Persona 5 Royal (Switch) Review – Colors Flying High

Persona 5 Royal was one of the best, most immaculately put together, most perfectly designed video games ever made when it launched in 2020 on the PS4. An enhanced, greatly expanded edition of an already celebrated game, Persona 5 Royal essentially took everything that was great about the original Persona 5, made it better, added more on top, executed the new stuff to perfection on the first go, and also fixed the litany of flaws and frustrations that the original Persona 5 had had in 2017, which had held it back from the true greatness that the game was always destined for. It’s no wonder that Persona 5 Royal ended up as, very literally, one of the highest rated games of all time, and only further added to the popularity of a game that has become practically synonymous with JRPGs as the years have gone on.

[embedded content]

Now that Persona 5 Royal is finally available on all other systems, that core brilliance and the overall package that represents an entire genre at its very peak is accessible to an even broader audience. And that audience is truly in for a treat – there’s a reason Persona 5 Royal is as celebrated as it is, and that’s because it does almost everything that it sets out to do to near perfection. And the great news is, everything that was great about Persona 5 Royal (and Persona 5) has made it over to the Switch, Steam, Xbox, and PS5 versions of the game as is.

So whether it’s the battle system, which probably represents the ultimate form a turn based battle system can take, with its incredible QoL and speed, and dynamism and interlinking mechanics that make it so quick not might as well be real time, or the incredible social simulation; whether it’s the fantastically designed dungeons, or the amazing boss battles; whether it’s the excellent demon negotiations where you try to recruit Shadows to fight for you or the incredible whether its the overwhelming sense of style dripping in everything you set out to do; whether it’s the game’s incredible soundtrack to its stunning UI, from its gorgeous art style to its core themes about rebelling against the stagnation of a society that is more interested in upholding the status quo than anything else, all of those things that made Persona 5 Royal one of the best games ever made? They’re all here, as is.

Persona 5 Royal_06

“This is pretty much the exact same game the PS4 got all those years ago. There are no concessions, no omissions, no real changes. Anyone buying into it now gets the same brilliant experience that launched on the PS4 in 2020.”

These new versions of Persona 5 Royal are pretty much identical to the version that launched on the PS4 a couple of years ago. In terms of content, the only difference is that the DLC packs that had to be purchased separately on PS4 come bundled with the game now. Other than that, there really isn’t much that is different. On the Xbox Series, PS5, and Steam versions of the game, the game supports 60FPS, which is a great option to haven for those who care about it, but ultimately little more than window dressing when it comes to a turn based RPG. On the Switch, the game obviously supports portable play (which has been the core appeal for why people have been asking for Persona on Switch for so long, given that the franchise first got popular in the west on portable systems to begin with). But other than that, this is pretty much the exact same game the PS4 got all those years ago. There are no concessions, no omissions, no real changes. Anyone buying into it now gets the same brilliant experience that launched on the PS4 in 2020.

It helps that the port quality is great as well. This was always a given – Persona 5 is, at its core, a PS3 game. Remember, the game was originally designed for PS3, it was supposed to launch as a PS3 exclusive, and the PS4 version only got added to it very late in its development cycle. There was never really any doubt it would be able to be ported to any system, Switch included – even on the PS3, this was never a particularly taxing game, with Persona 5 achieving its stellar and stunning presentation not through the use of cutting edge tech but just an incredible sense of style, and knowing how to use its singular aesthetic to divert the player’s attention from the relatively rudimentary tech it otherwise employs.

As a result, it makes sense that the game makes it over to Switch with so little in the way of concessions. While Persona 5 Royal is absolutely not running at native resolution on Switch in either portable or docked modes, leading to a softer looking image than the PS4 version had, that’s about the only real difference you can glean between the two versions. Other than that, there are very literally no downgrades. The frame rate holds at a rock sold 30fps throughout, with zero dips or stutters, the loading times are pretty much identical to the PS4 version, the transitions are as slick and stylish as they were on PS4, sound quality appears to be on par, and that’s pretty much it. 

Persona 5 Royal_03

“Those who may be concerned about the resolution or performance really don’t need to worry – on both fronts, Persona 5 Royal on Switch holds up significantly better than Shin Megami Tensei V and Persona 5 Strikers. While Persona 5 Royal is absolutely not running at native resolution on Switch in either portable or docked modes, leading to a softer looking image than the PS4 version had, that’s about the only real difference you can glean between the two versions.”

Those who may be concerned about the resolution or performance really don’t need to worry – on both fronts, Persona 5 Royal on Switch holds up significantly better than Shin Megami Tensei V (which launched last year on the Switch exclusively, and pushed the system to breaking point with how ambitious it was) and Persona 5 Strikers (which is a far more technically intensive game than Royal is, and which definitely suffered in the transition to Nintendo’s lower powered hybrid). While it goes without saying that the other versions of the game are better than the Switch one when it comes to those considerations, this is one of those games where it really doesn’t matter as much. As mentioned already, Persona 5 was never a technical showcase, and even the PS4 version is very obviously a mid-budget game with some obvious cut corners when it comes to the tech, all of which are covered up for by the art style and aesthetic. That ends up being the case on Switch too.  It also helps that the Switch’s OLED screen makes the game look stunning, with the colors popping off the screen and making its singular and striking sense of aesthetic stand out even more. Seriously, just watching the games now iconic Colors Flying High intro movie play out on the Switch OLED screen is a thing of beauty, and it sets the standard for what we can expect from the rest of the game to come.

