My first exposure to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise was with Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne on the PS2, back in 2003. I had just gotten a PS2 and had only recently started expanding my scope of RPG’s beyond Pokémon and Super Mario RPG. Truthfully, I had also just discovered Devil May Cry, and the fact that Dante was also in the game drew my curiosity toward it further.
Little did I know that Shin Megami Tensei 3 was far more difficult than I had expected, and I could never get past the first boss. I would always admire the SMT franchise from afar as something I knew was good, but wasn’t good enough to play. In this vein, I largely missed out on the Persona franchise as well—knowing it to be a spin-off of SMT, but never really playing any of them.
When I saw Persona 5, however, I knew this was something I needed to play. It had style, it had form, and it had one of the best video game soundtracks I had ever heard, but I largely slept on that one, mainly due to financial constraints. What better way to finally experience it then, now that it’s released on the Nintendo Switch, and I gotta say, I am beyond impressed.
I won’t go into laborious detail about it since CGM’s own Zubi Khan wrote a pretty extensive review of Persona 5 Royal not but two years ago—and probably from a more familiar place than I. Rather, my focus is more on its status as a Switch port, having reviewed so many Switch ports of wildly ranging degrees of quality. But I can confidently say, Persona 5 Royal is one of the best ports I’ve played on the Switch—between this and NieR: Automata: The End of YoRHA Edition, the Switch has really been on a roll.
“…Persona 5 Royal is one of the best ports I’ve played on the Switch…”
Obviously, it’s not going to be a perfect transition, due to the Switch’s inferior hardware, but it’s so minor as to almost be insignificant. Persona 5 Royal looks incredible while playing in docked, and maintains its quality even in handheld, though you’ll notice a bit of a reduction in resolution—more so in handheld, and mostly on some smaller details like posters and small print. Perhaps more keen eyes than mine might be able to see any reductions in relation to the PS4/Xbox One, or even current Gen versions. The bulk of the game looks absolutely incredible, due to a mixture of knowing where to focus the graphics and the game’s impeccable sense of style.
From the animated cutscenes that all look sharp and run smoothly, to the crisp lines of character profiles, everything that needs to be focused on is presented with clarity and high-fidelity. If I have any complaint about the visuals, it’s in the strange way the colours seem really contrasted, and sometimes very dark, but it’s nothing turning up the in-game brightness can’t fix.
Not only that, but Persona 5 Royal plays incredibly well too. Performance is not an issue here—which I’m sure should be a given, considering it’s a more contained, structured RPG in comparison to something like NeiR: Automata. In all my time playing, both exploring the world as my character, or traversing and battling through Palaces as Joker, I experienced no slowdown or stuttering. Given this game’s fast-paced narrative style of gentleman thieves stealing people’s hearts, you really don’t want it chugging along at 10 frames per-minute.
“…Persona 5 Royal looks incredible while playing in docked, and maintains its quality even in handheld…”
It’s amazing to see a game like Persona 5 Royal, in fact the Persona series since Persona 3 and 4 Golden are both on their way to the Switch, because it certainly feels like they belong there. I think the release of Shin Megami Tensei V did a good job of both familiarizing new players to the SMT style of recruiting demons (or in this case Personas), and it’s style of combat that of exploiting enemy weaknesses and following up for brutal attacks, and the inclusion of Joker in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ignited players’ interest in where this unique character came from.
Furthermore, Persona 5 Royal’s unique blend of character interaction and bond-forming, combined with methodical dungeon crawling—that’s balanced by a time limit suits a handheld system like the Switch perfectly, where players can pick it up in small bursts to get through a bit of a dungeon, or pass some time at the batting cages. Furthermore, its combination of solid graphics and excellent performance are capped off by a game that isn’t super demanding on both the battery or the hard-drive—clocking in at about 1.2 GB or storage space.
I am genuinely floored by, not only how good Persona 5 Royal is on the Switch, but how good it is, PERIOD. It may very well enter the hallowed halls of my favourite games list and is a high recommendation for anyone who may be new to the franchise—you don’t need to play the others for this to make sense—or anyone who is familiar and wants an excellent version on their Nintendo handheld. It’s an insanely fun, insanely approachable, and insanely entertaining RPG that needs to be played, if not for the soundtrack alone.