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‘Persona 5 Royal’ review: Energetic comic book-styled graphics and edgy character design

Screenshot from the game  

While most Japanese RPGs (role-playing games) are long jaunts through mystical realms, featuring heroes with gravity-defying hairstyles, the Persona series is a class apart. Persona 5 Royal, or P5R, is a re-release of 2017’s Persona 5, a game you may have missed then, but fear not, this is another chance to give this reincarnation a whirl.

Persona 5 Royal
  • Developer: P-Studio
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Price: ₹3499 for Playstation 4

Persona games are sort of high school simulators, balancing the rigour of exams, the raging hormones of young love and a lot of teenage angst. Top that off with a whole bunch of supernatural activity that seems to be snapping heads off and causing chaos in Tokyo, and you have all the makings of an excellent young adult adventure. You play a recently (and wrongfully) expelled student. Shamed and exiled to Tokyo, you take up residence with a surly coffee shop owner as your guardian and a new school life before you.

P5R plays across a year of school life, as you and your new friends navigate social and scholastic responsibilities. The kick? By night, you don the guise of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, aided by the masks you wear everyday, which manifest as creatures known as Persona. You make your way through people’s hearts to change the darkness within them, and with each accomplishment, you and your merry band of thieves grow both in the real world and the metaverse.

Screenshot from the game

Screenshot from the game  

‘More depth to the grind’

The game makes some much-needed changes to the battle system, adding more zest to the turn-based action. Look forward to gun ammo that replenishes before every battle, the dungeons made more fun with collectables, and a grappling hook that lets you reach hidden places. Yes, there is a lot more depth to the grind. In the real world, in addition to making lasting relationships with your companions, you also meet some colourful characters to hang out with. You will love Ann Takamaki. Note: the more bonds you make, the more powerful your Persona get.

Screenshot from the game

Screenshot from the game  

While the original Persona 5 was exciting, it did stretch on way longer than most games should. If you played the original, there is not much here to get you interested in a full play-through. P5R adds on a lot more to it: such as new characters to join your team and a new school counsellor Takuto Maruki, both with worthy and meaningful storylines. To balance that off in your busy schedule, a lot of the activities are well integrated during the day, and some of the learning activities that took up an entire time slot, can now be done in quick bursts of fun puzzles. Persona 5 features real-world Tokyo landmarks where you can hang out with your friends, and Royal adds in the neon clad tiny alleys of Kichijoji into the mix.

If there ever was a game that embodied the word ‘style’, it is Persona 5 Royal. With energetic comic book-styled graphics and edgy character design, it is a treat going through the menus, because most of the game is controlled through menus, including the action. Writing, too, is excellent, as is the voice acting, driving a story that engages you in the day-to-day grit of these kids’ lives. Given escapism, of any sort, is the need of the hour, P5R will deliver.

The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 5:25:19 AM |

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