It is also good to see that the sound sampling quality does not suffer as much in the transition to Switch. Persona 5 has arguably the greatest soundtrack any video game has ever mustered – so if it was going to take a hit in the transition to Switch, that would, frankly, have sucked. Thankfully, the sound quality appears be very near to the PS4 version of the game, so once again, those who are choosing o play it on the Switch have nothing to fear (except for slightly lower volume when using the Switch’s built-in speakers – though with a game like this, you should be using headphones anyway to never miss the music). 

So yes, we are looking at a great port here. The lower resolution is pretty much the only big difference between this version of the game and the original, and even that doesn’t really matter as much when it comes to a title like this one. What we are left with, then, is a game that makes it over to the Switch almost perfectly, bringing over its incredible, perfect rendition of its gameplay to the platform as-is – a platform that just so happens to be fantastically well suited to what the game is. Persona 5 can almost feel like a novel you are reading, or an anime series you are binging. You want to be able to do it in bed before you go to sleep, or on the bus. You want the freedom to be able to put 5-10 minutes into it at a time, or lose yourself in it for hours on end. The game’s structure, which divides gameplay into neat, discrete chunks of time, each with a clearly defined objective and immediate feedback for engaging with it, feels like it was tailor made for a portable system like the Switch to begin with as well. Persona 5 Royal almost feels more at home on Switch than it did on the platform it was made for to begin with. Given how perfectly Persona 5 lends itself to portable play, putting up with a slightly softer image is easier than ever to deal with, for the opportunity to be able to play this game in bed or on the go, which the structure and format of the series is singularly well suited to. 

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 Royal’s theme song, Colors Flying High, ends with the phrase “green or blue, red or white, you can’t lose with your colors flying high.” And so it is. Whether you play it on Xbox or PlayStation, Switch or PC, Persona 5 Royal is an utter masterpiece, and you’re in for one of the best games ever made no matter how you choose to play it.”

The high quality of this port, as well as the underlying brilliance of P5R (which has only continued to grow as time has gone on) honestly makes the long wait for this port feel almost worth it. There may not be any game in history that was as requested for platforms other than the one that it launched on as Persona 5. The last few years have been a veritable onslaught of people asking, requesting, demanding, begging, for Atlus and P-Studio to bring the game over to Switch and Steam, and in the last few years, even Xbox. And to be fair, you get the fascination with the fixation on ports for this game – here is a game that is legitimately one of the highest rated, most celebrated titles of all time. It’s a third party game, under no exclusivity arrangements or obligations. It’s a mid-budget title designed for almost 20 year old tech, meaning absolutely all machines on the market at the moment are capable of running it. And JRPGs are increasingly popular again in the last few years, in no small part thanks to Persona 5 itself, but also because of how much systems such as Steam and Switch have cultivated a massive audience for the genre – an audience that, by remaining PS4 exclusive, Persona 5 was continuing to avoid until now.

So, the announcement, and now the release, of these Persona 5 Royal ports is a very big deal. The highest rated JRPG of all time, one of the bestselling JRPGs, and one of the most celebrated games ever, is finally available to an even broader audience. The core underlying brilliance of Persona 5 is now accessible to even more people. And yes, that core brilliance is still here – in fact, there is an argument to be made that Persona 5 Royal is one of those rare games that achieves the impossible feat of somehow getting better as time goes on. So masterfully put together is it, its design so impeccable perfect, its themes so profoundly resonant with each passing day, that the game manages to hit even harder now than it ever has before – in spite of the now over half decade between Persona 5’s original release, and the launch of these ports, or the multiple playthroughs of this 100+ hour long game that I have already put in. The minute I booted up Persona 5 Royal, it felt like being back home. I effortlessly slid back into its rhythms and its massive and sprawling web of interconnected systems, losing hours of my life to it until my Switch battery was dead and I looked up to realize that it was the dead of the night and I’d just lost hours of my life to it all over again.

In 2020, when Persona 5 Royal first launched, I called it a perfect title, and one that is at the top of its game on literally every single front that it attempts to engage with. By addressing the vanilla game’s shortcomings, and delivering a bunch of additions and changes that elevate the quality of an already sublime experience even further, Persona 5 Royal ended up becoming a game that is just about perfect – there are no flaws that bog the experience, or if there are, they are so minuscule that they don’t even register as you are playing the game. It ended up being a genre- and generation-defining experience, as the continued ascendance of its legend in the years since can attest to. Now, that very same experience is available in a definitive format on a system that feels like it was made for that game to begin with. You very literally could not go wrong with this combination if you tried. 

Honestly, you couldn’t go wrong with Persona 5 Royal on any platform. The game itself laid down the gauntlet, actually. Persona 5 Royal’s theme song, Colors Flying High, ends with the phrase “green or blue, red or white, you can’t lose with your colors flying high.” And so it is. Whether you play it on Xbox or PlayStation, Switch or PC, Persona 5 Royal is an utter masterpiece, and you’re in for one of the best games ever made no matter how you choose to play it.

This game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.


Comments are closed.