Persona 5 Royal Review

Persona 5 Royal is a Japanese RPG developed and released by Atlus, in 2020, for PlayStation 4. Being a re-release of 2017’s Persona 5, Royal features new features, storylines, quality-of-life improvements, and characters. This improved version of the game echoes Atlus’ previous re-releases in the series: Persona 3 FES (2008) and Persona 4 Golden (2012).

In Persona 5 Royal, you’ll play as the leader of the Phantom Thieves. This group of vigilantes becomes known for erasing the distorted desires of villainous beings. As you live your daily life in the outskirts of Shibuya, Japan, you’ll hang out with friends, enter dungeons, and even play mini-games. The social link-building, well-paced gameplay, and epic music will surely charm fans of the genre.

When I played Persona 5 back in 2018, it introduced me to an immense world. I’ve never played something so stylish, so polished, and yet, so long. Spending over 100 hours, I found it to be one of the greatest games I ever played and finally understood the hype surrounding it. This past year, I’ve beaten both Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden and admit they’re easily as engaging as Persona 5. With that said, I knew it was time to return to Shibuya for another round with Royal.

If you want to view a quick list of updates and additions in Royal, check out the list here.

Story

Persona 5 Royal features the high school transfer student, Ren Amamiya, trying to live life after being convicted of assault. Sentenced to probation he now attends Shujin Academy as an exchange student. Living at Cafe Leblanc, he must spend a year away from home while trying to manage school and his life as the Phantom Thieves.

What I love about Persona 5’s story is its ability to touch on real-life social issues. Your first villain is a teacher/coach who commits sexual abuse against female students while bullying the students on his volleyball team. You’ll fight plenty of demons, shadows, and other mythological beings. But Persona 5 does a handy job of exposing the worst of society by reforming them and changing their hearts. Of course, it’s with plenty of humorous moments along with being dead serious.

What makes Persona 5 Royal’s story especially interesting is its gray morality. The Phantom Thieves become a hot debate in society as to whether their actions are righteous or illegal. It becomes even more complicated thanks to the third semester. If you unlock the right conditions, the third semester’s story will open up. This will bring you to an even grayer area on whether it is alright to rob people of their escapism in order to pursue happiness.

Character Design

Persona 5 offers a colorful cast of appealing characters. Engaging in their social links allows you to develop your relationship and help them solve their life problems. You can even enter romantic relationships with them. The game’s writing brings the player close to the characters with such clever writing as to immerse them in the story. Their pain is your pain.

I love the character design just for how well-animated the characters are. I’m especially fond of Morgana for your being the occasionally smart-assed, sensitive cat friend. Amidst the heroes, villains, and those in-between, you’re bound to find characters you bond with. Also note that, even with as much dialogue in the game, the game cleverly paces it with strong writing.

I should also mention that one particular character received outstanding character development. While their story expired late into the original Persona 5, the 3rd semester brought forth their inner, true self in the grandest way possible. It turned a character I strongly disliked and spun a complete 180 on them in the best conceivable way.

Aesthetics

Persona 5 features gorgeous animations and visuals. It offers a robust, stylish, UI, smooth battle transitions, and feels wonderfully polished in every possible way. Persona 5 Royal now offers 4K support for PS4 Pro as well. The battle animations, anime cutscenes, and portraits breathe life into the game.

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Persona 5 Royal also boasts an exceptional soundtrack. Jazz, rock, and J-Pop all meld together perfectly. Shoji Meguro also composed for Persona 3 and Persona 4 and now brings a more smooth jazz style to P5. Honestly, this could be the greatest soundtrack I have ever heard.

Gameplay

The turn-based Persona gameplay continues its traditions here. You can attack, cast spells, gun down your enemies, and even hold them up. What I love about Royal includes some of the new improvements. You no longer need ammo for your guns, you can unleash powerful Technical attacks, and it features the new Showtime abilities which are both powerful and incredibly flashy. These become your finisher attacks that occur during a desperate situation and work to even the odds in your favor.

Persona 5 Royal rewards players who pursue building their social links. It’s incredibly beneficial to boost them with party members and NPCs alike. Whether it’s to add to your battle repertoire or so party members can shield you from lethal attacks, this game rewards the notion that you go out of your way to care about your allies.

The calendar system progression offers you a set amount of days to complete all your tasks. Knowing which social links to manage becomes entirely up to you. In fact, you choose how to spend every day of your life. Whether you want to boost a social link or boost a social skill, you can talk to allies, eat at restaurants, or even invite them to mini-games. The level of variety in this game offers you a bevy of fun activities with the dialogue that goes with it.

