A Contract has been Sealed. Again.
You sound... different.
This is a long-form review and uh, open thoughts on Persona 5:Royal 👑. This game came out in 2020 after-all and yo, you guys are sleeping on what could very well be the GOTY for this year.
If you are this kind of person:
- You like JRPGs. You like anime. You like Japanese stuff.
- You played (or watched) Persona 3 and/or Persona 4 and enjoyed those games.
- You really like the movie The Breakfast Club and wish you could play a game that takes the kernel of that screenplay and expands it into a huge, ongoing saga of epic proportions.
- You own a PS5 and Playstation Plus.
- You have a lot of time on your hands.
Then you should play this game. PS5 owners with PS+ will be able to download and play the vanilla version of this game for no additional charge. That game, Persona 5, is good. So good, in fact, that I already wrote a rather lengthy mega-thread about it back in 2017 and it won the Shacknews Best PS4 Game of the Year in the year it came out. That said, if after the first few hours of playing Persona 5 vanilla you're like "Man, I'm really digging this." then I would highly recommend you stop playing and just buy Persona 5: Royal (hereby shortened to P5:R). This game often goes on sale, so by all means wait until it dips down to $40.
Completion time: 161hrs 16min. For comparison's sake, I believe my original Persona 5 vanilla completion time was 128hrs. Played on a base PS4. I paid full-price for this game at launch.
Spouse test: My wife tolerated this game but it didn't really grab her attention.
A little more quick-info: I played on Normal Difficulty and honestly that was probably a mistake. From a gameplay standpoint, it was a bit on the easy side. I only died like twice, and both times it was an accident. There was never any grinding except for in the first dungeon, and even then it was because I was stubbornly trying to get every possible persona from that dungeon before beating it. If you already played Persona 5 once before or just in-general play JRPGs a lot, I would strongly encourage you to do Hard mode from the get-go.
What is Persona 5: Royal?
For those of you that have never played a Persona game:
P5:R is a re-release of the Persona 5 but with additional content. Think of it as a good game with a really good expansion pack already built in. Some of these are quality-of-life improvements that considers the feedback post-release of the vanilla game and so these features are just present throughout the entire playthrough. Even if you only did a partial playthrough of Persona 5 vanilla, you will notice all the small touches that are in P5:R.
In this game, you play as the Main Character (hereby shortened to Ren, the default name). He is a highschool kid that made the mistake of crossing paths with some rich powerful asshole that was drunkenly assaulting a young woman in the middle of the night. He tried to help the young woman, but the asshole tripped and fell, injuring himself. The asshole guy pressed charges on Ren and so as part of his plea deal he had to... move to a different school district and live in the attic by himself in this chic coffee shop in the heart of Tokyo.
"You brat! I'll SUE!"
Sounds like an upgrade, if you ask me. Anyways, everything seems otherwise normal... except for this strange app that keeps showing up on Ren's smartphone. On his first day of school, he meets a fellow kid named Ryuji and through complete accident on the way to school they trespass into an alternate-dimension of reality called the Metaverse. More specifically, a version of their school re-imagined as a castle. The lord of that castle? The high school volleyball coach Kamoshida. In their reality, Kamoshida is an arrogant, hot-shot rockstar, former Olympic gold medalist and prestige hire for the school. In their reality, he physically abuses the boys of the volleyball team under the guise of pushing them to greatness, and actively tries to court or coerce the attractive female students into having sex with him. In the dreamworld of the Metaverse, he is the king of a castle where he tortures the boys and has a harem of young horny girls. See, the Metaverse is a reflection of people's true desires, and if a person has a hidden desire that is strong enough, and if they are a person of some authority, their desire manifests itself in the metaverse as a dungeon or lair. Ren and Ryuji both get thrown into King Kamoshida's dungeon, and just before a gruesome execution Ren awakens to a new, inner power called a Persona that has the ability to fight off the monsters under Kamoshida's will. As they escape, they meet a cat not-a-cat named Morgana that also has a Persona and can show them the way out but only if they agree to help him with a favor later on.
