The first Persona 5 came out in 2016 to critical acclaim. Unlike Persona 4, I think Persona 5 managed to shoot the franchise into the upper echelon of Japanese role playing games alongside the likes of Final Fantasy, Pokemon and Dragon Quest. Notwithstanding its success, the developers of the Persona series Atlus love to recreate their games with new additions or in completely different genres. That’s why like Persona 4, Persona 5 has things like its Royal addition, Dancing In Starlight edition, Strikers (its Dynasty Warriors edition) and Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (its chibi edition).
If you are here, you are probably thinking which one should I get or which one should I play first. If you have played the original Persona 5 from start to finish, you have the freedom to play either Royal or Strikers. If you have never played Persona 5, then you ought to play Persona 5 Royal first to get to know the story otherwise Strikers isn’t going to be as fulfilling a journey for you since the story in Strikers is more of a conclusion or epilogue than anything else.
Interestingly, the story of Persona 5 Strikers does not follow the story of Persona 5 Royal, rather it follows the story of the original Persona 5. So all the additional stories and characters that were added to Persona 5 Royal are not introduced or continued in Persona 5 Strikers. Persona 5 Strikers almost treats the entire Persona 5 Royal as an alternate universe, e.g. Kasumi doesn’t exist in Persona 5 Strikers. (Who knows if Atlus eventually release a game called Persona 5 Strikers Royal. It is not impossible.)
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is a directors cut of the original Persona 5. It introduces new quality of life changes from new character portraits, enemies, locations, personas and gameplay changes, such as ammo restocks after each battle and the introduction of Will Seeds in Palaces. It also introduces two key characters to the story, one is a playable character in Kasumi and the other plays an integral part to the expanded narrative.
On the whole, Persona 5 Royal is very much the same game as the original Persona 5. The role playing game mechanics are here, the story beats are mostly the same, the character progression is mostly the same and the music and stages are mostly the same. It’s everything with a few tweaks here and there and a whole bunch of extra content thrown in. Persona 5 Royal makes most of the Palace bosses slightly harder with new phases to deal with and also removes numerous vulnerabilities for enemies such as their vulnerability to certain status effects, including the Reaper (who is now immune to despair, so you have to fight him properly in this iteration).
I feel the gameplay is much slower in Persona 5 Royal as role playing games are turn based affairs. It can be frustrating not being able to dodge attacks or rather relying on lady luck to intervene to save your characters. I can’t fault it too much, since I do enjoy tactical games and love being able to take the time to plan my order of operations.
All in all, Persona 5 Royal is a lot of fun. It’s a complete retelling of the Persona 5 story with a lot of improvements. It’s like playing the original game, but with lots more cool bells and whistles, quality of life changes, and a longer story.
Persona 5 Strikers
Persona 5 Strikers is definitely a Dynasty Warriors-like game, but it takes on so many more cues from the Persona games. (The music is not Dynasty Warriors, it is definitely Persona music. So you won’t get Lu Bu’s theme playing while you take on enemies.) While you could employ the Dynasty Warriors button mashing in this game, you will find yourself at the mercy of your enemies very quickly. The enemies will hit hard if you are blindly attacking without using the dodge mechanic, switching characters, or activating field prompts. After the prologue, you can control any of the Phantom Thieves in battle. Each character has their own elemental affinities and actions so you will learn which one you prefer to play as.
Unlike Persona 5 Royal, the enemies that appear in each engagement are numerous in Persona 5 Strikers, they can fill up an entire room. There will be a mix of minor enemies and a boss that you need to take down. I think in Persona 5 Strikers that the fights feel more authentic and fast paced since many of the battles take place in the same field environment and you have genuine control over your characters actions and most battles, particularly minor battles, take seconds to complete.
Unlike Persona 5 Royal, you can actually travel to previous Jails and you visit places outside Tokyo, including Sendai, Sapporo, Okinawa, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, etc. So the feeling of missing out on things is less of an issue. The only thing you can miss out are the Requests and certain Items that can be obtained in certain cities since you will be moving from city to city in Persona 5 Strikers as the story progresses.
The story in Persona 5 Strikers is almost like a farewell tour for the Phantom Thieves. Their unique abilities to combat metaphysical threats are called upon again due to the reintroduction of the Metaverse and Jails (instead of Palaces). The story is interesting, but I feel the character development is almost absent and any real tension is lost, since most of key development happened in the original Persona 5 and this story felt much shorter. (Though the only character that managed to improve from the first Persona game was Haru, since she became a bit more badass in this game.)
Unlike Persona 5 Royal, I found the Platinum Trophy for Persona 5 Strikers to be quite daunting and time consuming. The last trophy for most people will be maxing all the Bond Skills, which requires reaching Level 99 Bond Level. If you are aiming for the Platinum Trophy, I recommend completing the post main game content and then playing on Merciless Difficulty until you get to Snake King in the Sendai Jail.
Which one is better: Persona 5 Royal or Persona 5 Strikers?
Despite the faster pace in Persona 5 Strikers and being able to smash enemies really quickly, I still preferred the slower and more story oriented Persona 5 Royal. Persona 5 Royal’s story is definitely the better one of the two. While it is nice to see the characters again after the events of the Persona 5 during their summer holiday adventure in Persona 5 Strikers, the characters’ development and the bad guys in Persona 5 Royal are more interesting to follow.
While it seems like I am saying gameplay in Persona 5 Strikers is good and story is better in Persona 5 Royal. On the whole spectrum, I think you will get a lot more value even from a gameplay perspective by picking up Persona 5 Royal. Persona 5 Royal introduces so more locations, the gameplay is much more expansive and varied (Persona 5 Strikers doesn’t deviate much from its button mashing), and you get much more bang for your buck. Persona 5 Strikers is more of a game that you can play mindlessly and like I mentioned, the story is alright but Persona 5 Royal does it better.
So, in most cases I would choose Persona 5 Royal. (However, I can understand people preferring Persona 5 Strikers since you are less likely going to need to consult a walkthrough to complete the game.)
Oddly, Persona 5 Strikers is available on both Steam and Nintendo Switch, while Persona 5 Royal is only available on the PlayStation. With Persona 5 Strikers’ story referencing so much of the original Persona 5, it is such an odd decision not to introduce the original Persona 5 to these platforms. I hope it does arrive on these platforms one day.
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