Also, while Persona has a history with randomly generated dungeons, Persona 5 added Palaces. These feel more like your traditional dungeons which feature puzzle-solving elements. As Phantom Thieves, you’ll also engage in stealth gameplay while you hide from and ambush Shadows.

Mementos, the randomly generated dungeon, also features a complete overhaul. In addition to new songs playing at deeper levels, you meet a new character – Jose – who shows up as a merchant. You’ll collect flowers and stamps in order to buy items and boost your EXP, Money, or Item Gain in Mementos. This alone makes it a major step up from the previous release’s Mementos.

Value

Persona 5 Royal is important for the JRPG fan, the Persona newcomer, and even the Persona 5 fan. Newer fans will certainly appreciate one of the greatest JRPGs out there while veteran Persona 5 fans can unearth dozens of hours of new content. Royal features a full-on story expansion that offers new social links, mini-games, activities, unlockables, and an entire third semester.

This comes along with various improvements to battle gameplay, exploration, and the abilities you gain. To be honest, I found Persona 5 to already be a near-perfect game. Doing the unthinkable is to polish it and add more to a game I already valued so highly.

If I had to say I had any gripes with Persona 5 Royal, it’s that it can admittedly become too easy. Even if you download the DLC Personas in the Velvet Room, that alone is not enough to break the player. You’ll still need to be on your toes so you don’t get one-shotted or ambushed.

However, strategic management of social links will allow you to gain these high-level Personas sooner. Meanwhile, your continued support of your allies, especially NPC social links, will grant you abilities that will significantly boost you against powerful enemies. By the time I finished the third palace, I was playing on Merciless difficulty and died only a small handful of times.

Despite this, Persona 5 Royal offers a level of flexibility that can enable players to become godlike or even balance their challenge. While you can, in fact, become quite broken partially due to DLC Personas, it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to or not. Even then, you will surely face challenging bosses and need to keep your guard up from enemies who can KO your protagonist in a fell swoop.

Final Thoughts

I cannot say enough good things about Persona 5 Royal. It might be quite possibly the greatest JRPG, if not the greatest game, I have ever played. The 172 hours I spent immersing myself in this experience is among the greatest I’ve ever enjoyed in a game. I’ve played countless hours of other JRPGs, including Persona 3 and 4, and I’m not sure if anything will ever be possible to top this.

Nothing feels quite as immersive as getting to live as your character, indulge in social links, and invite them to play darts or pool while boosting your stats along with them. Everything you do grants incentive and rewards the player. This includes anything from building social links to implementing battle strategies. The gorgeous, shiny graphics, the beautiful soundtrack that accompanies you, and your daily life brings immense levels of world-building within your little corner of Tokyo.

Overall, this is a must-play for any RPG fan including, again, those who played the original Persona 5. The amount of content far surpasses the price tag while the quality improvements raise the bar to the highest possible standard. With that being said, I hope you will enjoy this game as much as I did.

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What Are You Playing? – 8/17/20

Welcome to the newest column for All Cool Things. I’m starting a new column blog where I discuss what I’m clearing off my backlog every week! If you find something you’re playing on our list, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Without further adieu…

Tekken 7

I’m no pro at Tekken. I love the character design, music, and gameplay. But I’ve never really played it competitively.

However, I live in a part of Georgia that plays it heavily. It’s one of our top 3 fighting games along with Street Fighter V and Dragon Ball FighterZ. I managed to host a 10-player tournament once but I didn’t compete in it.

Despite that, I’m on a Trophy run right now. I hate admitting that I play a fighting game casually. But I’m trying to finish collecting Trophies. I’ve done all the single-player mode achievements. The 3 Special Battles one was detestably long and random.

The only Trophies I have left are the 1 Ranked Match, 10 Ranked Matches, and win a tournament battle. I main Miguel and he’s the only one I play. I’m vaguely familiar with his style yet I haven’t even incorporated Savage Stance into it yet. Despite being new to the competitive meta, I’ve already managed to send one ragequitter packing.

Did I mention I met Katsuhiro Harada, creator of Tekken, at Final Round 2016?

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir

Even though it came out in 2007 for PS2, I always wanted to play this game. I loved Vanillaware’s Dragon’s Crown for PS3. Ever since I played Dragon’s Crown, I’ve become a huge fan of George Kamitami’s work.

Right now I’m still only on the Valkyrie story. I love hearing all the familiar voices from the games I recently played. It might be because both Persona and Odin Sphere are developed and published by Atlus that these games share voice actors.