They escaped back into the real world, but because they pissed off the Metaverse-version of Kamoshida, they also got on the bad side of the reality-Kamoshida. He isn't acutely aware of what happened in the Metaverse, of course, but when he sees Ren and Ryuji it brings out the worst in him. He just feels compelled to treat them as unfairly as possible and be rude to them. For reasons that I won't get into here, things between the real Kamoshida and Ren and Ryuji escalate to the point that he promises to expell them from school after a certain day. When Ren explains this to the cat not-a-cat Morgana, he suggests that if they steal a Treasure at the heart of the Metaverse dungeon castle then the real-world Kamoshida will have a change of heart and not expel Ren or Ryuji. Lacking other options, they decide to delve into the dungeon to do just that.
That rat bastard...
By the time you steal Kamoshida's treasure and defeat him, another party member will have joined and you'll probably have somewhere around 8 hours of the game under your belt. The game is divided into each of these sections or chapters where Ren and his friends encounter a new party member, and a new villain that puts the party in jeopardy until they can defeat them in the Metaverse. All the while, you'll be capturing, training, and fusing new Personas which serve as your spell-casting abilities and passive strengths/weaknesses. And this is all just the first part of the game. Stuff escalates from there.
In the real world, you walk around and talk to people like a normal kid...
...But in the Metaverse, you're a costumed, magic-casting bad ass.
The game is split between spending time in the real world and spending time in the dream world. When you're in the real world, you're carefully deciding how to spend your time. Should you study for mid terms next week? Or should you go to the batting cages to play a mini-game and increase your Proficiency? You technically can take as much time as you want, but once you decide on something then that whole segment of time is lost forever. Every in-game calendar day is typically broken up into two segments where you can make these decisions. If you want to go on a play date with a friend to become closer friends with them, even that takes up a segment of time. Nearly everything you decide to do will make you stronger in some way, but the things you choose and the order in which you choose largely determines how strong you are by the end of the game. And how much content you get to play through. So choose carefully!
Spoiler-free Review Zone
For those of you that are already familiar with Persona 5:
I would describe my pace as "leisurely". I would spend a lot of time thinking in the Velvet Room, or leave the game running while doing a house chore or helping my wife with something. I also spent some time in the Thieves Den (more on that later). That said, somebody else here claimed they beat the game in 99 hours which is... I find that hard to believe. I don't think you could beat the game under 100 hours unless you were going for a Bad Ending, or if you were skipping every cutscene or dialog sequence and doing none of the side content. On a Newgame+ run you have access to all your Persona, among other things, so a second playthrough could probably be dramatically reduced.
P5R adds roughly a month of gameplay-days to the calendar, and adds two new confidants to rank up. The game also adds way, WAY more opportunities for you to work on your personal stats; ie Guts, Knowledge, Proficiency, Kindness, and Charm. For example, in P5R even if you're stuck at home in April, you can go into the bathroom and get the mop out to clean the café. This will give you one point of Kindness and one 🎶 from Sojiro (crucial, since that guy needs so many to rank up). There are still a few stretches or handful of days where Morgana says "let's go to sleep" but they are much fewer this time around. By the end of September, I had maxed out all my social stats--which honestly, may have been too aggressive since I missed out on Haru and Futaba, and the Shinya Confidant dumped a bunch of Kindness points that I didn't even need. I did not follow a faq or min/max guide at all. There were a couple of occasions where, to fulfill the Strength Confidant, I resorted to looking up Persona Fuse guides.
I was more successful overall in P5R than P5. In P5 I had only 73% of the Compendium filled, and left three confidants not maxed out. In P5R my compendium was at 93% (and there are more persona, too) and I maxed out all but TWO confidants; Futaba and Haru (of course Haru). For romance, I (just barely in the nick of time) dated the new girl, Yoshizawa. I still feel like Makoto makes the most sense, canonically.
