of hesitation about whether the true reality should be restored, or this alternate reality should exist, with people living happily in the dreams Maruki has woven.

Joker’s reality is a little different. He can obviously still see through the lies but I think his reality would’ve been one where he continued living in Yongen with Sojiro but I think, most importantly, his dream would be that Goro Akechi is still alive.

Clearly, Joker has regrets about how things ended with Akechi, reflecting in his bed the day Akechi was killed about their unresolved duel and how Akechi would’ve hated for things to end like that (though, I personally think that duel took place when they went with all their strength in a fight of life and death, in a fight that, unknowingly, was a fight for the future of the world. Though, I guess the argument would be that it was the Phantom Thieves vs. Akechi, not Joker vs. Akechi).

As for Akechi himself, I’m really not sure. I imagine his dream would perhaps be the alternate timeline he wished for, that Joker and himself could be friends (as he eluded to aboard Shido’s ship, which, speaking of, it was cool to see how the Akechi confidant arc was tied nicely into the conversation on the ship), instead of the events that ended up unfolding in the events of Persona 5 where he was destined to walk down the path he did, set up by Yaldabaoth. That Akechi was loved and had a place to belong, as he sorely desired in his life but never received.

But it wasn’t reality, and even though people are happy, it isn’t true happiness — it masquerades the pain of the past which, as sad as it is, shapes people into who they are, for better or for worse.

Part of what makes the Phantom Thieves who they are is the fact they faced the truth of their situation because they could no longer run from the truth and decided to act, and they grew from their adversity with the resolve that they’d never go back to their old selves (this was particularly a theme for Ann, Makoto and Haru).

To Joker and Akechi, they know the truth that things aren’t as they should be and made the resolve to fix it. After Joker’s conversations with his teammates, they all feel uneasy about their reality and how it doesn’t quite add up and meet up, where they discover the truth for themselves as they exit Maruki’s reality.

The ending arc of P5R kind of paints the rest of the Phantom Thieves in a somewhat poor light.

When Akechi believes he has killed Joker, in his conversation with Shido after the event, he dismisses the idea of killing the remaining Phantom Thieves immediately and labels them as, not in these words exactly, spineless — that without Joker, they are nothing and won’t exact revenge for their fallen leader.

It’s true that, many times, Joker saves the Phantom Thieves time and time again, be it with his actions (Makoto, in Futaba’s Palace), his words (the Velvet Room Prisons) or his sheer determination and resolve (Shido, to name one). It was disappointing to see, again, that the Phantom Thieves had to be bailed out by their leader for their part in allowing Maruki’s distortion to become reality, especially given the fact that the New Year’s Eve scene where the Phantom Thieves resolve to free their leader is missing from P5R.

Now, they do make up for the fact somewhat as they — and Akechi — all take the brunt of Adam Kadmon’s, effectively, killing blow which allowed Joker to climb and put an end to Maruki’s fight — some points clawed back there.

I have a bunch of thoughts regarding Akechi himself, his relationship with Joker, the ending and other thoughts of what Atlas did with Akechi in Persona 5 R, you can read those here.

Anyways, circling back, some final thoughts on the Maruki arc, more so from a gameplay perspective…

It was great. It was also really fun to use incredibly high levelled Personas as your roared through the 70’s and into the 80’s (and I was on hard mode and finished on 84, I’m sure you could easily reach the 90’s on a lower difficulty). One of the things I always wanted to do was to actually use the very high levelled Personas that you acquired on the ascent to Yaldabaoth but were never useful because, well, the ending fight was literally right there, so it nice to run through a Palace with some of those Personas, as well as the ones you can acquire in Maruki’s Palace, which in itself was very enjoyable despite its length.

Going back to Mementos after you believed it to be erased, and back to the Hall of Grail, where the Holy Grail once stood, where Yaldabaoth emerged, was incredibly weird after everything. Though I enjoy the fact you return to an area where the Holy Grail once stood, and with it, the place where an epic battle took place, I’m not huge on returning to Mementos as a whole. Added to that, another 16 floors to climb to progress the story? Meh…

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The Maruki arc is very good, really. Music, ambience, characters, themes, motives… So many elements at play, so many emotions invoked. I just don’t agree with how it stacks versus Yaldabaoth and how it is tied into the main story.

