For nearly two decades, PlayStation platforms have been the exclusive home for the prolific Persona series. Persona 5 was a historic launch for the series back six years ago, and the Nintendo Switch would gain unprecedented momentum shortly after. Many Persona fans have been clamoring for the series to land outside of PlayStation consoles, and the time has finally come with the multiplatform release of Persona 5 Royal. The wait for a numbered Persona JRPG on Nintendo, Xbox, and PC platforms was arduous, but Persona 5 Royal for Switch is absolutely worth the wait.
The Phantom Thieves Rise Again
Persona 5 Royal builds on the base Persona 5 experience with new content and a number of improvements. Once again, the protagonist is a Shujin Academy high school transfer student in probation for trying to be a good Samaritan. Persona 5 Royal’s modern day Tokyo setting is hostile to high school students who can’t find a place to belong in society. The world is approaching ruin, and the Velvet Room gives the protagonist power to change fate itself. As a result, the protagonist wants to change the world with his newfound Persona powers. He forms the Phantom Thieves with Ryuji, Ann, and the otherworldly Morgana to combat the distortion of the world. As more problems arise, the Phantom Thieves’ ranks grow to meet the challenges presented by cruel society.
The Phantom Thieves gain a new member in Kasumi Yoshizawa, a talented first-year student and ballet performer that also transferred to Shujin Academy. Her circumstances are quite unique, and players learn more about her as the story progresses and her confidant (social link) ranks up. At the same time, the mild-mannered Takuto Maruki becomes the Shujin Academy councilor. Maruki aids the protagonist with counseling sessions throughout the year as another confidant to progress through. Kasumi and Maruki pave the way for Persona 5 Royal’s compelling story and true ending. As players progress the story, bonus content becomes available at the Thieves Den, a recreational area dedicated to achievements and collectibles.
A Refined Persona
Persona 5 Royal greatly improves combat while retaining the unique features of turn-based Megami Tensei RPGs. In fact, Palaces (in-game dungeons) have been altered with new layouts to incorporate the newly-added grappling mechanic and the Will Seed collectibles. Additional Personas are available to fuse, and their Shadow counterparts have been adjusted throughout all of the Palaces. The Phantom Thieves have additional tricks up their sleeves in battle such as Technical Attacks and Showtime Attacks. Technical Attacks capitalize on enemies afflicted by status aliments with devastating knockdown damage. Showtime Attacks are stylish team attacks with major damage potential. The crew becomes even more powerful as the player spends time advancing confidants.
Mementos was one of the original Persona 5’s weakest areas, but Persona 5 Royal spices the randomly-generated dungeon up with new challenges, rewards, and content. Exploring Mementos is a great way to earn valuable gear and obtain useful Personas such as Treasure Demons. For those willing to grind multiple levels, Mementos is the place to be. Taking on the Reaper should present no challenge once the party is ready. Many intriguing discoveries and powerful enemies await in the deepest levels of Mementos. Subtle changes from Persona 5 to Persona 5 Royal add up to reinforce a really fun and well-rounded combat experience. Fortunately, the improvements made in Persona 5 Royal turned Mementos into a better dungeon as a whole.
The Switch Experience
Persona 5 Royal on the Switch is brilliant with virtually no performance issues while retaining a pleasing amount of visual fidelity. It was a long time coming, but Persona 5 Royal feels right at home on the Switch in both docked and handheld modes. Character models, environments, and cutscenes look sharp on the Switch version as well. The Switch version appears to run at 30 frames-per-second in 720p in handheld mode. In docked mode, Persona 5 Royal appears to run at 30 FPS in what appears to be 1080p. The frame rate is locked in both modes, so the game is seriously smooth. The Switch version is not as sharp as the PlayStation 4 version, but Persona 5 Royal is still an enjoyable title to take on the go or play on a big display.
Persona 5 Royal players on Switch immediately have access to all the previously released DLC. The DLC may be redeemed in mid-April once the protagonist is able to check the cardboard box at Leblanc. Unfortunately, the Raidou Kuzunoha DLC is missing from the new release. Persona 5 Royal registers all the bonus DLC Personas to the compendium once the Velvet Room is accessible. Network capabilities may be enabled or disabled within the Settings menu, so players will see a prompt if the Switch is no longer receiving an internet connection.
Another Heart Stolen
Persona 5 Royal is a seriously great JRPG to play on the Switch. The story of the Phantom Thieves is an engaging tale from beginning to end. Reliving that journey on Switch was refreshing to say the least. From roaming the streets of Kichijoji to taking on the toughest of Shadows, Persona 5 Royal offers many hours of enthralling content. The Switch version is simply incredible with nothing holding the game back from being a great portable title. For those who haven’t played Persona 5 yet and/or have eagerly anticipated the new release, it’s a must-buy without question. After so many years, the Persona series can finally thrive outside of PlayStation consoles, and Persona 5 Royal is a big leap in the right direction for ATLUS.
Disclaimer: ATLUS provided Final Weapon with a review copy of Persona 5 Royal for Nintendo Switch.