It's not immediately obvious, but all of the DLC for P5—costumes and Personas that were previously paid DLC—are free DLC for P5R. You have to go to the Playstation Store, download it as a separate package, and then restart the game and reload your save. Then go to your room and inspect the cardboard box. Once you look in the box, though, your game will be made easier because the Persona-DLC are basically "pay to win" Personas that have unique skills and are just a bit OP. I ignored them at first but they start showing up in the Fuse recipes, too, so even if you don't summon them from the Compendium, you may end up with one anyways just from naturally fusing whatever you have available. So just be warned, there.
They added this thing called Thieves Den which you'll unlock naturally through playing the game. I won't give away what Thieves Den is, but in there is a minigame that is the BEST minigame of the year, regardless of the game.
Lastly, without spoiling how or when, Persona 5: Royal is one of the few games on the Playstation 4 that utilizes every feature on the Dual Shock 4 controller, and to good use.
Here Be Spoilers!
You should only read this section if:
- You already beat Persona 5: Royal.
- You are never ever ever going to play Persona 5 or Persona 5 Royal but you're bored and need something to read anyway.
"Let's execute 'em!!"
Valerie Arem. Remember that name.
After I beat Catherine: Full Body and Persona 5: Royal I paid very close attention to the credits as it pertained to English voice-acting. The most senior-sounding title in that department for both games was something like "Casting Director" and that title was held by Valerie Arem in both cases. I may be wrong, but I have to assume that she was the person in the sound booth during recording providing the actors some direction and feedback. If you check her imdb, it looks like she got her start as a voice actor herself in a bunch of games starting around the mid 2000s, but transitioned to more of a producer/director type role in the 2010s. She is, I believe, part of the reason why the voice acting is so good in both of those games. (The other reason being the talent itself, of course).
Some people around here complain that the voice acting in JRPGs sucks. Particularly, the English dubs. Those people haven't played Catherine or Persona 5. Below are some of my favorite moments in either game. Use a desktop browser if possible, as these links will include the timecodes and skip automatically. Otherwise, you'll have to manually skip to timecode written:
Catherine / Catherine: Full Body
Vincent, played by Troy Baker, 2011
This line cracks me up every time. It's probably my favorite use of the f-bomb in a game ever. Try to keep in mind, in 2011 this game had come out hot after my first Persona 4 playthrough. In Persona 4, there's no f-bomb (none that I can think of). So this line read here in Catherine, one of the first you hear in the game, really sets the tone right away, like, Hey, expect some stronger language here. It really shocked me in a comical way the first time I played it. Doesn't hurt that Troy Baker, aka Kanji Tatsumi aka Joel from TLOU is a stone-cold pro.
Persona 5 / Persona 5: Royal
Ryuji, played by Max Mittelman, 2017
This scene is relatively early in the game and is the second time you see a Persona awaken with a character. The first one was with the main character. From a workload standpoint, the amount of lines Ryuji has in this game is probably more than anyone else. In a way, because he's with you nearly the whole time, Ryuji is basically the star of the show. The main character never says much--not verbally, anyhow. So, I imagine that whoever they cast as Ryuji, they need to pick someone who can work a lot at a consistent level of quality. Max Mittelman does an INCREDIBLE job with Ryuji. Ryuji's line reads never feel lazy or rushed, and there's always some sort of "character" added that feels consistent across the board. In the clip I provided, Max let's out a scream that just feels so... vulnerable and angry in a way you don't ever really hear in other videogames. It's easy to write off Ryuji because he's such a... Jessie Pinkman I guess if that makes any sense but really... he's got the best lines and the best performance overall. Really carries the game.
Persona 5 / Persona 5:Royal
Sojiro, played by Jamieson Price, 2017
(Any of them. It's funny every time.)
