Persona 5 Royal is out tomorrow on PlayStation 4, and it has a fair bit of new content that wasn’t present in the original game when it came out in 2017. From characters to meet and hang out with, personas to collect, and a fair bit of side quests to finish, there’s plenty here to both make the game better, as well as give veterans a reason to revisit the story of the Phantom Thieves. With all this newness, it can be hard to suss out just what’s most important to see your first time through, whether you’ve played the original game or not. Having finished the game this weekend, here’s the most important thing you need to consider when it comes to how you spend your time with Persona 5 Royal:
You should go see the counselor.
Takuto Maruki is one of the new characters added in Persona 5 Royal, and he is, without question, the game’s most valuable addition. After the events of the game’s first arc reveals that Suguru Kamoshida, the volleyball coach at the cast’s high school Shujin Academy, was abusing students, Maruki is brought in as a counselor to help the kids talk through their shared trauma. In a game full of awful adults who seem to exclusively exist to ruin the lives of teenagers, Maruki is one of the truest, purest figures in the game. He’s empathetic, transparent in how much he wants to help people work through their pain, and if he can, he wants to help rid them of it completely.
This is a significant thing for a few reasons. First off, in the original Persona 5, things like this were only really discussed within the context of these victims’ relationship with the protagonist, Joker. Which does make some sense given that the game is seen through his perspective, but now, with Maruki’s inclusion, each character gets a moment to talk about themselves in a way that doesn’t have to be within the scope of another character’s vision.
Ryuji, Joker’s best friend (although he should probably be his boyfriend, too), talks to Maruki about dealing with a leg injury that ruined his track career, Ann, a victim of Kamoshida’s harassment who also nearly lost her best friend to this abuse, gets to vent about how she feels she let her friend down, and Makoto, the student council president who feels the weight of all these expectations, gets to explore what she wants for herself, not what she knows people expect of her.
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Maruki facilitates some of Persona 5 Royal’s most introspective scenes, and it’s already a game overflowing with this moments. But now, these characters get to look beyond their lives as the Phantom Thieves, and that’s what makes them all the more special.
But beyond what it means for Persona 5’s characters, Maruki’s inclusion is important because he offers you, the player, the bulk of the game you spent $60 on.
Note that I’m writing all of this taking care to say nothing that even approaches spoiler territory. But this is a PSA for anyone and everyone who might be playing Royal in the coming days, weeks, months, years. Whatever it may be: if you do not complete Maruki’s Confidant route before November 18, you will not have access to the majority of Persona 5 Royal’s new content.
The game does a pretty good job of letting you know that seeing Maruki, going to his therapy sessions, and helping him with his research is important, but what it does not clearly communicate to you is that if you don’t do it, you won’t see Persona 5 Royal’s third semester. Instead, Persona 5 Royal will lead to the same conclusion as the original game, and you’ll miss out on roughly 20 hours of new content.
So do yourself a favor and go to therapy. You’ll be glad you did.