There is a certain song, one that PlayStation owners have known for a while. This song encapsulates entering into the Persona series without some basic understanding of the game. This song has lyrics that will never leave your head ‘you never see it coming. However my future Xbox Phantom Thieves, we here at the Robot Republic have all the information you will ever need to change the hearts of your foes. The Persona series is arguably one of the most popular, yet relatively unknown, JRPGs in recent memory. The first three games were relatively niche, but that all changed with Persona 4 and, of course, Persona 5. Now, for the longest time, they were firmly in the ‘exclusive’ bracket but all that is changing and we want to help. This guide will focus on Persona 5 Royal and will look at most of the factors that players need to know.
BECOMING A PHANTOM THIEF The Persona series has prided itself on working around a split system. What do I mean by this? Essentially the game comes in two parts. The first is a slice-of-life simulator where players will need to explore the city and develop their relationships. The second is the more combat-orientated dungeons where players will need to find and steal the treasure and put an end to the twisted whims of the palace’s keeper. For first-time players, it can all seem a bit overwhelming, especially with the addition of the timeline. The plot of the game takes place over roughly twelve months. The days are split into daytime and evening, and players will need to plot out what they are going to do in each. There is only time to do one thing in each unless entering the ‘Metaverse’ (more on that later) and will have to plot out how to progress. Now, there is one important aspect to know here and trust me it will change how you play. While you can do everything in one playthrough that isn’t the case. The reality is that the game is designed for multiple playthroughs. This is down to several factors, namely the relationships and the skills needed to complete them. The dungeon sequences are much simpler but require their share of preparation. Essentially player will have several days to reach the end of the dungeon and then steal the treasure. Combat in these sections is primarily turn-based but there are a few factors that limit how far the phantom thieves can reach in any one day.
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND CHARM PEOPLE First things first, how does the more social aspect work? Essentially players will have two slots to either expand their social stats or grow their relationships. The social stats are knowledge, guts, proficiency, kindness and charm. Growing these skills is imperative to progressing relationships with other characters. However, growing them can appear as a chore in the beginning. Here’s how it works, when doing certain events the player will be awarded points that add to the stat. Eventually, these stats will level up through several tiers. There are a few ways to get the stats up and each one has an attached activity that can help it grow. For instance, the player can take a bath to increase charm, or study to improve knowledge. Certain tasks improve several stats at once. The difficulty with stats is that there never seems to be enough time to level up and talk to people. This is where second playthroughs come in as the social stats transfer over thus giving players more time to build their relationships. I would recommend focusing on getting these stats up in the first playthrough over trying to get as many relationships as possible. Knowledge is arguably the easiest to raise quickly, especially as answering questions correctly while in class will help. A quick caveat, I don’t care how smart you are, look up the answers to the questions. It is very unlikely you will know the answers and you need to get them right. Outside of knowledge players can build proficiency by building thief tools in their room. The others are more difficult and require reading books, playing games or watching films to improve.
So you are busy reading all the books and seeing all the films, but what in the world are you meant to do with all these skills? The answer is simple, tousle your hair and go chat with everyone you meet. The people who build relationships with you are called confidants and they do a whole bunch of different things. There are two types of confidants, phantom thieves and civilians and each do something a little different. Phantom Thief confidants are your teammates in battles and are the ones to focus on in a first-time playthrough. For the most part, their progression is the same, at least in terms of what they do. They will eventually gain the ability to help you fight harder and offer to follow up attacks as well as remove status ailments. They will also eventually evolve their persona and gain new powers. Civilian confidants are people in the world who offer services and new skills. For instance, the back alley doctor and the gunsmith are both merchants so offer better deals. For a first-time playthrough, players need to focus on the merchants and any skill that improves teammates and levelling. There are skill-based confidants but those aren’t as important for a first-timer.
CAPTURE THE HEART, RIDE A TRAIN, DO IT ALL The castles are the second part of the game and the one with more to understand. Here’s a simple breakdown, the phantom thieves will pick a target and will have to beat that castle within a set time limit. There’s a fair bit to get through here so let's begin. The actual movement through the palaces is pretty simple, the player will need to keep to the shadows and progress slowly to make sure they are in a position to ambush their opponents. You can just blunder through but if the enemies, called shadows, spot you then the alarm meter will rise. If this meter reaches 100% then your party will be kicked out of the palace for the day. On the plus side, you can lower the alarm meter by successfully ambushing shadows. It is pretty easy to do and the shadows won’t see you in the cover so there’s no reason to not use it. There is another reason to use the ambush, and this has to do with how combat is initiated. Persona 5 doesn’t make use of random battles, instead, the shadows are walking around the map. If they do happen to chase you down then they can surround your party and have a free turn to attack. This can be a huge danger so avoid it to the best of your abilities. This is especially the case when dealing with the element system of the game.
Persona 5’s enemies all have their own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a creature that uses electricity is often weak to wind-based attacks. You can discover these traits in several ways, but the important part is knowing how to use these weaknesses to your advantage. Essentially, when you hit a weakness you can knock the creature down, do it to all enemies and you have a hold-up. Hold-ups allow you to do a few things. You can do a group attack for major damage, talk to the shadows and get money or have them join your team or give you some money. I have to mention that your party and your personas all have their own weaknesses. What do I mean when I say all your personas and ask shadows to join you? Essentially the player character can select from different personas during the battle, each with their skills and strengths. This lets you swap to deal with nearly any opponent. However, this is a double-edged sword as it also means you can have more weaknesses or underdeveloped personas. If I have any advice it is to avoid any personas that have a weakness to light and dark. If the main character dies the, the game is over, and those two elements have instant kill moves. You also have the equipment, both a melee and a gun weapon. In the original Persona five, your gun ran out of ammo and could no longer be used, but this is no longer the case. Guns have their place and their rate of fire and damage changes between each member of your party. They should be used as often as possible, but be warned, enemies can be weak to or immune to them as well.
TIPS, TRICKS AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN As I said, the main focus for relationships should be the other phantom thieves. However, players should also focus on the doctor to get some items that help to replenish SP in battle. The actual items to replace SP are limited so running out in the middle of a castle run can be a problem. There are three other characters that players need to complete, not for an in-game benefit but to reach the final season. Kasumi Yoshizawa and Takuto Maruki need to reach a certain level to see the final school term and reach the true ending of the game. You don’t have long to reach the right level with Takuto so make sure to push that confidant as much as possible. Mementos count deserve as a constant castle and arguably deserves a guide of their own. However, it is the location to find mini-bosses and can be adapted by using stamps found throughout to improve the exp and money gained in fights. It can also be affected by seasonal events and there are even a couple of secret mini-bosses here to find. Each of the palaces contains three items known as seeds. These seeds serve a couple of purposes, namely finding them recovers some SP, but they can also be adapted to become powerful items. It is pretty hard to miss these items, even if they are listed as ‘hidden’. If you see a glowing enemy try to take them out first. These special enemies will counter your attacks, but if you can take them down they’ll explode for massive damage against other foes. Not only that, but it is possible to get better items if you take them down. While travelling Mementos you may hear chains in the background. Do not hang around to find out what they are. The only option you have is to run, at least for now. Persona 5 is a big game, there’s a lot to see and a lot to do. This guide doesn’t contain everything you’ll discover, but hopefully, we have given you enough to become a successful thief. After all, this world needs to change.