This game still looks beautiful as heck. Even with the remastered visuals, though, I can still tell this is a PS2 title by the mouth movement animations. That’s not a bad thing by any means.

Moreover, I can tell how much Odin Sphere influenced Dust: An Elysian Tail which is one of my favorite indie games. The hand-drawn style and 2D beat ’em up gameplay both showcase similarities between the two.

Once I beat Odin Sphere, I plan to jump onto Muramasa Rebirth for PS Vita. I had the Wii version but sold it shortly after I played it. But now I can try the definitive version of Muramasa before Atlus’ next game, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim comes out.

On that note, it makes me wish Princess Crown got localized.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

As always, I’m playing Smash. I don’t get how I can’t let this game go. Even though everyone hates online mode – and rightfully so – I can’t seem to stop logging onto Elite Smash, play a few rounds, and call it a day.

Who I’m currently playing as online.

Despite everyone’s online complaints, Nintendo did manage to patch the game’s online. However, this was honestly too vague to decipher what they meant by patching the online experience. We know it isn’t rollback netcode. But at the least, Nintendo also said they would continue patching the game’s online mode.

Fire Emblem Heroes

Did you know I enjoy gacha? Yeah, only this one and maybe a little bit of Dr. Mario World. Even as gorgeous as the Final Fantasy gacha titles look, I’m not allowing myself to get hooked on another one. That especially goes for spending any money on them.

I’m so far behind that I haven’t played much since the latest update. I’m probably missing out on a ton of orbs. Unfortunately, not only is the Pirate banner the only one that interests me, but I haven’t landed a solid 5-star in weeks now.

It’s demoralizing to the point I hardly care. Moreover, none of them give you the 40 summons + 1 free one. Why even introduce this feature if you’re not going to implement it every month? Good thing I didn’t subscribe to Feh Pass.

…Although I admit that my lazy self could also use those continuous auto-battle features. Not to mention I’ve been tempted to buy those beautiful Resplendent units.

Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise

Finally, after beating Persona 5 Royal, I’m ready to commit to another long game. I haven’t touched a Yakuza title since Yakuza Kiwami 2. I plan on beating this one before I move onto Judgment. Then I’ll start Yakuza Remastered Collection afterward.

I love Fist of the North Star. I finished the anime series before FotNS2. Yakuza is filled with references to the series so it doesn’t surprise me that RGG Studios would want to adapt Fist of the North Star into a game.

I’m only past the intro but it’s fun so far. It’s standard Yakuza side-quests and beat ’em up action with tons of violence. Plus I’m using the Kiryu skin. Interesting fact, Kiryu’s Japanese voice actor is also Kenshiro’s. It fits perfectly all things considered.

Well, that’s a wrap for my play log this week. Maybe one day I’ll finally get back to Dragon Quest IV. I would like to play the rest of the series.

In the meantime, what are you playing this week? Reply with your games in the comments below.

Dragon Quest XI S Coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.

Last week, Square-Enix confirmed that Dragon Quest XI S would come to major consoles and PC later this year. Originally released in the west, in 2018, Dragon Quest XI came out to rave reviews when it debuted on the PlayStation 4 and PC. While the original Japanese version came out for 3DS, Square-Enix prepared a re-release for the title shortly after its overseas debut.

Dragon Quest XI S, a Nintendo Switch exclusive re-release, featured the 2D mode showcased in the Japanese 3DS version. However, this version of the game also added new cutscenes, storylines, bosses, and even endings to the game. This stellar level of content warranted a replay for veteran fans while introducing new ones to a fantastic JRPG. However, the latest announcement by Square-Enix ensures that Dragon Quest XI S will now be playable for owners of any modern console.

The Significance of Dragon Quest XI S

This title showcased a phenomenal level of polish from a 110-hour game. While America always struggled to embrace Japan’s long-loved series, Square-Enix added an extra dose of marketing to appeal to a larger fanbase. However, Nintendo took it even a step further the following year.

In 2019, Nintendo announced Dragon Quest XI S for Nintendo Switch. This is followed by E3 2019 where Nintendo features the game’s Hero as a new character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Shortly after, they would follow it with a new trailer for the game. Upon its release, Square-Enix would later go onto mention the game succeeded.

For PlayStation and PC fans, this is a return to form with new content not featured in the original release. For Xbox fans, this is the debut of Dragon Quest. This is also the first JRPG featuring Akira Toriyama’s creative designs since Blue Dragon released on Xbox 360 in 2007. Ultimately, everyone can now enjoy the definitive edition of this legendary title.