Sojiro Sakura is a god damn treasure and I absolutely love that "Hoo boy" is a meme. I'm a big fan of Jamieson Price's work. I immediately recognize him as Duke Red from Metropolis (2001) but his first notable credit is the Colonel from Akira--yes, the Akira. Everything about this line read, down to the little "heh" he playfully throws in there at the end that's not written in the script, is great.
Persona 5 / Persona 5:Royal
Makoto, played by Cherami Leigh, 2017
This might be one of those situations where the material and the character design is just so good that it makes it easy for the voice actor to live up to the role, but Makoto is a very, very cool character. Makoto is a calm, straight-laced valedictorian in the real world because the people around her have pressured her into being as perfect and obedient as possible. Thus, when she finally wakes up to her alter-ego in the Metaverse, she is finally free to be... angry. The voice actress Cherami really "gets" in touch with this anger and honestly my favorite Makoto moments are the random audio-barks that happen during or just after combat (Don't forget this feeling!).
When it comes to the voice acting in this game, it's unrivaled. Full stop. End of discussion. I haven't even brought up Goro Akechi, or Caroline/Justine (played by the same person!!!). People that say the voice acting sucks in this game send a 100% accurate signal to me that they don't know what they're talking about.
That's the "Best" Part
I am prepared to talk about where this game's... shortcomings. I feel a kind of moral disappointment that perhaps a father feels for their son when they discover that they spray-painted a penis on the side of their neighbor's barn. A quiet, but resolute why the fuck did you do this? kind of disappointment.
So, in this game, you can (and should) go on these little outings with all your friends and aquaintences in order to increase your bond with them. When you do this, you increase your Confidant level, and as a result your Personas will become stronger as you fuse them in the Velvet room. In other words, being good, empathetic, and treating your associates well has a direct relationship with how strong you will be in battle. For the female confidants, at Level 9 you are granted an opportunity to confess your love for this person and they in turn become your girlfriend. Even your homeroom teacher, Kawakami, is one of the women you can date in this game.
Let me clarify my feelings here:
- Highschoolers having intimate relationships with highschoolers: Sure, fine. I might even argue this is a normal part of life where people learn about the trials and tribulations of love and relationships.
- Highschoolers having intimate relationships with adults above the age of 20 or 21: Morally repugnant, but if the highschooler is a senior and 18 years of age I guess that's okay. In the context of this videogame, where Ren could possibly date the Clinic Doctor, Fortune Teller or the Journalist (obviously into their mid 20's at least), I am like, "okay fine, whatever. Sure."
- Highschoolers having intimate relationships... with their own teachers: Gross. This is actually illegal and kind of a big problem in this country. But even setting that aside; This sets up Ren to be the biggest fucking hypocrite in the history of videogames, ever.
Like, you spend the first Act of this game exacting moral vengence on Kamoshida for, among other things, manipulating and using his position of power to sexually take advantage of girls under his care. So, for the creator's of this game to say "Yeah and later on in the game, you can date your high school teacher." is just so... like it completely undercuts the point of finding justice for Ann Takemi and her friend Shiho! What the fuck!
Further still, the game does not restrict how many different girls or women you can get to agree to be your girlfriend. You can technically date them all.
The game plays up the Valentine's Day multi-girl outcome for laughs, but honestly I think if you pursue dating more than one girl it should fate you to a bad-ending or not true-ending. Dating multiple girls is basically sociopath behavior, which... is counter to everything else the game is holding up as virtues like growing bonds being being a true friend.
In defense of the creators at P-Studio:
- You never see any actual sexual activity occur between Ren and his girlfriend(s). It's just a black screen of text, and it never claims anything explicit. So I guess they could just be holding hands like Pleasantville citizens the whole time.
- In the case of Kawakami, they made it possible to "fail" that Confidant 9 test with a dialogue option. So you have to jump through one more hoop than usual. (I think this is a rather pathetic defense, though).
