So, a few months ago, around the time I finished with my plethora of Riftworld novellas, I saw that Persona 5 Royal was on sale on the Playstation store. I'd heard good things about it, and decided, eh, why not? ...after a quick check to make sure I didn't need to play the previous 4 in order to understand what's happening anyway. Luckily it's its own contained story, with a few vague connections that people who had played previous games could point and Captain America, "I got that reference" at. I also have no idea what the difference between Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal is, but I assume it's one of those paper Burger King crowns.
Aaaaaaanyway, I loved it. It's one part Jrpg dungeon exploration. One part visual novel. And one part dating sim (not the creepy kind, I'll explain on that later) It is an epicly loooooooong game. I finished it with just over 126 hours of gameplay. And for $25 that's a lot of bang for my buck. It literally took me months to finish it with a few hours here and a few hours there.
You play as a guy who tried to do the right thing, but ended up doing it against a powerful politician who basically wrecked his entire life, getting him thrown out of his home and school, and placed on probation with prison time waiting for him if he screwed up again for it. He goes to live in a foster home and soon finds that he has been granted the ability to enter the hearts of those who have been twisted by their desires to force them to confess all of their crimes. As the story progresses he picks up quite a few allies and supporters until it all comes to a pretty crazy epic conclusion.
The story is a bit on the weird and convoluted side, but where it really shines is with an amazing cast of characters. I probably wouldn't have stuck through the game to the end if not for the characters. They're all really entertaining and well fleshed out. Each of your party members has their own story that unfolds slowly throughout the game by spending time with them (hence the dating sim aspect) as you progress through each character's story, you're given dialog options that give you different amounts relationship points as you'd get with a dating sim, but this is less dating, and more getting to know your friends. It's just very similar to a dating sim in that regard. There are also a bunch of side characters with stories that you can build bonds with. As the levels of your bonds go up, you gain access to more and more powerful support abilities, so spending time with the people around you makes you stronger in the dungeon exploration and boss fight parts of the game.
There are also long stretches of story cutscenes that are presented in visual novel format. My brother found it a bit tedious, but I loved it. The three aspects of the game blend together into a very fun and entertaining game with a pretty good story, amazing characters, and fun gameplay. The game also has a very distinct visual style. It practically bleeds style. It's very visually interesting to look at. People can gush all they want about photorealistic graphics all they want, but I'll take something that is visually unique and interesting to look at over realistic any day of the week.
There's only two small things I didn't really like so much about the game. The first is that the music is kind of meh. There are one or two memorable tracks. The final boss music being really, really awesome. But for the most part it's just kind of generic elevator music. And the second is that it does that silent protagonist thing, where you choose dialog options, but the character never actually speaks. I've always hated that. I know it's supposed to make you feel like you're more a part of the story, but for me it does the exact opposite. Would it kill them to have the character say whichever dialog option you choose aloud, like in, say, a Mass Effect game?
Anyway, I really, really liked the game. I had a lot of fun with it. There are a few parts where the story drags a bit, but it's held up by the great characters and their interactions with each other. I thought the three different gameplay types blended together pretty well with the story and characters, and the visual style, to make a game that was truly unique and definitely worth the time to play. (also it's on sale again right now on the playstation store as part of the Black Friday Sale, so, pick it up if you've some extra cash and 126 free hours.)