Let’s, briefly, talk gameplay and quality of life changes that I really enjoyed in P5R as a whole, which helped broaden the entire experience, because as good as the Maruki arc is, it only accounts for 12 or so hours of the 120 that P5R provided me.

Basically everything that was tweaked for P5R was either well needed or a great addition.

One of the things you had to be conscious of was your ammunition in a Palace — once you had spent your lot of bullets, that was it for the most part. However, in P5R your ammo is replenished after every battle…you just have less bullets overall. That’s a fair trade-off. I’d take less bullets overall if I can have them for every battle. Hurts a little for boss fights but in terms of navigating a Palace, that’s fair.

The fact that you can Baton Pass from basically the get-go is fantastic. Sure, it obviously matters less after Kamoshida’s Palace but if you have a new party member for a Palace, they obviously weren’t going to have Baton Pass available to them until you can start their confidant arc, which is after the Palace they join you. So to be able to do that was an extremely welcome addition.

Let’s stick with the Palaces… I feel like I learn something new to help me progress either more efficiently and/or quickly, but I feel like it was easier to KO Palace’s on the first day (if possible, obviously for some that isn’t possible due to plot). This is pretty easy in New Game+ but I wasn’t expecting it for a new playthrough — it felt like the Palaces in general were a little less tedious (hello, barracks section from Okumura’s Palace).

As well as that, with the introduction of, let’s call them abilities for the sake of keeping it simple, SP isn’t run through as much — replenished bullets after fight also helps in this regard — making it easier to extend Palace exploration. Throw in the small amount of SP you recover from the new Will Seeds…it all adds up.

Speaking of the Will Seeds, I love their addition. I love their eery, echoing voices in the room you collect the seed as they whisper their words of distortion, and the items these eventually turn into are basically useful even at the end of the game, with the exception of Kamoshida’s Crystal of Lust. It’s fantastic in the early game, and for a lot of the game, but basically once you reach, I’d say, Sae-san, the health recovered just isn’t enough anymore, even if the attack boost is nice. They’re basically all extremely useful, though, I think I only used the one from Futaba’s Palace once — it’s probably best used for mini-bosses that aim for party status affliction (if you’re able to remember what those are heading in).

All of the Palace bosses in the game had some sort of makeover to their fight, some more drastic than others.

With Kamoshida, the extra phase involving Mishima, Shiho and the volleyball really added to the fact that the actions of Kamoshida didn’t extend just to the Phantom Thieves but others too. It also made the fight a bit more difficult, only because I had to babysit Morgana, but alas…

Madarame’s new phase is basically a Baton Pass phase, hitting each weakness before saving the final pass for a sizeable blow at Madarame.

I don’t want to go over every single one because some changes aren’t that major (such as Kaneshiro and Sae-san) but the one battles whose dynamic was changed and absolutely beat my ass was the Okumura fight, which they completely changed the dynamic of from start to the end — it’s similar to the Madarame fight in some ways where you need to defeat all the pieces at once, only infinitely more annoying.

So many of the other additions to the original story are fantastic. The extra scenes (such as the Summer Festival), the extra phonecalls after visiting your confidants, spending time with the twins…they all add to the amazing story and the depth of the characters.

The addition of the Phantom Thieves Den was fantastic: a place to relax, put on whatever track you have encountered thus far, watch whatever cinematic you want from an arc, look at some of the many visual elements of the game (the added photos throughout the game taken are great to look at), decorate your den as you saw fit — from Personas, bosses, locations, dungeon themes etc. — to be able to roam around as other characters (who didn’t enjoy just running around as Morgana the cat?) and perhaps play a bit of Tycoon. Oh, and when it’s all said and done, you can even roam around as the mice from Shido’s Palace. That is absolutely fantastic.

A home away from home, one you can decorate to your own end. Great addition.