Bottom line: P-Studio fucked up. Kawakami should NOT be date-able. Not just because it's morally gross but even moreso because it completely breaks the moral highground that the protagonist is supposed to have against his antagonists.
I should also note that, in P5:R, there were opportunities to go on dates with Caroline/Justine but I did not entertain that because I am worried that the end game there is dating two twins that are also like only ten or eleven years old in appearance and that if that's the case then that is some next-level WTF that I can't deal with.
A Conflict with Confidants
This is starting to get into a nebulous discussion about game design and design theory, but the Social Link / Confidant system in Persona games have a critical flaw. To clear up, again, what these are for the benefit of non-players: there are roughly 20 or so named-characters in the game (some party members, some not) that are associated with a Tarot card like "Hierophant" or "Lovers" and when you spend time with that person, your "bond" deepens and you level up all persona fusions of that tarot type. There are some social links that are part of the critical-path in the story and so without any agency or volition on your part you will start the game at level 0 and end the game at level 10 with that particular social link. The others, however, require you to prioritize and set aside time for and choose as the Player of the game. The first few cutscenese you unlock with each level will set up this character's back story and by the time you get halfway through these social links, there will emerge some sort of conflict or pressure from that the NPC has with their backstory. In the case of Persona 5, you'll likely have to step in and complete a sidequest to defeat their antagonist in the Metaverse in order to progress. By the time you get to level 10, their conflict has resolved and they—the social link NPC—grew as a person. But again, reaching level 10 with any of these social links means investing a LOT of in-game time.
This means that, from the game Designer's standpoint, they can't be 100% sure which or how many (if any) social links the Player has unlocked at any given point in the game. So when they write the critical-path story, they have to assume the possibility that all your closest friends are just blank-slates in terms of where their character progression is. As you play the game, you'll pick up on moments here and there but the WORST offender is the True Ending of the game. If you picked one of the party members as your girlfriend, like Kasumi for example, when you reach the end of the game and the hand-drawn, 2d animated cutscene ending plays, she basically just winks and nods at you as you get on the train that takes you back home to your parents. Like... that's it? Even after that super-elaborate valentine's day or white day date we went on? I don't know about you guys, but back when I was in highschool the romances that I had were intense and very emotional. For the game to assume that, despite getting really, really close to some (but not all) of these characters throughout the game yet write them as blank-slate friends in the critical-path cutscenes... it just breaks the immersion. By the way, Persona is not the only offender, here. I suspect the Mass Effect series suffers a similar sort of "cognitive dissonance" where you can romance and increase the bond in various characters, but when things get dramatic during the normal quest line, everyone is blank-slate.
What would I do differently? Unfortunately, I don't know if there's an easy answer. I think perhaps I would write the social links to have mutually-exclusive aspects to them that, as you increase the bond in one, you close off the possibilities of another. So that instead of creating a long-duration game of cutscene events that's shaped like a big stem of only 3 endings that are unrelated to social link activity, it's a shorter-duration game of many endings that fork off from earlier parts of the trunk. Right now Studio-0 is working on something not related to Persona that I guess is going to be a high-fantasy themed game, but here's hoping that Persona 6 maybe re-thinks how to do social links in a way that isn't so jarring.
Anyways... those are my objections. This game is still a 10 outta 10 on the Wikus scale, because it makes me feel and think about things on a scale that other games just don't come close to. My review scale is on a scale of personal-passion, not extrinsic global considerations of what I suppose other people would value it.
Thoughts on Persona 5: Royal's Final Boss
Again, just reiterating here: really, REALLY big spoilers here specific to Persona 5: Royal and Persona 5 vanilla. Don't read if you're gonna play and beat this game because this shit below will ruin it for you.
Alright, here we go.
The biggest shock to me in this game. I was fuckin' floored.
