What Does it Mean to Stay on the Path of Justice?
When I heard Persona 5 Royal was coming out, I couldn’t wait to watch the new trailers for this extended remake of the original Persona 5. And for the record, I’m a huge fan of Persona 5. After logging over 100 hours into the game, I grew attached to the Phantom Thieves, as if I was one of them, infiltrating palaces to steal the distorted desires of rotten adults.
There’s still one question lingering on everyone’s mind, “Are the Phantom Thieves Just?”. Their first target was Kamoshida, a perverted high school coach who physically abused students on the volleyball team, driving one girl into attempting suicide. It felt personal because the victims included Joker’s friends, Ryuji and Ann, who were mislabeled by the other students.
Since Joker was treated like a delinquent over a crime he didn’t commit, he had every reason to distrust adults and the social order imposed upon him where the rich and powerful acted as if they were above the law. Subsequent palace owners were equally corrupt and devoid of morals, preying on the vulnerable who could not defend themselves or exploiting them for the sake of profit.
When the police can’t do anything, it makes sense that vigilantes would take matters into their own hands and use their newfound powers to change the hearts of evil adults, getting them to confess their crimes in public. It wasn’t hard to sympathize with the Phantom Thieves when they managed to stop criminals hiding in plain sight, those that couldn’t be exposed in a court of law due to a lack of evidence.
Do Heroes Deserve Public Recognition for Their Good Deeds?
Unsurprisingly, the police and media regarded the Phantom Thieves as dangerous criminals who could manipulate the hearts of people, blaming them for the mental shutdowns and psychotic breakdowns that were carried out by Shido and his associates. I always thought that Akechi’s opposition to the thieves’ actions was incredibly hypocritical when he acted as Shido’s hitman, using his persona to drive shadows insane or straight up kill anyone involved in the conspiracy.
The worst part is, the Phantom Thieves have no way to prove their innocence without revealing their true identities. Although their methods are risky–stealing the treasure of palace holders, altering their personalities after the fact, they have never killed anyone, no matter how disgusting those people turn out to be. After all, the thieves are just high school kids who tried to reform society for the greater good. I guess “no good deed goes unpunished” is a true statement after all.
They oppose the death sentence and believe that as a fitting punishment, every villain should be allowed to atone for their sins. To tell you the truth, they are no different than the iconic superheroes of Marvel and DC comics. They appear to be your average high school students but transform into rebellious thieves to fight shadows that reside in the cognitive world. It’s all fun and games until someone gets killed, quickly shifting public perception against them.
I mean, the Phantom Thieves can’t afford to sit by and do nothing because then the corrupt elites will rule society according to their vision. So these youths have no choice but to fight back the only way they can, and that’s through the Metaverse. Sure the general populace may not agree with everything they did, nonetheless, the changes of heart gave many victims the courage to move on, in spite of society’s indifference towards their struggles.
What Persona 5 Royal Brings to the Table
Considering how Persona 5 was one of the best-selling JRPGs of the year, I’m not surprised that Atlus is giving it the “Golden” treatment by releasing an enhanced version, featuring two new characters: Kasumi Yoshizawa, an aspiring gymnastics student, and Dr. Maruki, the school counselor of Shujin Academy. Akechi’s confidant was rehashed to show his rivalry with Joker instead of being based on his encounters with the whole group.
I’m curious to see how they will interact with the Phantom Thieves, either as supporters or detractors of their cause, two new confidants for Joker to rank up, with unique abilities to help strengthen his personas when fighting shadows in the Metaverse and depths of Mementos. They’re also showing footage of Showtime attacks where the thieves partner up to perform a deadly finishing move, turning a shadow back into cognition.
After watching some leaked gameplay of the Japanese Persona 5 Royal, I can’t deny that the Phantom Thieves are stylish as ever, with new character models and expressions added during cutscenes, more hangout spots like the aquarium, minigames like Darts and Billards, Will Seeds to collect in palaces, and the best of all, a Thieves den called “My Palace” for showing off your achievement trophies.
What Can I Say? Not All Heroes Wear Capes
I’ve already seen the English promo for Persona 5 Royal and I gotta say, they really nailed the voice acting on the Phantom Thieves, especially Akechi when he summons Loki in his black-mask outfit. Even Haru is getting the screentime she truly deserves by playing a bigger role in the main story. I just wish Morgana wouldn’t force the player to go to bed every time they finish their dungeon-crawling escapade.
As for whether I plan to get Persona 5 Royal, probably not. This game is already bloated enough with a hundred hours worth of story events and dungeon crawling befitting of an RPG title. I’m not criticizing it, but by reaching the end of the main campaign, the rest is just DLC in my book. I don’t think I can handle another New Game Plus run even if I did unlock an alternative ending.
That being said, I do recommend Royal to anyone who hasn’t played the original since they will get to experience the extra content it has to offer without having to do multiple playthroughs to unlock all the personas or romance a love interest you missed the first time around. And for those who desire a real challenge, they can always fight the Twin wardens using their high-level personas on merciless difficulty.