Persona 5 Royal: Let’s Do This!

When I played my first Persona game, Persona 3 Portable, it was an eye-opening experience. Part turn-based, world-saving combat, part life simulator, it was unlike anything I’d ever played before. At the time I completed it, this “newcomer” to the series, Persona 5 Royal was about a year from release. It’s original version from 2016, Persona 5, was old news, but it was still new to me. And when we got our PlayStation 5, one of the first things I did was download Persona 5 from its PS Plus Collection.

And there it sat, and sat, and…sat. It eventually became one of my “someday” games. And, remembering just how long it took me to get through P3P, that “someday” likely wouldn’t come until I had enough time to tackle it. Which would be, honestly, never, if my calendar was anything to go by. But I digress. The fact is, after P3P, the drive to play another from the series just wasn’t strong enough to motor over all the other things I wanted to play. Fast-forward to late 2022 when a number of good things fell into place, not the least of which was the game appearing on Game Pass, and suddenly Persona 5 Royal was a thing I could ignore no longer.

It’s tough being the new kid.

After a pretty wild opening involving a casino heist and arrest, along with an introduction to the series’ general mechanics, I settled into life as Kai Yasuda, a sixteen-year-old high school student. Only Kai was no normal student. An attempt to be an upstanding citizen resulted in him obtaining a criminal record (unrelated to the seemingly out-of-place casino heist at the beginning, in which he was also involved) and subsequent expulsion from school. Kai ends up on probation and gets shipped off to attend school in Tokyo for a year, while staying with (and occasionally working for) a friend of his family’s named Sojiro Sakura. He’s enrolled at Shujin Academy, where he’s the talk of the town, so to speak, as not only the new kid on the block, but one with a sordid past.

What we do to “make friends,” yeesh.

Deemed an outsider, Kai finds friends in two other outsiders, Ryuji Sakamoto and Ann Takamaki, both of whom harbor their own secrets. Despite their many differences, the three come together to take down their school’s horribly abusive gym teacher, Suguru Kamoshida, and they do it in a rather unusual fashion – thorough the “Metaverse.” (Oh, how prescient!) In the Metaverse, Kai (“Joker”), Ryuji (“Skull”), and Ann (“Panther”), take on alter-egos through which they harness the power of summons called personas. In this alternate universe, antagonists’ inner desires are manifested as physical representations of mind palaces. (Called Palaces in the game, the first one I played through was a castle, as the bad guy, Kamoshida, saw the school as his own castle, of which he was king.) As well, model weapons become real, and enemies lurk about as “shadows” to be defeated. The group also has a guide, Morgana (totally NOT a cat), who provides instruction, advice, and helps keep things on track, as much as “on track” might mean in a virtual world. Together, these “phantom thieves” work to make corrupt adults change their ways, thereby saving their friends and neighbors (and sure, the world) in the process.

This whole story was tough to witness.

I’m currently about twenty hours in to P5R, and my goodness, what a ride it has been already. I could write paragraphs upon paragraphs about what has happened, from Kai’s initial arrest, to the info he’s gathered about friends and acquaintances, to the slow reveal of Kamoshida’s brutal abuses (seriously, his story was one heck of a way to open a game!), it’s been one surprise after another. Thanks to my time with P3P, the game has many familiar undercurrents, so I at least have that to fall back on when things feel overwhelming. In calling back to that, when Kai’s not fighting shadows, he’s doing things a teenager would do, hanging out with friends, working part-time in a convenience store, watching movies.

Yeah it is!

On the “gaming” side of this game, everything Kai does has consequences; and for the most part, they are good ones. Forming relationships with others may reveal new personas to gather. “Normal” things like studying, working out, and cleaning up (Sojiro’s coffee shop, for example) can increase Kai’s personality stats. And, of course, he can go out into Tokyo’s wilds to purchase new gear or visit the Velvet Room, where he can train and learn more about/make new personas. It’s also in the Velvet Room where its overseer, Igor, speaks to Kai about his “rehabilitation.” I’m not sure that I understand the crux of Igor’s angle with this yet – is it literally about Kai’s criminal history or something else? – but I’m sure it’ll become clear eventually. Speaking of which, Kai’s own story is told through flashbacks from after his later arrest after the casino heist. Certain moments in the main game trigger these flashbacks (or maybe they’re flashfowards considering the timing of it all); they are fragmented but still interesting, nonetheless.

Well, no…but also, yes.

Though I’ve barely scratched P5R’s surface, at least I’ve started scratching. Over the course of the year (and then some, possibly!), I’ll pop in with occasional updates on my progress, and, like I did with P3P, I’m also going to keep track of my stats. I have a long way to go in Kai’s story, and I look forward to savoring the moments yet to come, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride, too!

Persona 5 Royal stats

Character: Kai Yasuda
Play time: 20 hours
Date (in game): May 24
Level: 15
Knowledge: Learned
Guts: Bold
Proficiency: Decent
Kindness: Considerate
Charm: Head-turning

Confidant ranks attained (listed by Arcana):
Fool – Rank 3 (Igor)
Magician – Rank 3 (Morgana)
Hierophant – Rank 2(Sojiro)
Lovers – Rank 3 (Ann)
Chariot – Rank 3 (Ryuji)
Strength – Rank 1 (Twin wardens)
Death – Rank 3 (Takemi)
Moon – Rank 4 (Mishima)
Councillor – Rank 2 (Maruki)

Current personas held:
Makami (Temperance) – Level 15
Ame-no-Uzume (Lovers) – Level 15
Jack Frost (Magician) – Level 12
Hua Po (Hanged) – Level 9
Apsaras (Priestess) – Level 11

All images, including lede, were taken by author during Xbox Series S gameplay of Persona 5 Royal Atlus).


  1. Hatm0nster says:

    Persona 5 Royal is a long one, but is a solid ride from start to finish! Have fun, Cary! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Thanks! This one’s going to be a long, slow burn, that’s for sure. It’s hooked me so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s yet to come!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Just like the title of this Virtual Bastion post says, I’m in it to win it now (err…eventually) with Persona 5 Royal!


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