Persona 5 Royal Nintendo Switch review - The portable thieves of hearts

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Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch

Years of begging, pleading, and hoping have come to an end. We now have Persona 5 on the Nintendo Switch (and literally every other platform, too). Not just Persona 5, but the Royal version, with all the trimmings.

Persona 5 is one of my absolute favourite games, and I highly recommend it to anyone for its meaningful story, fun friendships, and challenging gameplay. Seeing it come to more platforms, specifically the Switch, is something I never thought I’d see. What’s better than Persona 5? Playing it in bed or on the tube without needing a TV screen, that’s what.

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Despite Persona 5 being six years old, its popularity is greater than ever. It is the gift that keeps on giving, and with every new release finds a fresh audience of fans to welcome into the fold. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how it performs on the Nintendo Switch, and if it is worth the hefty price tag.

Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch

Table of Contents

Life will change

For those that somehow don’t know what the Persona series is, it’s a spin-off from Atlus’ historical Megami Tensei franchise, featuring monsters, friendships, and strange goings-on in every instance, that has flourished into its’ own giant IP. Persona 5 Royal is the most significant entry into the series so far, with re-releases, new editions, spin-off games and a sort of sequel. It was the game to put Atlus on the map in terms of worldwide recognition, and for good reason.

Persona’s story sees you as the protagonist getting the short end of the fate stick and being expelled for a crime you did not commit. Sent to Shujin Academy in the heart of Tokyo, you find yourself in even stranger circumstances than before, with a peculiar app appearing on your phone, and an entirely new dimension pulling you in. You soon realise that your purpose is not just to attend school, but to form a supernatural team known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts and fight back against the evil in this world. Though you attend school during the day, you’re in and out of the mysterious metaverse (not the Facebook one) fighting Shadows and collecting more Personas by night in the Palaces. These are the dungeons to work through to find every boss and locate their prized treasure, in order to steal it and change their warped hearts for the better.

These ‘Personas’ are a long-standing feature of Megami Tensei games, and most core titles share a roster of recognisable creatures. You’ll find them in the metaverse and engage them in battles, and negotiate with them to join your side. Each of your teammates has their own Persona too, from Lady Ann’s Carmen to Yusuke’s beastly Goemon, which represent their personality and have different elemental abilities.

Form deep friendships with those around you, beat bosses in their respective dungeons, and fill out your Persona-dex - but be careful, time is limited so use it wisely. The first iteration of Persona 5 sees your time span two semesters in school, with plenty of enemies to bring to justice and friends to meet along the way. The Royal edition adds a whole new semester, new characters, and a hefty story chapter.

Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch
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Prisoner of fate

In terms of gameplay and mechanics, there’s something for everyone in Persona 5. It’s almost part visual novel when you’re hanging out, chatting to friends, and investigating during school hours. But don’t forget - there's a constant need to think about how you want to use your time.

You can take on part-time jobs to earn money and upgrade different skills, explore romance options, and interact with confidants in the shape of your friendships and connections. You’ll want to build these up to gain skills to use in the Palaces, but it doesn’t stop there. You can visit the bathhouse, go shopping, do a crossword or hit the gym… the list is endless.

There are plenty of puzzles in the Palaces to keep you occupied, and each has different themes and challenges to figure out. Battles take the form of turn-based combat sprinkled throughout the dungeons, where working with other teammates and thinking about your next move really pays off.

Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch

You’ll never see it coming

Let’s get down to business. How does Persona 5 Royal run on the Nintendo Switch? I'm shocked to be typing this, but it actually runs really well.

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Persona 5 Strikers, a spin-off title developed with Koei Tecmo in 2020, was released on the Nintendo Switch but had some graphical and sound issues. Of course, some of these were due to recording issues caused by the pandemic, and therefore excusable, but some were unsure what this would mean for a Royal release. However, Persona 5 Royal has almost no issues at all, which is an absolute joy to see. Obviously, the graphics take a little hit, but this is barely noticeable. The game loads astonishingly quickly given the Switch’s track record and has no hang-ups or frame drops. I played it on a new OLED, so perhaps the Lite or older models may have some slight performance differences, but I assure you it’s nothing to worry about. The frame rate is capped at 20, but this wasn’t even something I thought about. My only gripe is that the thumbsticks can’t be used to control menus, only the arrow keys, but given I originally played on PlayStation, I can’t say this is an issue.

Now, this wouldn’t be a Persona review without mentioning the classic Atlus art style, voice actors, and amazing soundtrack. Seriously, Persona 5’s original soundtrack by Japanese artist Lyn is the best I’ve ever heard in a game, and I’m far from the only one with this opinion. The cast of actors is star-studded, with names like Matt Mercer and Max Mittelman delivering fantastic performances. These aspects truly make the game, and don’t take performance hits on the Switch. Not that they would, but I wanted to point them out again because they’re just so good.

Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch

For real?

Obviously, the graphics take a little hit, but this is barely noticeable. The game loads astonishingly quickly given the Switch’s track record and has no hang-ups or frame drops. I played it on a new OLED, so perhaps the Lite or older models may have some slight performance differences, but I assure you it’s nothing to worry about. The frame rate is capped at 20, but this wasn’t even something I thought about. My only gripe is that the thumbsticks can’t be used to control menus, only the arrow keys, but given I originally played on PlayStation, I can’t say this is an issue.

Now, this wouldn’t be a Persona review without mentioning the classic Atlus art style, voice actors, and amazing soundtrack. Seriously, Persona 5’s original soundtrack by Japanese artist Lyn is the best I’ve ever heard in a game, and I’m far from the only one with this opinion. The cast of actors is star-studded, with names like Matt Mercer and Max Mittelman delivering fantastic performances. These aspects truly make the game, and don’t take performance hits on the Switch. Not that they would, but I wanted to point them out again because they’re just so good.

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The Nintendo Switch has been given the full release of Persona 5 Royal, including all of the DLC previously released, along with the Royal content. But that’s not all. Eagle-eyed fans will notice a flashy new introduction, with a new song, to welcome us back to Shujin Academy and the Phantom Thieves.

Persona 5 Royal comes highly recommended to everyone, given you have some time on your hands, as it is not a short game. This isn't even a criticism - you’ll yearn for more even when you’re done with the 50-hour story and plentiful grinding or hang-out hours on top. You’ll get attached to your friends like feisty Ryuji and shy Haru, and want to spend all your time sipping coffee at the Leblanc café.

The full £55 price tag is hefty, but if you’re new to the franchise, it is a worthwhile investment for just how much this game gives, and that it runs very well on the Nintendo Switch. Now, wake up, get up, and get out there and change some hearts!

Persona 5 Royal
The Phantom Thieves are now portable with the Nintendo Switch release of Persona 5 Royal, and are ready for you to jump into another adventure in Tokyo’s morally unjust society.
Nintendo Switch