Persona 5 Royal is more or less a director’s cut of Persona 5, initially released in the West in 2017. It is a turned-based RPG that focuses on your ability to develop relationships with other characters. While a lot feels familiar, the game’s additions flesh out the story more. Additionally, this new game also offers new Personas to unlock, the ability to customize your own personal Thieves Den, as well as new story arcs, cutscenes, alternate endings, and characters. Persona 5 Royal is perfect for newcomers looking to jump into the series as well as fans who miss the world of Persona 5 and are desperate to dive back in.
In regards to deaf/hoh accessibility, there are a lot of the things Persona 5 Royal does right. But at the same time, there are also some baffling choices. Before you even start the game, you are greeted with a new flashy opening and the game’s new song. Persona 5 is known for its music so it was incredibly disappointing to not see the lyrics captioned.
The biggest problem with Persona 5 Royal is the lack of captioning, especially during cutscenes. Comparatively, during regular gameplay, the dialogue is beautifully subtitled and those subtitles are fairly large. However, there is disappointingly no option to increase their size.
Speaker titles are easy and clear to understand and the main characters’ speaker titles also include their face. The speaker titles also change over the course of the game. Sometimes games spoil a character’s entrance into the story with a speaker title. Luckily, that is not the case here. Characters’ names on their speaker title will display vague descriptions until you are fully introduced. This choice helps keep the story consistent and avoid unnecessary spoilers. Character introductions and entrances feel that much more powerful because of this decision.
Also with the regular subtitles, the game’s animations make up for some of what is lost with the lack of captions. If a character is anguished, their facial features will show that in great detail. That being said, full captioning is and will always be preferred.
Since so much of the story relies on speaking to your confidants and remembering their conversations, Persona 5 Royal also features a dialogue log. In the middle of conversations and even after, you can check everything that was said. This log isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the regular subtitles but does the trick if something goes over your head. In addition, Persona 5 Royal gives you the option to turn auto-advance on or off. If it is off, subtitles will not leave until you click them away. This option is incredibly helpful when things move fast.
The game also features a lot of background noise and dialogue. Some are subtitled in a clever, artistic (but clear) manner, but a majority is not. The dialogue you hear over PAs at the train station is a great example of something that should be subtitled but is not. However, the background subtitles and ability to listen in on characters is a great way to build the world and seeing it cleverly subtitled is a delight.
Unfortunately, not all subtitles in the game are created equal. During cutscenes, the beautiful speaker titles and flashy animations disappear and are instead replaced by significantly smaller text.
This is especially frustrating during the cinematic where you are first introduced to your Persona. Since the Persona lives within your character, it is impossible to know who is speaking to you. A lot of the story during cutscenes gets lost because so many characters and voices that are speaking are not on screen.
Outside of the cutscenes, the game’s UI is fairly easy to use and nothing in the game, that I have found, requires you to only rely on sound. Tutorials are explained both in-game and in a pop-up. Your map is always accessible and fast travel is easy to unlock. Additionally, Important dialogue during battles is subtitled with further explanations of what needs to be done, located in the top right corner. That being said, I do wish the cute quips between the team during battles were also subtitled.
While traversing palaces, the game shows you where enemies are, with an Assassin’s Creed eagle eye type ability, that can be used repeatedly without needing to be recharged, and vibration. The controller vibrates as an enemy is approaching you. I had no difficulty sneaking up and attacking enemies because of this.
At the end of the day, Persona 5 Royal does a lot right and also a lot wrong. I wish the subtitles were more consistent and full captioning was offered. However, it is not unplayable by any stretch for Deaf/Hoh players.
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