Press X to (Holiday) Weekend: A Royal JRPG and Finally Playing Hades

Happy holidays, nerds!

I was busy today and totally spaced my weekly update, so here we are at 8:30 PM. Oops?

I’ve been itching to dig into a meaty RPG and landed on Persona 5 Royal. I had a great time with the original version back in 2017, clocking in 125+ hours. When Royal came out I hesitated since I wasn’t sure just how much was added to the game and if it was even enough to warrant investing that much time into a second playthrough.

I’m currently 25 hours in and the answer is 100% “yes.”

The pacing feels much better, giving you more freedom to build stats and introducing more confidants early on. I’m not spending nearly as much time being forced to sleep by Morgana, or passing time at the bathhouse. It’s nice.

There are new ways to build stats without actually passing time (like crossword puzzles) and new ways that do (renting DVDs).

One of my biggest gripes with the original game was its cryptic negotiation system that allowed you to communicate with enemies during a battle in order to add them to the collection. I hated this concept back in the original Persona and definitely wasn’t happy to see it back.

Royal makes this much easier by adding new confidant abilities (unlocked at early ranks) for Ann and Ryuji that give second chances if you fail. Morgana will also chime in during hold-ups and give you hints on which replies to choose. The responses can still be cryptic at times but I’m having a significantly easier time this time around.

A new addition that I didn’t even know I wanted is the grappling hook, which allows you to navigate dungeons in different ways and so far has prevented them from feeling too samey or having their pacing ruined. I think this is mainly because I’ve already been through these before and now it’s just different enough to feel new.

Combat has been improved too. You’re given Baton Pass as a combat ability very early, so it’s no longer a confidant-specific thing that unlocks through their respective rankings. This takes the burden off of Joker early on, no longer being relied upon to have a full spread of elemental spells to target weak points. Now you can just hit a weak point and Baton Pass to Skull, Panther, and Mona within the first dungeon.

There are more differences I won’t get into, like despair shadows and will seeds, but it goes without saying that Royal is an improved version of an already stellar JRPG. I’m currently 25 hours in, sitting at the end of May somewhere in Madarame’s palace. I just secured the treasure and saved my game before sending out the calling card.

Outside of Persona 5 Royal, I finally decided to give Hades a shot. I generally do not jive with roguelikes but I now see what all the fuss was about. Hades is incredible.

You play as Zagreus, son of Hades, as he attempts to fight his way out of the land of the dead. In true roguelike/lite fashion, every run has different map layouts, randomized power-ups, multiple currencies, and punishing boss battles.

Hades isn’t very mean, though. You get to keep most of your currencies when you die, using them to unlock permanent upgrades (like an additional dash cooldown and the ability to resurrect with 50% HP upon death), gifts for your friends that raise their affinities and obtain items in return, decorate your room, and unlock new weapons.

The writing in this game is also phenomenal. Everyone just oozes character and every death sends you back to Hades’ abode to unlock new conversations and experience new narrative morsels. Everything is just perfectly drip-fed so you’re always earning, unlocking, and learning, which drastically dulls the sting of repetition.

Combat in Hades also feels great. I actually struggled with the sword until I got lucky with certain randomized power-ups, but it wasn’t until I unlocked the bow that I finally managed to defeat the first boss and see the 2nd area. The bow’s special attack fires out a spread of arrows that can destroy projectiles and slow down mobs of enemies, which was invaluable. Its magic ability lobs out a bomb that I upgraded to cause a bunch of lingering damage, which let me kite some of the more gnarly monsters.

I unlocked the shield, but haven’t checked it out yet. I’ve only made about 25 runs so far. I’m in love with Hades, though, and have enjoyed making a new run here and there since it’s been busy lately.

That about does it for me, though. What about you? Any gaming plans over the holiday weekend? I’m 40 and my mom bought me a Dreamcast for Christmas (lol) so I know what I’m doing tomorrow!

I also have a job interview on Monday and I’m nervous. I’ve been a full-time student and caretaker since 2014 but I can’t do online classes anymore and want/need a full-time job to take some financial stress away from my mom. I’ll still be taking care of her, of course.

One thought on “Press X to (Holiday) Weekend: A Royal JRPG and Finally Playing Hades

  1. That negotiation mechanic is what put me off of Shin Megami Tensei. I just watched a bit of a let’s play for it, but it put me on the fence. I’m okay with some randomness (random battles yo), but I don’t know; that just seemed unappealing. I’m glad they fixed it in Royal! I’m playing an Atlus dungeon crawler myself (it was hilarious to find out they were made by the same people): Etrian Odyssey Nexus. We were talking about it on Twitter. It’s so weird because I am usually not into games this difficult, but I have it on normal and could go down to an easier level. So far I haven’t died yet lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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