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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (496)

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House Party 3.5/5
Persona 5 Royal 4.5/5
A Hat in Time 3.5/5
Sunset Overdrive 4/5
The Vagrant 4/5
Honkai: Star Rail 3.5/5
MechWarrior 5: Mercenar... 4/5
Rage 2 3.5/5
Alan Wake 4/5
Riverbond 3.5/5
Dead Island 2 3.5/5
Saints Row IV 3.5/5
The Last of Us Part II 4.5/5
Torchlight III 3/5
Wolfenstein II: The New... 4/5
Ghost of Tsushima 4.5/5
Battletoads (2020) 2/5
Danganronpa: Trigger Ha... 4/5
Override: Mech City Bra... 3/5
Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5

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Persona 5 Royal   PlayStation 5 

It Will Steal Your Heart - and Lots of Time, Too    4.5/5 stars

Originally a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series, the original Persona came out back in 1996. However, the current version of the Persona most people know and love started with Persona 3 in 2000 - adding social links and this aspect has carried over to 4 and 5 (with negotiations thrown in for good measure). In fact, the Persona series has outgrew Shin Megami Tensei and became more popular than the main series. Atlus shows no sign of slowing down, having just released Persona 3 Reload - and updated version of the third entry - and I'm sure a sixth entry will appear in due time.

Looks and Stuff: The Royal version takes full advantage of current generation with its anime styling shining throughout - be it in fully animated cut-scenes, battles or the sandbox-like exploration. The sheer breath of the both the characters design and huge variety of enemies is a wonder to behold. The voice cast is exceptional - be it Japanese or in English and it includes a bunch of industry voice-over heavy hitters - Matthew Mercer, Cherami Leigh, Laura Post, Michelle Ruff, Amanda Winn Lee, Erica Lindbeck and William Salyers among the many, many talented actors who lent their voices to a very big undertaking. Likewise, the music is stellar with series regular Shoji Meguro providing roughly 80% of the output with Toshiki Konishi, Kenichi Tsuchiya, Atsushi Kitajoh, and Ryota Kozuka (who also working on previous Persona games) rounding out the score. It's one of the best-sounding games out there, in terms of voices and music and truly shines as much as the animation.

Story: I could write A LOT about Persona 5 here, but I'll try to keep things light and spoiler-free as much as possible. The main character aka Joker finds himself transferred to a new school after an "incident" and being taken in by the gruff coffee-shop owner Sojiro Sakura. Japan has been recently rocked by a series of bizarre accidents resulting in several deaths. At his new school Shujin Academy, Joker makes a quick friend in the brash Ryuji Sakamoto, a former track star who was injured and now considers himself an outside like Joker. He has no love for former Olympic medal winner and current track/volleyball coach Suguru Kamoshida - and it turns out, his mistrust is justified as they witness his inappropriate behavior towards fellow student Ann Takamaki, who also works part-time as a model - behavior that is also abusive. Things abruptly change when Joker finds a strange app on his phone - as well as dreaming of strange prison, dubbed the Velvet Room, run by a warden, Igor, and twin guards Caroline and Justine. He is told that in order to escape his death sentence he will have to be rehabilitated and is told of the powers of the persona. He is charged with changing the hearts of those whose twisted desires have formed palaces to their wicked ways. Both he and Ryuji find themselves transported to a twisted version of reality - a Metaverse if you will - and nearly die at the hands of vicious creatures - and a figure who looks like Kamoshida - before being saved by Joker's emerging persona, along with Morgana, a talking cat who has knowledge of the Metaverse.

Morgana explains that palaces are the result of the twisted desires of certain individuals - and that in order to elicit a change of heart in that person, they must seek out the treasure and steal it. After several visits to Kamoshida's palace, Ryuji unlocks his own persona. After fellow student Yuuki Mishima comes forward with abuse allegations, Kamoshida doesn't back down and instead plans to expel Joker, Ryuji and Mishima - but soon after, Ann's close friend Shiho Suzui attempts suicide and Ann knows it is because of Kamoshida - and this causes her own persona to emerge. The trio dub themselves the Phantom Thieves of Hearts and work towards stealing the palace treasure before Kamoshida's threat of expulsion can play out. After their early success, Morgana also introduces them to Mementos - an ever-expanding palace of "everyone" where shadows can also be found - and this leads them to their next target.

The larger story going on is that the Phantom Thieves and their change of hearts is not too dissimilar from the mental shutdown accidents that have been plaguing the city. Thus, they find themselves going from heroes to pariahs - even as the forces who are actually behind the mental shutdowns plan their own moves - using the Phantom Thieves as pawns in a much more dangerous game. Joker will make many other friends along the way - and unlock their own personas - as they work to not just save individuals - but perhaps the whole of Japan.

Gameplay: There are a lot of mechanics going on - turn-based battles, persona gathering (requiring either negotiation tactics or, later on, useful skills to bypass this), combining personas into new, more powerful personas, upgrading your own skills along with just gaining XP, weapons, armor, rings - companions you can hang out with (or even date) that provide their own benefits in battle, mini games galore, going to school and acing tests - oh, and this is all on a time-based system (days pass), so you have to figure out what you want to do, who you want to hang out with and when you should go to Mementos or when you should just wash some laundry or pass out as the sauna. This game is just A LOT - and I put in well over 100 hours - and each one was well spent. Once again, going into the details here would necessitate a book roughly the size of War and Peace, but needless to say, whether you like turn-based battles, social fun or just fishing, you'll never run out of things to do in this game. About the only knock I have against this game, and keeping me from giving it the rare 5/5 is that there might just be too much? By the time I got to the Royal portion, I was feeling just a bit burnt out. I love just about everything about the game but by the end I just wanted something different.

Replay value: Considering just how long this game turned out to be, man, it would take a saint to go through it a second time. But if you missed out on something, I guess you have no choice. Still, given how many versions of this game have been released, maybe it isn't so bad after all?

Final Verdict: Those who think modern turn-based RPGs are dead should give this one a try as it is one of the best examples of old-school RPGs in the modern era.

Presentation: 5/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4.5/5



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