Leading up to my college graduation, Persona 5 Royal reminded me of what I already missed about being on campus and balancing everything.
Ever since its launch in 2017, Persona 5 was one of those games that haunted my ever-growing backlog. I would tell myself I’d play it and then life would get in the way, other games would release, and school would keep me busy. A part of what made me put this game off for so long was its story, which would take over 100 hours to reach the credits. With my limited time, I gravitated towards shorter games or RPGs that wouldn’t take as long for me to finish. Leading up to the end of my time in college last month, I decided it was time to pick up Persona 5 Royal and finally start it.
A month later, I finished it and was left in awe of what I just played. At the same time, it reminded me of being in college and doing things like balancing work, school, and hanging out with friends in a structured schedule or day.
By the time I reached the ending, I didn’t want it to be over because I felt so attached to every character I encountered. Each Confidant is so well-developed, interesting, and charming in their own way. As each in-game school day ended and I could do whatever I wanted, I struggled with who to hang out with. If I didn’t want to hang out with anyone, I could do things like studying, going to the gym, working a part-time job at the convenience store, or exploring Mementos.
In a way, this range of options correlated to what it was like when I was in college and had time in between classes or after my last class. There were days where I was torn between heading home for the day, grabbing dinner with a friend, or going to the library to study some more. This also extended to times in the game where I would question whether I used my time wisely or not. Did I have to hang out with Ryuji this day, or could that have waited till tomorrow and gone through Mementos instead? Things like this would pop up all the time as I played Persona 5 Royal, and I loved every moment of it.
In addition to the time management aspect of the game, playing Persona 5 Royal provided me a daily structure. Before my college went online due to COVID-19, I had a rough schedule I followed every day, from what time I’d arrive on campus to when I’d get lunch and study in-between classes. That went away once my classes went online and I struggled to find the motivation to get anything done. The same could be said for most of us during quarantine as we adjusted to what was happening.
As someone who majored in English, I’d have days where writing an essay or short story for a fiction writing class would be tough or I wouldn’t feel like reading another couple chapters of a book. I eventually figured it out, and playing Persona 5 Royal kind of helped me get through that. Not only did the game’s calendar system influence me, but I would also play it at a certain time each day for at least three hours. Some days I’d play less than that, but other times I’d play it for a few extra hours. Doing this provided me some form of structure and something to look forward to each day.
From the moment I started Persona 5 Royal, I knew I’d love it. Its slick menus and layout are so well-designed, the music is everything and filled with bops, and the story went in directions that left me speechless. The social stats and confidant systems were also developed in a way that made me want to rank everything up in order to enhance my experience. Part of me wishes I started it back in 2017 when it launched, but better late than never, right?
As this current console generation slows down, I felt I should start Persona 5 Royal. Having been out of college for over a month, I already miss aspects of it such as taking interesting classes, being on campus, and hanging out with friends. In some way, playing Persona 5 Royal reminded me of these things and more, minus being in Shibuya, exploring other people’s palaces, and making curry along the way.