I’m loving Persona 5 Royal on Switch — even after playing the original for 100 hours

A picture of Persona 5 Royal running in handheld mode on the Switch
(Image credit: Future)

While I missed out on Persona 5 when the game first released, I finally got around to playing it earlier this year on the PS4. However, at the time, I chose to play the original game instead of Persona 5 Royal, as it was significantly cheaper and slightly shorter since it lacks the new content added in the updated version.

As a big JRPG fan, Persona 5 was one of the reasons I decided to purchase a PS4 Pro in the first place. However, with the release of Persona 5 Royal for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S and PC, the game is no longer a PlayStation exclusive. 

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As I had played and enjoyed the original game, I recently volunteered to review the updated version for Tom’s Guide on the Nintendo Switch. Even though my Persona 5 Royal review is now finished, I just can’t stop playing the game. In fact, I plan to spend my weekend boosting my social stats and trying to infiltrate a few Palaces I didn’t have time to finish. Maybe it’s the quality of life improvements or how I can play Persona 5 Royal in handheld mode, but either way, I think it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch games and I wish Atlus would have brought the game to Nintendo’s hybrid console even sooner instead of going all in on Shin Megami Tensei V.

A familiar, yet novel experience

Playing Persona 5 Royal after finishing Persona 5 is a lot like revisiting an old neighborhood where you used to live. Sure, there are some familiar buildings and landmarks but a lot of businesses have changed ownership and there are likely a few improvements as well.

persona 5 royal

(Image credit: Atlus)

When I first booted up the game, I was immediately taken aback by Persona 5 Royal’s new title sequence, which is much more action-packed than Persona 5’s more playful intro. The differences between the beginning of both games didn’t stop there though, as I was able to use the new grappling hook during the game’s introduction; a scene had been added that introduced me to one of the new characters right off the bat.

Once the game’s intro ended and I moved into my new accommodation above Cafe Leblanc, it felt like I was treading familiar ground once again. However, the new animations, menus and other quality of life improvements had me glued to the screen despite the fact that this was a game I had recently finished.

Persona 5 Royal gameplay

(Image credit: Atlus)

Of the new additions, I really enjoyed how all of the confidants in Persona 5 Royal call you up on the phone after spending time with them. This feels a lot like a friend checking to make sure you got home safe after a night out. The way you can see each character talking next to their dialogue certainly helped me feel more connected to them. 

No more early nights

Besides engaging in turn-based battles in the Metaverse (no, not that one), improving your social stats is a huge part of Persona 5 Royal. You boost your knowledge, guts, proficiency, kindness and charm by doing various activities like reading books, making infiltration tools and taking care of your plant. Even leveling up your characters after a big battle doesn’t feel quite as good as seeing one of your social stats increase.

While you can engage in activities throughout the day to raise your social stats, some require you to go to certain places around Tokyo at night. There’s already far too much to do in the game, and the amount of time you have each day after attending school is limited. 

A screenshot of Persona 5 Royal showing Joker talking with Morgana

(Image credit: Atlus)

Early on, a character from the Metaverse named Morgana comes to live with you in the real world after taking the form of a cat (yes, it’s kind of a strange game). While it’s great to have his company at night, Morgana often tells you to go to bed instead of leaving the house at night, especially after a long day. This can be really annoying when you’re really close to leveling up a social stat.

When developing Persona 5 Royal, Atlus took this into consideration and decided to dial back just how often Morgan tells you to go to sleep. Although this is the kind of change that first-time players might not even notice, it has made a huge difference in my playthrough of Persona 5 Royal so far. Now instead of being forced off to bed, I spend my evenings reading, watching TV or even making coffee to get a jump on improving my social stats.

Screenshots galore

After playing through Persona 4 Golden on PC last year, I was incredibly surprised to learn that I was unable to take screenshots while playing Persona 5 on PS4. Like some other JRPGs, Persona games are released in Japan first before being made available in other countries. Since there is a heavy focus on Persona 5’s story, its developer Atlus made the decision early on to disable the ability to capture screenshots or videos to prevent people from spoiling the game.

A screenshot of Morgana from Persona 5 Royal

(Image credit: Atlus)

While some people hoped that this feature would eventually be turned on, it never was – even to this day. However, since Persona 5 Royal is an upgraded version of the original game, Atlus now lets you take screenshots and videos all the way up until you begin the new third semester.  

A screenshot of the screenshot gallery on the Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Nintendo)

I don’t know about you, but I love taking screenshots while playing games. Not only can I share them with friends who might be on the fence about trying a game, I can also go back and look over them to see what I played. While playing Persona 5 Royal, I’ve kept my thumb on the Switch’s screenshot button during every cutscene but also when listening to dialogue between the game’s characters. Capturing a funny moment or line of dialogue is very rewarding for me and being able to take screenshots this time around is one of the main reasons I’m still playing Persona 5 Royal.

Even easier to pick up and play

A screenshot of Persona 5 Royal showing Joker walking around Yongen-Jaya

(Image credit: Atlus)

Persona 5 was a long enough game on its own at around 100 hours to complete and Persona 5 Royal adds an extra 30 hours of content. Even though I did play some of Persona 5 using Remote Play on PS4 with the help of the GameSir X2, there’s something to be said about how easy Persona 5 Royal is to play in handheld mode on the Switch.

Despite the Switch’s aging hardware, Persona 5 Royal still looks great on a 4K TV thanks to its stylized design. However, being able to pick up my Switch and play in handheld mode has given me the flexibility to play the game in bed, around the house or even on the go. With a game as long as Persona 5 Royal, this can certainly help you tackle it.

While the Switch may not be nearly as powerful as next-gen consoles, the simplicity of its UI has always been one of its best features. Though others often criticize the console for this, you aren’t bothered by messages, friend requests or even updates and can quickly and easily hop right back into a game you were playing. 

I told myself I was going to move on from Persona and take a much needed break from JRPGs earlier this year but playing Persona 5 Royal on Switch has sucked me right back in. Sure, large parts of the story will be the same but spotting the differences between the two games keeps me going. Also, being able to play on my TV or in handheld mode while taking as many screenshots as I want has given me an entirely different experience than I had the first time around.

Next: The Witcher Remake is exactly why we have remakes.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.