Final Thoughts

I found Dragon Quest XI to be one of the best games I ever played. I personally rank it up with Persona 5 Royal as one of the best JRPGs of the current generation. Its charming character design, writing, aesthetics, and battle system all hit excel points. It never forced level grinding, save for an optional encounter, and proved to have a solid challenge for those who sought it.

I did not play Dragon Quest XI S, however, as I felt satisfied with my first playthrough of the original release. Despite this, I’m currently entertaining myself with Persona 5 Royal which grants me a 100+ hour replay after beating Persona 5. With that being said, I can’t say I’m not considering playing through Dragon Quest XI S at some point.

If you’re looking for a title that paces itself well, both in story and in gameplay, Square-Enix’s masterpiece will suit your needs. It’s a worthy addition to anyone’s library. With the multiplatform release of the Definitive Edition, I strongly recommend playing this title.

Dragon Quest XI S comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 4th, 2020. You can pre-order the game now. Be sure to follow up with us on AllCoolThings by following our social media pages below!

5 Essential Resident Evil Titles You Must Play

With the recent release of Resident Evil 3, Capcom has surged the series back into full mainstream. Following Resident Evil 7’s revival of the series and Resident Evil 2’s heavily successful remake, we want to promote the five best Resident Evil titles. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or have played one or two games, this list will help you find the best games to play in the series. And the good news is that all of them are currently available for modern consoles and PC.

#5 Resident Evil 3

Starting with the most recent release, Resident Evil 3 successfully breathes new life into the 1999 classic. Featuring Jill Valentine, you’ll escape from Raccoon City while being pursued by a powerful B.O.W.: Nemesis. This variation of the Tyrant comes armed with heavy weaponry, moves faster than Jill, and will confront you throughout the game.

Utilizing the RE Engine from RE2 and RE7, this title features gorgeous animations using the over-the-shoulder perspective and the survival horror experience. Despite being only 12 hours long, with only one scenario campaign, Resident Evil 3 packs a punch from start to finish. Every element feels incredibly well-polished.

Original vs. Remake

To be honest, though, I struggle to pick a version of the game to recommend here. I have a soft-spot for the 1999 release. I loved the Live Selection and I preferred the structure of Nemesis’ pop-up encounters over him becoming a chase segment in the remake. For impact, I found it to be the best of the original PlayStation trilogy due to adding elements like ammo crafting, dodge step, and 180 turn.

On the flip-side, however, Carlos and several other characters got some amazing redesigns. The gorgeous visuals, sound, and animation really make the remake pop-out and breathe new life into it. If you loved the Resident Evil 2 remake, I can recommend it. If you’re not willing to spend full price on a shorter adventure, though, wait for a price drop.

However, keep in mind that major parts of the story were altered, as well as the level designs. Unlike Resident Evil 2’s remake, this feels like a total re-imagining in every conceivable way. With that said, I recommend the remake for newer players. But if you’re curious and want to see how Resident Evil 3 started, I cannot recommend the original enough. You can pick it up for $5.99 on the PSN Store for PS3 or Vita. It doesn’t have the gorgeous resolution of the Dreamcast or GameCube releases, but it’s the original version of the core game and definitively worth the price and then some.

#4 Resident Evil Remake

When series director, Shinji Mikami, stated that the 1997 Resident Evil hasn’t aged well, he set out to remake the title. Rebuilt from the ground up, Resident Evil (dubbed REmake) featured a new mansion layout, dialogue, voice acting, and boss battles. While it was largely the same game, it became a massive improvement over the original in every conceivable way. The gorgeous visuals stood out well enough to still be considered among the best on the GameCube even today. This definitive classic set the precedent for survival horror and what a proper remake should be built like.

In the past decade, REmake was released for HD consoles as well. Scaling up the resolution made a pretty game even prettier. On PS4, the title also runs at 60 FPS. And on the HD version, you gain access to new costumes as well as the ability to move much easier. You can choose to keep the infamous tank controls, but you also gain the option to run freely for smoother control.

Perhaps the best way to play this game is to purchase Resident Evil Origins Collection. You’ll pick up REmake as well as Resident Evil Zero in one fell swoop. But you can also purchase REmake standalone digitally. It’s all up to you if you want the main game or to take a dive on the series prequel as well. In addition to PS4, Xbox One, and PC, Resident Evil: Origins Collection is also available for Nintendo Switch.

#3 Resident Evil 7

Go tell Aunt Rhody.”

The chilling song in the opening tells the story. It tells the story of a man trying to rescue the wife he thought dead. As he enters the Baker Household, he finds grisly sights, dead bodies, and his wife, now turned by some kind of mind control.

