On Game Pass, Persona 5 Royal is perfect JRPG gateway drug
One of the best things about the rise of gaming subscription services is that they let you experiment in a relatively risk-free fashion. I’m big on outright owning my games - I’m old fashioned that way - but it’s still only honest to admit that at this point I’ve tried and fallen in love with quite a few games I might not otherwise have tried thanks to Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, and other services that provide ‘free’ access to games.
Today marks the release of Persona 5 Royal on Xbox, PC, and Nintendo Switch - and on two of those platforms, this new excellent port is sliding into Microsoft’s Xbox and PC-based subscription service on day one. Down the line Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 will follow.
I actually think this is pretty exciting, and not just because this release opens up one of the best RPGs of recent years to a much wider audience. One of the most intriguing elements of this release is the potential for a game as potent and arresting as Persona 5 Royal to get an opportunity to charm people who otherwise might not have ever given it the time of day.
While there’s plenty of Japanese RPGs on the PC, and a decent amount on Xbox, it’s fair to say also that these platforms aren’t the ‘home’ of the genre. That, appropriately, would be the Japanese-made consoles from Nintendo and Sony. The Japanese-developed RPGs that do fly on PC and Xbox tend to be the biggest names, often with a western-minded design consideration - Final Fantasy and the like. And so, on these platforms, Persona 5 Royal has a tremendous opportunity.
With no price-based barrier-to-entry, Persona 5 has a chance to grab new players - to create JRPG converts. I can think of few titles better for this job in the modern age - as if you’re not going to get somebody to play an older JRPG from the ‘golden age’ of the genre, Persona 5 Royal is probably the next-best thing in the modern age.
Even if you’re the sort of person who isn’t typically into the anime aesthetic, the slice-of-life aspect of Persona is relatable, and the way in which it tries to face up to real-world issues is intriguing. The Persona fusion system is easy to understand, but with ample depth to allow players to tumble into one of the greatest joys of the genre, min-maxing stats and stretching combat to breaking point. And, of course, stylistically it just has a lot of energy, from those endlessly slick menus to a toe-tapping jazz-infused soundtrack.
A lot of the time, I think a barrier for entry for a lot of Western RPG players - a Witcher or Mass Effect fan, for instance - is the price of entry. If you’re not into anime, the box art probably puts you off a little. Even with sky-high review scores, are you going to risk dropping cold, hard cash on something you might bounce off of?
With Game Pass, that danger is gone. The fact Persona 5 Royal can be nabbed on the Windows Store, on Xbox, or even played on your phone via Xbox’s Cloud service means it’s incredibly easy to dip a toe… and get ensnared.
In terms of its ability to ensnare, on strength of its sheer quality alone Persona 5 Royal might just be the perfect Game Pass game - at least, if you’re not already somebody on board with it. If you’re a Western RPG fan with access to the service, the time is now - give P5R a try.