I'm just gonna list off some villains of varying notariety:
- Heath Ledger's Joker
- Kingpin from Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
- Dick Jones from OCP
These are all villains that have certain convictions as the basis of their actions, and they all have one thing in common: they're all overtly evil. They aren't mustache-twirling cartoon characters, per se, but all of them, regardless of their conviction, are just plain unpleasant people to be around. I don't think I'd want to have a cup of coffee with any of them. Maybe Thanos, but even then I wouldn't feel at ease. There's a certain "This is a bad guy" radar that just goes off when you're in their presence. And, to be clear, these are villains that are 100% aware of that fact and even relish in it. Even when they're well-written, we have plenty of villains like this. And I think when it comes to videogames, this caliber of villain is the best we can hope for but more often they fall short into the mustache-twirling category (and Kefka is kinda already there).
Now I'm gonna list a different, shorter, less-notable set of villains from film:
- Christof, aka Ed Harris from The Truman Show
- Doctor Octavious from Sam Raimi's Spiderman 2
- Doctor Howard Mierzwiak aka Tom Wilkinson from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Big Bob from Pleasantville
These are all powerful villains that I might characterize as "benign" villains. They have a conviction, or belief about the world and wish to use their power to make that world a better place. In the case of Truman Show, it's shielding Truman from the real-world and making things as in his world as good for Truman as they can be. Doc Ock wanted humanity to have an unlimited supply of free energy. Dr. Mierzwiak, though not the TRUE villain of the movie, wanted to give people a way to cleanly forget past traumas so they could move on with their lives. Big Bob, the mayor of Pleasantville, wanted to keep things from changing and to stay as pleasant as possible in their world. I tend to enjoy watching these villains more than the above villains I listed because, I think, they still have a conscious and still act with a moral compass (even if it's a little broken). They have intentions that are legitimately good intentions. I don't like Big Bob as a person, but the others on that list are people I could probably have a cup of coffee with and still feel okay about myself.
Dr. Maruki, from P5:R, is one of these benign villains. He is perhaps the best written villain in videogames.
In P5:R, you meet Maruki as a friendly school counselor hired on by the school to provide counseling to students that were effected by the incidents involving Kamoshida. He's a warm, truly kind man and dedicated to his profession of mental health. Throughout the game, you'll visit and speak with him to increase your confidant level. The contents of Ren's discussion aren't fully detailed, but it's safe to assume Ren told Maruki as much about his troubles as he reasonably could. The rest of your party members did the same, except Morgana I suppose. At some point in the past, Maruki made a contract with a Persona after his fiancée gets in a terrible accident and completely loses her memory of him. When the main character destroys Yaldabaoth, Maruki's persona takes over the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail, if you recall, is the source of the Metaverse and the source of collective unconcious. It's not 100% clear to me how this could possibly work, but Maruki's persona makes it possible to re-shape reality to be as good and enjoyable as possible for everyone. Presumably, everyone on Earth I guess. If any of you have seen Bruce Almighty, then it might not take long for you to think wait, but humans have conflicts every day that are mutually-exclusive outcomes for one person to be happy and the other to be unhappy. Well, I guess that's thinking too hard. Let's just let it be that, somehow, someway, Maruki has the power to make everyone Happy and content with their life.
So, of course, at the end of the game instead of having to face jail time Ren is instead greeted by Goro Akechi who says he'll explain everything to the police in such a way that Ren will never have to go to jail. This is all wonderful except... Ren was pretty sure Goro Akechi was killed in Shido's Metaverse dungeon like a month ago. Yet, nobody else around him seems to question it. When Ren goes back to his attic at the Leblanc coffee shop, Morgana the cat not-a-cat has been replaced by an attractive teenage boy calling himself Morgana. Futaba's mother is back with Sojiro. Haru is planning a new Big Bang Burger location with her dad. These are all... good things but they're all factually impossible. The only people that seem to be wise to it are Ren and Goro Akechi. If I recall correctly, the only reason why Goro Akechi is alive at all is because that's the thing that Ren desired the most. Ren doesn't really talk in the game, but one can infer that he must've genuinely liked Akechi despite his (huge) character flaws.