The added location of Kichijoji adds quite a few things, such as a location to sell sooty equipment for a good price, some overpowered items that increase elemental attacks by 50%, the jazz club but best of all is the Penguin Club, a.k.a daaaaaarts! Darts is great fun, and the idea to have levels for baton pass ranking is a nice bonus too — extra attack and a very small amount of HP and SP recovery is a nice bonus too. Never got to play billiards, sadly. Maybe in New Game+… Oh, speaking of added areas, the aquarium is a nice addition too. Aquariums are awesome.

Speaking of battles, I’ve talked about Joker and Akechi’s showtime move…these new showtime moves are pretty damn cool, really loved these. My favourite ones both are both of Yusuke’s and Ryuji’s — not only with each other, but Yusuke with Ann, and Ryuji and Makoto. But Yusuke and Ryuji’s together was my favourite — I still laugh at it when I see it.

One of the things added to the Maruki arc is the introduction of third-stage Personas belonging to the Phantom Thieves (if you have maxed the confidant), which are a combination of the previous two.

My favourite of these were Ryuji (it’s exactly what you want it to be), Makoto and Futaba. Morgana’s is pretty cool too, but I wasn’t huge on Yusuke’s (Susano-o was so much better) and not massive on Ann’s and Haru’s. But it was very cool to use these and some of their ridiculously overpowered abilities — in fact, Ann’s party-wide Concentrate saved my ass in the never-ending Azathoth/Maruki fight. Again, being level 80+ and using severe and colossal damaging moves was really enjoyable.

What’s next…the soundtrack, right…

I mean, the P5 soundtrack was already a master to behold but P5R has topped that, and then some.

The new tracks added for the Maruki arc — and P5R as a whole — are incredible. The Palace theme, the deep theme for the Twilight Corridor, the boss battle itself and the awesome track on heist-day: “I Believe”.

I love “Life Will Change” (more so the instrumental version) but I think I might prefer “I Believe: more. That’s saying something. The one thing I will give the Maruki arc over the Yaldabaoth arc is that the final boss theme is better — possibly much better.

Again, 90% of the soundtrack is the same as the original — which is obviously a fantastic thing.

The main gripe I could see people having with the original soundtrack is how repetitive the main battle theme (“Last Surprise”) and the Mementos theme could get.

This is not an issue in P5R.

They added a new song for an ambush (“Take Over”) while using Last Surprise for non-ambush fights. Take Over (which is the majority of fights that you’re going to be taking part in) is fantastic, a much better song than Last Surprise, which does get going eventually but not all battles take a long time.

As for Mementos, the music differs in certain areas as you continue to progress downwards and these songs are also fantastic — helps break up Mementos exploration, because it can really drag on at times.

Speaking of breaking things up, fights can obviously get repetitive but the introduction of showdowns as well as ‘disaster’ shadows helps break up the battles somewhat. It’s a J-RPG, if you can’t deal with battles, you’re playing the wrong game.

Let’s see, what other notes do I have. Morgana’s still a bitch, check.

Oh yeah, one thing that was sorely missing in P5 was voice-overs for the entirety of the dialogue as the Phantom Thieves, minus Joker, are in the Velvet Room prison — this is made right in P5R, as well as on the final day as you say goodbye to your maxed confidants. Not that it was a massive detracting factor from the first game but a nice addition to P5R.

Overall, Persona 5 Royal was an incredible experience. Same amazing characters and, for the most part, same amazing story…but more. And more Persona 5, already my favourite game of all time, is a wonderful thing.

On the whole, taking everything into account, I don’t think P5R has displaced P5 at the top of my list (the issues with regard the ending and the placement of the Maruki arc are the contributing factors), but it’s still brilliant.

The ending left me a little disappointed, personally, because I absolutely loved the original ending and there was really no need to alter it as much as they did, and I still don’t like how Yaldabaoth isn’t the final boss of the story — it’s a battle between life and death of everything against the antagonist who pulled every single string… He really should be the final boss, and the last descent in Mementos to its depths should’ve been the final dungeon, the final Palace: the Public’s Palace. Mementos was a question mark the whole time in P5 and the final descent down to its depths was chilling, but brilliant. Maruki’s Palace, as great as it was, just didn’t have that same gravity as the Mementos Depths.

But those won’t take away too much from an incredible 120 hours — Persona 5 Royal is still a fantastic game.

Thank you, Persona 5, for stealing my heart once again.

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