A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Persona 5 Royal is a role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 4, and is the latest installment in the series. Players take on the role of the Phantom Thieves, a group of teens that break into the minds and memories of corrupt figures in Japan to get them to confess their crimes. While the characters are a diverse group of kids and have the best interests of everyone at heart, they do perform heists and steal items to get their targets to come around. The infiltration of villains' minds plays out like a traditional dungeon crawler, and is easy to grasp for fans of this kind of game. The juggling of your young teen life, including balancing schoolwork, jobs, relationships, and more with time-sensitive deadlines can be very stressful. Combat in the game is fought with hand-to-hand weapons, firearms, magical spells, and magical abilities. While blood is shown in some cutscenes and as a result of finishing moves, the effect looks cartoonish rather than realistic. Female characters wear varying outfits, ranging from tight clothing to short skirts, bikinis, or other revealing clothes, showing legs, midriff, and lots of cleavage. All kinds of swear words are used in dialogue, with "s--t" used most frequently, and there are also lots of lewd comments, including objectifying language. One character is frequently found in a bar drinking, and is often drunk, while another character sells drugs to the player to help their party heal. A separate plot also revolves around students being used as drug couriers.
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What's it about?
PERSONA 5 ROYAL is the latest chapter in the Persona role-playing game (RPG) franchise, and is an expanded version of the game that was released in 2017. It casts the player as a student trying to prevent a sexual assault and paying for his good deed by being framed and arrested by the police. Put under probation, he's sent far away to attend a new school and put his life back together, only to discover that rumors have spread through the student body that he's a violent criminal. Even worse, he finds himself stumbling into an alternate reality called the Metaverse one day with other students. This odd mirror world seems to capture the desires, wishes, and dreams of people, presenting twisted reflections of people and locations, as well as monsters that can be fought and collected. Gathering together and calling themselves the Phantom Thieves, the students try to change the evil deeds of influential people before it's too late, by stealing desires and personal treasures, while also responding to the pressures of high school. Royal adds a lot of new content, such as a third school semester, new music, new social activities, new cutscenes to expand and remake the story, and redesigned dungeons. Players will gain access to a new grappling hook, which gives them the option to reach new locations, a customizable Phantom Thieves den packed with achievements and unlockable items, and even new characters.
Is it any good?
Instead of adding minor fixes and adjustments to an already great game, this RPG packs in so much gameplay that it feels like a new game. Some things that Persona 5 Royal includes you'd expect out of virtually any "director's cut" of a game, like adding more voice acting in either English or Japanese during key story moments (players have the option of choosing which they prefer at the start). Older cutscenes have been re-edited to include new characters and events, which helps to flesh out the game's story. There's even an extra school semester that expands the gameplay significantly, with new holidays, events, and exams. In most cases, that would be enough, but that's barely scratching the surface. Not only are there new characters that you can interact with (and get to help you in your adventure), but there's a new location called Kichijoji, which includes a sports bar where you can play pool and darts with your Phantom Thief friends, a jazz bar you can hang out in and invite people to, and clothing stores to sell off gear to collect in battle. It's definitely a location you'll want to return to often. Similarly, there's a Thieves Den feature that gives you a space full of unlockable content, like new music, character models, artwork, and more. It even has challenges that you can complete simply by playing the main story and side missions, and a card game inserted as well.
Dungeons have received a significant overhaul as well, thanks to a grappling hook feature, which can be used to reach hidden areas or even ambush opponents from a distance. Some dungeons have new layouts, including items called Will Seeds in areas that are off the beaten path. These items restore your magic points and can give significant bonuses when their entire set is collected. The randomized dungeons known as Momentos have been enhanced as well, with larger levels, as well as an in-dungeon store that can provide bonus experience, money, and items when you're exploring these areas. And for Persona 5 veterans, the key adjustment of restocking your ammo after each fight means that you no longer have to spare your ranged weapon attacks during a mission, which makes them vastly more useful. If there's a downside to Royal, it's that there are so many things to do and so many options that get presented to you, especially when your group grows past four members, that it can be daunting to figure out what activity you should do when, and with what characters. But Persona 5 Royal is so large that you'll love diving into it (or reintroducing yourself to its gameplay) for dozens of hours.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sex and gender in video games. Why do you think some characters in Persona 5 Royal make comments about sex and women? How do these comments make you feel? Does this add to or detract from the gameplay?
Is the impact of the violence in Persona 5 Royal affected by the cartoonish nature of the gameplay and monsters you fight? Would the impact be intensified if the enemies and combat were more realistic?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Atlus
- Release date: March 31, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: January 22, 2021
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