Persona 5 Royal: Mind Games and More Palaces

After completing Persona 5 Royal’s first palace, Kamoshida’s Castle, I had no idea just how the game could or would top it. Not only was Kamoshida’s whole story somewhat shocking, but his castle was so utterly twisted that I couldn’t imagine how subsequent palaces could be any more perverse. And yet, they did. I’m not saying that understand where the game is going fully, but I’m certainly on the receiving end of some “seven deadly sins” vibes. If that’s the case, I’ve not quite reached the half-way point, with now three palaces becoming history. If it’s not the case, well, I cannot wait to see how the game proves me wrong!

The twins just telling it like it is.

When we last left protagonist Kai Yasuda, his Shujin Academy friends, Ryuji and Ann, and palace/shadows expert Morgana (who is still NOT a cat), they had formally dubbed themselves the “Phantom Thieves of Hearts” and feasted upon a grand buffet to celebrate their recent accomplishments. Their journey was far from over, however, because they had to figure out what to do next. It turned out that one of their classmates, Mishima Yuuki, a rather timid and odd fellow who had been on the short end of their former gym teacher’s abuses, had something an answer. Through the power of the Internet, he would help the thieves not only gain approval (and become famous) but also locate individuals in need of changes of heart. The gang would help these people via Mementoes – essentially a general public palace, a space that encompassed a collective consciousness rather than that of a single person. So, in addition to everything else on Kai’s plate, he could then also travel into Mementoes to help folks, gain XP and goodies, and hone his skills further.

Helping lost souls, even friends, find their way back through Mementoes.

Yep, Kai sure has been busy! And I’m sure it’s no help when his sleep is interrupted by Igor in the Velvet Room, who, along with the strange twins Caroline and Justine, is more than happy to foist upon Kai the weight of the world…or at least that’s how it feels. Honestly, his life makes me tired! But I’ve been doing my best to try to maintain some sort of balance – if that’s even a thing that needs doing – between being a satisfactory student, a decent human being, and a phantom thief. The game hasn’t told me that I‘ve been doing anything wrong, and I doubt it will, but there have been moments when I’ve not been sure if Kai’s made the right call. One thing I’m still unsure of is tones within conversations, which is when I feel most like I’m making “bad” choices. Without tone indicators (yes, I’m looking at you, BioWare, for ruining me), I’ve no clue if a response is meant to nice, sarcastic, or mean. As I said, maybe this doesn’t matter in the end, but it is one thing that leave me feeling a little unsettled at times.

Dude, you don’t know the half of it!

As much as Kai’s surroundings and social life have expanded, so too have the Phantom Thieves. Students Yusuke Kitagawa (“Fox”), a burgeoning artist, and Makoto Niijima (“Queen”), class president, have joined the ranks. Yusuke’s story unfolded in conjunction with the second palace the thieves faced, Madarame’s Museum. This fanatical and fantastical space from the mind of famed “artist” Ichiryusai Madarame was as amazing to explore as it was off-putting. Serving as foster father and mentor to Yusuke, it was difficult to watch Yusuke’s reactions as Madarame’s true nature was exposed. That he was a fraud, had been stealing works from his students as passing them off as his own, and conceived his greatest “work” out of Yusuke’s pain. In defeating Madarame, Yusuke lost his muse and way with art; his future, it seems, lies in Kai helping him find his way back. As much as I’ve enjoyed Ryuji’s spiritedness and Ann’s ebullience, Yusuke is so far my favorite of Kai’s friends. He’s been truly genuine, caring, and I very much want to see him become an artist. I hope that’s how things turn out, but this game has thrown its share of curve balls.

It’s a swirling vortex of art, right?

Meanwhile, Kai’s not yet spent much time with the group’s newest member, Makoto; but what a backstory she had. She appeared early in the game during the Kamoshida episode simply as the school’s student council president, though also not so simply as an informant to the school’s principal concerning the Phantom Thieves. Her world was full of repression and high expectations, living in the somewhat tortuous shadow of her guardian, older sister and public prosecutor Sae Niijima. Initially suspicious the Phantom Thieves, Makoto came to see their work as just. Her status, however, made her a target for ridicule. No longer wanting to wear the mantle of an outcast, she made a wild attempt to gain their favor, and break all of her own rules, by putting herself in the sights of mafia boss, Junya Kaneshiro. This results in Kaneshiro blackmailing the group and Makoto determine to set things right via his palace, and enormously gaudy bank. It’s there that her persona awakened, and she was finally welcomed as a Phantom Thief. With Kaneshiro’s defeat, I remain unsure what to make of her outside of being the “new girl” who wants to break free from a formerly repressed life. Still, it should be interesting to see how the rest of her story develops.

You know how it goes – class president one day, bloodthirsty seeker of justice the next.

With another 20 hours of P5R done and gone, I know I still haven’t reached very far into the game’s depths. Kai’s personality is changing ever so slowly for the better, or at least that’s what I think is happening as his stats increase. Sae’s continued interrogation of him in the present day(?) still leaves room for so many questions, so many possible scenarios that it’s hard to know what might be next for Kai. The impatient part of me really wants to read the last page of the book, so to speak, but I don’t think that would do any good, as it seems like his story is in the process of being written. Well, with two more palaces done and wonder in the air about what to do next, it looks like it’s time for the gang to focus on just being “normal” for a little bit. I think I can handle that.

Persona 5 Royal stats:

Character: Kai Yasuda
Play time: 42 hours
Date (in game): July 10
Level: 29
Knowledge: Learned
Guts: Bold
Proficiency: Skilled
Kindness: Considerate
Charm: Head-turning

Confidant ranks attained (listed by Arcana):
Fool – Rank 5 (Igor)
Magician – Rank 4 (Morgana)
Priestess – Rank 2 (Makoto)
Emperor – Rank 2 (Yusuke)
Hierophant – Rank 4 (Sojiro)
Lovers – Rank 3 (Ann)
Chariot – Rank 7 (Ryuji)
Justice – Rank 2 – (Akechi)
Strength – Rank 1 (Twin Wardens)
Death – Rank 5 (Takemi)
Devil – Rank 2 (Ichiko)
Moon – Rank 6 (Mishima)
Sun – Rank 1 (Man of the People)
Judgement – Rank 1 (Prosecutor)
Faith – Rank 2 (Kasumi)
Councillor – Rank 2 (Maruki)

Current personas held:
Kaguya Picaro (Moon) – Level 28
Sui-Ki (Moon) – Level 27
Rakahasa (Strength) – Level 24
Andras (Devil) – Level 27

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


  1. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Recent times in Persona 5 Royal spawned some pretty wild adventures in a couple more wild palaces. And hey, our protagonist is getting to know so many more people, too! See the rundown of where I’m at in P5R here in Virtual Bastion.


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