The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic machine for role-playing games; it’s something Nintendo has been aware of from the very start. The hybrid nature of the Switch makes it easy to settle in for hours-long sessions on your TV or, when you have just 15 minutes to spare on the bus, tackle a mission or battle in handheld mode.
More than five and a half years in, the Switch has a robust library of RPGs, both new and old. But this month, two modern classics join that collection — including Persona 5 Royal, which is just as good as you might have hoped.
Everything that made Persona 5 such a hit is intact
I first played through Royal in 2020 on the PS4, and to me, the Switch version feels nearly exactly the same. Everything that made Persona 5 such a hit is intact. The strategic turn-based combat is just as fun as it was on PS4. The game oozes style, with its flashy user interface, distinctive modern-day anime art style, and catchy soundtrack that you’ll be snapping your fingers to long after you’ve shut down the game. The characters are full of personality, and over time, many of them will actually start to feel like friends.
On the Switch, I felt like my experience was actually better due to the console’s portability. I tackled a good chunk of the game’s first dungeon in portable mode while semi-watching a lazy Sunday movie. On a recent trip, I was able to breeze through a few in-game days while waiting for a flight. The Switch’s reliable sleep / wake feature makes it easy to pause at any moment, especially with the turn-based battles and frequent text conversations that you can treat as micro stopping points. That makes it easy to work through the absolutely massive game in bite-size chunks.
Portability also makes the game feel more personal, in the same way that visual novels work well on the Switch. Because you can play on your own small screen, the game feels like it’s unfolding just for you. Yes, it’s of course possible to feel that way while playing on a big TV in the living room. But given how much text there is in the game, on Switch, Persona 5 sometimes feels like an exciting manga or anime that you’re actually playing.
I have noticed a few downgrades on Switch. The graphics aren’t as good, with a few visual effects like the shimmery doors that mark safe rooms being noticeably bad, and the game can look blurry in portable mode. Loading times have occasionally been a second or two more than I remember on PS4, but they’ve never felt overly long. Like on PlayStation, you can’t use the left control stick to select options in a battle or during a conversation; instead, you have to move your thumb to use the D-pad. But to me, none of those are deal-breakers; if you’ve been waiting to play the game on Switch, you still should.
I’ve only been able to get through the first main section of the story so far, which took me just about nine hours, and I can’t vouch for any potential deal-breakers down the line. I just don’t have time to play through the whole game! It took more than 100 hours for me on PS4. But nothing I’ve played on Switch so far suggests there will be issues that crop up later.
I’ve also spent some time with Nier: Automata The End of Yorha Edition, which was released on Switch earlier this month. Nier: Automata plays a lot like I remember on the Xbox, just on a portable platform. The game’s surprisingly humanistic story, haunting music, and Yoko Taro-weirdness are all there, with only slight graphical downgrades. Like with Persona 5 Royal, being able to play Nier: Automata in handheld mode makes the story feel more like a great book that you’re experiencing all on your own, and it’s even better for it.
The transition to portable has helped other big RPGs find new audiences; Persona 3 and Persona 4 are two prime examples, which got popular rereleases as Persona 3 Portable on the PlayStation Portable and Persona 4 Golden on the Vita. Those two games might find new life on Switch, too, since they’re launching on the platform in January. Hopefully that’s enough time to get through Persona 5 Royal.
Persona 5 Royal will be released on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PC on October 21st. It’s currently available on PlayStation. Nier: Automata The End of Yorha Edition is now available on Nintendo Switch.