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A still from the video game Persona 5 Royal, which has been re-released for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC. Photo: Atlus

Persona 5 Royal re-release takes the perfect Japanese RPG to another level

  • Originally a PlayStation 4 title, Persona 5 Royal has been re-released on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC
  • The most important change is the ability to now play it on the go, creating an even more complete JRPG experience
Video gaming

It very well may be the greatest Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) ever made.

In a way, this is all you need to know about Persona 5 Royal, the wild and crazy role-playing game from developers Atlus and Sega.

Released in 2016 on the PlayStation 3 and 4, Persona 5 is an ultra-intense JRPG that blends a gutsy, captivating story with characters who jump to life and feel distinct, and stunning anime-level visuals. Persona 5 Royal, an enhanced version released on the PlayStation 4 that added new content, was released in 2019.

However, the re-release of Royal on multiple platforms – PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch and PC – takes things to another level for a variety of reasons.

A still from Persona 5 Royal. Photo: Atlus

The game has found new and stunning levels of portability by making the jump to the Nintendo Switch, the Xbox Series X/S (via Xbox’s cloud gaming platform) and PC (via the Steam Deck). Over the last six years, I’ve burned weekend upon weekend sitting on my couch playing Persona 5. Now, I can do it on planes, on the train, and anywhere I want to play the title.

We’ll get to that in a moment, but first the basics of why Persona 5 is spectacular, and it starts with a terrific story and an excellent battle system.

At its core, Persona 5 is like most JRPGs, delivering a turn-based battling experience and letting you traverse some sort of open world.

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But no RPG creates levels to the turn-based experience quite like Persona. As the game goes on, you gradually learn ever more wrinkles, speaking to enemies to get them to join your team, and using their abilities to augment those of key characters.

Monster-fusing becomes a big (and terrifically enjoyable) part of this game, as you combine enemies who’ve joined your fight into more and more vicious assistants.

That core gameplay is augmented by a terrific story: you play as Joker, a character who’s been in some trouble in recent years and, as a result, has had to transfer to a different school.

A still from Persona 5 Royal. Photo: Atlus

Eventually, you form a team of heroes known as the Phantom Thieves, who essentially head into the minds of some questionable people, battling their inner consciousnesses and eventually pushing them to confess back in the “real world”.

It’s Inception, video-game style, and with a little more conscience, too. The game regularly finds ways to make you wonder if what you’re doing is right.

In between all this battling, you play the part of the student, buying books from a local bookstore, cleaning your room and answering legitimately hard trivia questions in class.

You also build relationships with your team (if you so choose, that is) and, in classic JRPG fashion, maybe push toward a romance.

A still from Persona 5 Royal. Photo: Atlus

It was a perfectly balanced JRPG six years ago, and with its re-release, it somehow becomes even more flawless. That’s in part because the Switch and Xbox consoles permit you to play Persona 5 on the go.

The Nintendo Switch version is impressive, to say the least. Not all games translate flawlessly to the Switch, but Persona 5 makes the move perfectly.

There’s nary a frame-rate drop-off, and the visuals are as crisp and clear as what I remember from the PlayStation 4 version I’ve been playing for years. Sound is great too.

And especially on the Switch OLED, the action is vibrant and easy to follow, even on the small screen. That’s courtesy of the details and excellently drawn characters and villains, each of whom jump to life.

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The Xbox Series X/S version has a bit more pop on the big screen, as you might imagine. But the truly magical victory here is that I can play the game on a (much) smaller screen too. This is an Xbox Game Pass title, so by downloading Game Pass on an appropriate Android device (like my Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4), I can actually play the game right on my phone.

Sure, on some phones, this won’t play out well, but on the Fold, I can see everything, especially when paired with a controller (removing the on-screen controls from the equation).

It’s an experience I’ve rapidly grown addicted to, a satisfying way to game that I never thought possible.

It all adds up to an even more complete JRPG experience than the already masterful Persona 5 Royal. For six years, this has been the finest, most addictive JRPG experience out there.

By bringing it to PC, Switch and Xbox, Atlus and Sega managed to make it even better.