Resident Evil 7 tells the story of the revival of survival horror. Bringing back tight corridors, monsters around the corner, and limited ammo, your attempt to escape this madhouse brings horror to a new level. Not only are you fighting zombies and members of the household, but you’ll come across grisly sights that will test your nerves. In a way, it’s RE’s foray into psychological horror as well, disturbing the player with gory sights wherever you turn.

I would argue Resident Evil 7 has the best narrative in the series. Even though it originally seems disconnected from the rest of the series, you’ll eventually read documents that help tie in with the rest of the series. Some lore alludes to the Raccoon City incident. Meanwhile, you’ll also discover involvement with Chris Redfield, who even has his own DLC campaign. It will also delve further into the mind of a psychopath featured in the main story.

Resident Evil 7 offers multiple modes and mini-games as well as two DLC campaigns. If you buy the Gold Edition, these come with the game for free. They’re several hours long each and worth the purchase to bring the story full circle.

As a whole, Resident Evil 7 revitalized the genre in the best way possible. Resident Evil 7 isn’t just a numbered title in the series, but a revolution. If you want the true meaning of horror, disgust, intrigue, and tragedy, I cannot recommend this one enough. Finally, be sure to check out some of the accolades befitting this title.

#2. Resident Evil 2 Remake

Using the aforementioned RE Engine, Resident Evil 2 successfully delivered a remake of the classic 1998 title. Featuring the over-the-shoulder camera from past Resident Evil titles, the engine allowed for fantastic animations, controls, and lighting. Dimly lit rooms of the RPD obscured enemies with all but a flashlight. Despite facing even tougher enemies than before, the ability to aim, craft ammo, and save without ribbons gave players much more control and freedom in the survival horror world. Note that if you played on Hard Mode, you would need to procure ink ribbons to save. In doing so, it offered a challenge for everyone.

Featuring two campaigns to get the true ending, the game would take roughly 20 hours to finish, if not a little more. Even after you clear the game, you could play some of the extra modes. These served as sort of escape missions where you fight off hordes of zombies to make it to your goal. They offered a score attack element almost akin to The Mercenaries from past titles. If you died, you would do a little better next time.

Resident Evil 2 excelled past expectations and brought forth a new definitive chapter in survival horror experience. It would later go on to be nominated for 2019 Game of the Year at The Game Awards and win the GotY award for the Golden Joysticks.

#1. Resident Evil 4

It goes without saying Resident Evil 4 tops this list. This revolutionary title introduced a camera angle that not only standardized modern Resident Evil, but many other popular games as well. Titles like God of War 4, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Horizon: Zero Dawn all use this angle as well. While loyal fans saw the direction of survival horror drift towards fighting off hordes of undead, the gameplay offered perhaps the single most polished experience in the series.

While fighting off impressive enemies and using various close-combat mechanics, Leon was given many ways to defend himself. Along with vaulting over rails and hopping out of windows, this gave the player tons of freedom over control. In doing so, it optimized the gameplay and set a new series standard. Even after you beat the game, you could play a New Game+ and carry over your goods and unlocked costumes. Those seeking a challenge could also try their hand at Professional difficulty.

Even after you beat the game, you could play through The Mercenaries mode. You could play as 5 characters in 4 different maps. This score attack mode pre-loaded you with an inventory, arming you to take down as many B.O.W.s as you could while extending the time. 5-star rewards would unlock weapons.

All-in-all, Resident Evil 4 is the defining gameplay experience with some memorable dialogue and narrative. The extras it offers remains unparalleled to this day. Plus, every release after the original GameCube version featured Assignment Ada – an extra story mode – as well as new costumes. Resident Evil 4 is currently available on all modern consoles, in full HD, including on Nintendo Switch. If you’re looking for one of the single greatest games of all time, I cannot recommend this one enough.

Final Thoughts

Resident Evil’s best games range from quality survival horror to groundbreaking titles that were heralded among the best of all time. They all feature impressive enemies, boss battles, exploration, and music. If you want to try the series, these are the best ones to start with. Depending on your experience, you may want to start with Origins Collection to play the story in order. Otherwise, you can jump into RE4 to play the best game, 7 for the new start, or 2 and 3 if you want to try the latest remakes. It really doesn’t matter because which one you start with. Each title sets itself apart well from the others, offering their own experience. Go with the one your heart tells you to because you’re in for a treat if you enjoy survival horror.

Do you have a favorite? Which one appeals to you the most? Let us know in the comments below.