Ren, Akechi, and newcomer Kasumi agree to work together to investigate how it is that everyone is living in this dreamy world and discover that Dr. Maruki has his own dungeon (er, "Palace" but whatever) at the city's stadium. After a brief face off against Maruki, he challenges Ren to confront his friends and determine for himself whether it's right or not to break them of the spell. This whole chapter of the game has a melancholy, "Last Temptation of Jesus Christ" feel to it, as you go from friend to friend and ask them to remember their past and let them come to the uncomfortable conclusion that their living in a fabricated dream world.
The game offers You multiple times where you can just agree to live on in Maruki's dream world and sell out. If you do this, you get a unique "Bad" ending but it's more sad than bad because it's seeing everyone legitimately happy in a place and manner that's just incompatible with growth. It's pure arrested development. Everyone gets to stay together, forever.
Of course, Ren and Akechi agree that it's not heaven if it's not something you fought and earned yourself. This conclusion that the main characters come to is one of the most low-key poignant philosophical epiphanies I've come across in any media. I've dwelled on the ending of this game and this end villain, a lot.
When Ren assembles his team of friends, they set out to get to Maruki and fight him to stop him. The entire time, he never "breaks character" and turns heel. He's a completely reasonable guy the whole time, to the very end. There's even a moment in the game when, in the "real" world, he visits Ren in the coffee shop before the final controntation just to give him one last "Hey, are you really sure you want to go this way?" and even at that point you can sell out and get the Sad ending and damned if I'll be that it's still a tempting offer, even then. By this point in the game, I really don't want to beat up this guy and make him give up his dreams of making a perfect world. Like, especially in the context of playing this game in 2020, a year that everyone has universally agreed been far from perfect for a lot of people. What Maruki's offering sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
You forgot something...
When it came time to beat Maruki, I didn't feel good about it. It wasn't like beating Shido. Or even Yaldaboath. I was bummed.
Crazier still, when you defeat Maruki it un-does all of his illusions of an ideal world. Time doesn't rewind, but Ren instead reverts to the consequences of what would've happened in the real world. Which means Ren would likely wake up in jail and having been jail for a couple months. Akechi died back in Shido's Palace, so of course he would cease to exist.
None of this is Bad
Spoilers for the series finale of the tv show The Good Place. Be warned.
In the show The Good Place, after escaping the Bad Place, re-living the real world a 2nd time, proving the injustice of the afterlife and fixing heaven, our main characters find themselves in a well-deserved permanent vacation in heaven. Eventually, Chidi Anagonye feels that it's time to leave because he "feels a quietude in his soul" and then walks about and re-visits (replicas) all of the locations and places of significance in his mortal life, remembering and savoring each one, before going home one last time. This scene is one of the most haunting and affecting scenes in television history, and Persona 5 makes you do the exact same thing at the end of the game.
In Persona 5:Royal, they even re-wrote the Goodbye between Ren and Sojiro. At the beginning, before Ren says his goodbyes, he talks to Sojiro and gives him the diary where Ren saved the game as a memento to remember him by. After Ren walks and revisits all the places to say goodbye to each of his friends, he comes back and stays the night one last time. The next morning, he leave but not before thanking Sojiro. Sojiro just says "Yeah." and Ren leaves. Before the camera cuts, Sojiro pulls out the diary and wipes away tears.
This moment. Every time I think back on this moment it absolutely destroys me.
The ending of this game is so... profound and complete that, despite being a 10 outta 10 and maybe #1 GOTY 2020 and maybe #1 Game of the Generation, the idea of starting over a New Game to play it again repulses me. I think the reason why I feel that way is because the game makes you do the same walk that Chidi did. Saying goodbye to everyone and every place. Starting a new game would betray the finality of that act.
Persona 5: Royal is a damn good game, and I'll always cherish the time I had with it. I can't wait to see what this team comes up with next.