Persona 5 Royal PC review — Hearts frozen solid

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Remember when it seemed like the Persona games would never come to PC? And then Persona 4 Golden randomly showed up on Steam out of seemingly nowhere? The time has finally come for Persona 5 Royal to kick off its console shackles and reach an entirely new audience on PC and, to anyone who has yet to play it, the wait will likely be worth it. This is easily one of the best JRPGs in existence, featuring well over 100 hours of gameplay and one of the best stories in the medium. The port might not run as perfectly as I’d assumed, but this game will still steal your heart all the same.

Persona 5 Royal is a superhero story on the surface. The game’s protagonist helps a woman who was being assaulted, only for the perpetrator to have him arrested, forcing him to uproot his life and start anew at Shujin Academy. En route to his first day, a mysterious app appears on his phone and he and another student are whisked away to a mysterious castle where the school should be. There they find a talking cat-like creature and learn that the building is the desires of the school’s volleyball coach run rampant.


Masks on

Thus, the Phantom Thieves are born. Certain individuals have Palaces spring up in something called the Metaverse. Breaking into these palaces, reaching the embodiment of their desires made manifest, sending a calling card, and stealing the treasure is the only way to set things right. But there’s also someone using the Metaverse to reach their own ends.

Persona 5 Royal has a lengthy, complex storyline with a large, likable cast of characters. The story boasts a theme of the pursuing justice in a society that values kneejerk reactions while avoiding nuance. It resonates well in our current environment. Royal adds an extra semester that only improves on the story, adding an even more human side to the events.

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That’s quite the prologue

Persona 5 Royal has one of the lengthiest preambles of any game. You basically have a full five hours of story sequences and tutorials before the game lets you have some sort of freedom. The game is divided into multiple arcs where the team goes into the Palace of a corrupt individual in order to make them reveal their crimes (although, that isn’t always the case). You’re given a certain amount of in-game time to do this, usually with a major threat hanging over your head.

Days are broken up into afternoons and evenings, allowing for one activity in each. You can choose to infiltrate a Palace with your team, which will eat up your afternoon slot and make it so that you’re too tired to go out at night, although you can still craft infiltration tools or work on your coffee-making skills. The major side activities include building bonds with the game’s characters. These have their own stories to work through. You spend quality time with them, which awards you experience bonuses when fusing Personae, as well as practical bonuses. Befriending a chess player, for instance, will offer your team new tactical advantages.

Then there’s Mementos, which functions more like Tartarus from Persona 3. It’s a multi-floor dungeon with randomized designs where you fight enemies and work your way further in. It’s a great way to get more cash and experience, especially since the aforementioned talking cat transforms into a car that can run over and instakill weaker foes. You’ll be so flush with cash later in the game that you can’t feasibly spend it all. There are also activities where you can improve your bonds with your teammates, affecting how you work together in combat. But it’s simply not possible to do it all, as there’s not enough time.

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Welcome to my nightmare

The Palaces themselves are one of the best things about Persona 5 Royal. As opposed to the dungeons in and 4, they’re all hand-crafted with specific themes and their own puzzles. While moving about in the field, there are even some mild stealth mechanics. You can hide behind objects and walls and move from cover to cover to prevent enemies from seeing you. You can then ambush them and get a leg up in battle.

The combat here is, as far as I’m concerned, the best combat in any turn-based RPG. You have four members on your team that you can switch out (reserve members still get experience, so no grinding is necessary). The focus is on hitting enemy weaknesses. Once you do, you get a ‘One More,’ which lets your character attack again or switch to another teammate alongside buffs for doing so. Enemies get knocked down when you hit their weakness. Knock them all down and you can use an All-out Attack to do serious damage to all of them at once.

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Have a cuppa joe

It’s an extremely rewarding system that’s only buoyed by Persona 5 Royal‘s stylish presentation. However, the game is easy. The original release had some challenge to it, but I recommend new players set the game to hard, even if they’re not particularly good at these kinds of games. The quality of life improvements introduced in this version also substantially change up one of the hallmarks of the series. In other games, you have to carefully watch your SP, since running out would basically leave you defenseless. So you’d go into a dungeon and then leave to return another day once your team’s SP started running low.

This does still kind of happen in the very first dungeon. But later, when you’re able to make SP items at home and purchase them from an immortal kid in Mementos, you’ll be able to mostly clear Palaces in one day.

Doing team-building exercises can also have teammates regenerate SP during combat. Sure, most of the Palaces take a few hours, but you’ll have more time for other things this way. There are also three skull-like objects called Will Seeds that you can find in Palaces. Finding all three nets you a useful accessory, but finding one also partially restores your team’s SP. It’s incredibly useful, especially when you complete most of a Palace in just one day.

Persona 5 Royal is obviously a fairly demanding game from a time perspective, though. Including the extra semester, the game can take 130 hours, depending on how you go about playing. Many of those hours are story sequences too, so there’s a lot of watching and listening. The story is engrossing and can be extremely emotional, even if you might not find the cast of characters quite as endearing as the ones in Persona 4. Overall, though, I think this game has the better narrative, as it makes use of a compelling framing device early on and has a villain whose motives are more concrete and less anime villain-y than the one in Persona 4.

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Expected outcome

As for the port, it’s good, as you’d likely expect from other Atlus games. You can play with an uncapped framerate, but Persona 5 Royal can have said framerate dip lower than I had expected. It would drop to 50 fps on some busy streets. In some Palaces, I couldn’t always get my solid 120 fps. But this is the same game we know and love. The only major difference I’ve spotted is that you can now adjust the BGM volume, whereas the PlayStation 4 version allowed no such thing.

Persona 5 Royal is an immense, rewarding experience that deserves to be experienced by gamers regardless of genre preferences. It’s one of the best games you’ll find on any platform, as long as you’re all right with its frequent lack of challenge and you have 100 or so hours to spare stealing hearts and fusing Personae. Given the chance, the Phantom Thieves will likely take your heart, although playing the game won’t make you a better person. Probably, anyway. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about not jumping to conclusions based on tiny bits of evidence? Like game reviews! No, wait!

Persona 5 Royal


Persona 5 Royal is one of the greatest games of all time. With it on PC, we now have the definitive version of it ready to take our hearts all over again.

Andrew Farrell
About The Author
Andrew Farrell has an extreme hearing sensitivity called hyperacusis that keeps him away from all loud noises.  Please do not throw rocks at his window.  That is rude.  He loves action and rpg games, whether they be AAA or indie.  He does not like sports games unless the sport is BASEketball. He will not respond to Journey psych-outs.