For reference, all of the Palaces in Persona 5 Royal are thoroughly enjoyable. Given the option of these or dungeons from another RPG, we’re likely to pick one of these. Whether it’s the rolling balls and ancient beams of the pyramid or the topsy turvy staircases of the museum, we truly enjoyed our time with every one. Still, it’s the done thing to sort these kind of things into tiers these days, and having already written about confidants we felt like turning our hand to the Palaces from the very same game. Check out our rankings below and see if you agree!
- Futaba’s Palace
- Kamoshida’s Palace
- Shido’s Palace
- Sae Niijima’s Palace
After quite some consideration – no really, it took us quite a while to figure these all out – we settled on the pyramid that is Futaba’s Palace for first place. We loved the complete change in environment compared to those that came before and, after a short period of befuddlement chasing a thief around a town, we firmly enjoyed exploring the dungeon itself. This place strikes the perfect balance between puzzle, spectacle and pure voyage of discovery. We were never left wondering where to go next, at least not for too long, and thanks to the diverse selection of enemies and novel vertical movement sections, we always felt encouraged to push further. It’s a well balanced, wonderfully imagined palace, unsurpassed throughout. Those Egyptian inspired puzzles were a blast too.
If we’re honest, this is the palace that had the most effort lavished upon it, and it shows. Every piece of decor, architecture, lighting and locale has been designed to perfectly suit one that owns a metaphorical castle. It’s a slow build of a place that’s meant to ease you into the pool of crazy that is the world of Persona, and it achieves this fantastically. Perhaps its rose tinted spectacles being the first the player encounters, but there will always be something magical about this place, even the erm.. Interesting sub boss fight for the third Will Seed.
We’re not quite sure what all the fuss is about here. Everywhere we look there are complaints about the silly rat puzzles, but we found it to be a slightly taxing addition to an otherwise excellent palace. The setting for the whole thing is tremendous – who doesn’t love a massive cruise ship sailing over a drowned city – and the premise of being allowed into escalating VIP sections by conning villains is a high point of the experience. All of this is capped off with the heavy story beats that occur near the end, and the well designed final boss whose name literally translates to what he’s mounted upon*, adding up to a fantastic dungeon crawling experience.
*Between both of his names exists the word Shishi, which roughly translates to Lion. He is mounted upon a lion made of human bodies in one of his forms during the final fight.
Sae Niijima’s Palace
Boy do they make you wait for this one. Two thirds of the way through the game you’ll finally get to witness the Casino, or Saes Palace, and enjoy the splendour. We’re not about to claim that it’s the absolute best, especially given the undercurrent of leading Akechi on a wild chase, but it’s firmly enjoyable throughout. The puzzles are fun and the enemy variation is great, but we find it’s let down very slightly by some particularly bland areas that require repetition. Additionally, whilst we understand the premise that the owner doesn’t have a hugely twisted heart, the final boss design was a bit of a let down – her initial design had promise, but the form she takes for the final battle is a little underwhelming compared to the bombastic versions found elsewhere. Still a fantastic dungeon to crawl through, just not quite up there at the peak of our list.
- Maruki’s Palace
- Okamura’s Palace
The final palace in the game occupies the middle ground for us once again, but for different reasons. We understand that the place cannot seem too oppressive, given the relatively good natured intentions of its leader, but in practice this gives the place an odd feel which, combined with the initial hospital section makes the place a little too strange. We really enjoyed the gated garden section, but despised the test question section which felt like wading through treacle with your laces tied. It’s a strange, obscure, completely different palace from the others and whilst appreciate the dissonance this creates, as a whole it didn’t quite work for us.
This place occupies such a strange place in our minds. On your first trip down, it’s a fun excursion into a novel yet samey environment full of treasures, enemies and exploration. Subsequent trips see the lustre and shine fall off slightly when you realise it’s essentially exactly the same thing every time. Later on, it’s usage is revived slightly by the addition of the depths before the first big bad, which is highly enjoyable, and the confidant ability of Ryuji, making random encounters literally a breeze. The second half too is enjoyable at first, before drifting into that crushing repetition. Middle of the road then, exactly where it deserves to be.
We actually enjoyed this place more than we expected. Our expectations were particularly low, given the limited exposure to the villains bad deeds. To clarify, he’s clearly a bad dude, but his character feels less fleshed out than others. The palace itself falls flat in a few places, particularly some moving platform sections in the middle, but reclaims some ground during the space floating sections, hence it’s occupying a middle tier slot. We ended up really enjoying the character of Haru and not just because of her combat performance, so we’re quite sad to say that this one didn’t quite meet our expectations. Additionally, if your fanbase has worked out that turning the difficulty level up to the max makes the final boss easier, something isn’t quite right.
- Madarame’s Palace
- Kaneshiro’s Palace
On balance, the problems with the second palace may well come down to the fact that you’ve just come from one of the best that Persona 5 Royal has to offer. That being said, we really didn’t find it too enjoyable at all. It’s gaudy and brash of course, and the Mario 64-ish picture jumping section is a high spot, but it just didn’t quite feel like a smooth experience. The early portion where you lose party members to the lasers felt a bit forced, so too did the laser section in the middle, but the biggest let down has to be the final boss – even the updated version in Royal is so unspectacular that it left us feeling a little unsatisfied.
Bottom of the pile in our list has to be Kaneshiro’s palace. It’s not that we don’t appreciate it’s good points – the boss fight, introduction and a few of the locations were great fun – but overall it just feels so annoying and bland. Those good points are majorly overshadowed by a mid section that features grey room after grey room, punctuated by light puzzle after light puzzle. Well, when we say puzzle what we mean is ‘progress until you reach the next switch whilst dodging light pads on the floor’, which wore thin rather quickly. This was repeated lord knows how many times, by the end of which we’d just had enough. This is as close to a bad Palace as it gets for us, so whilst we’re not going to call it completely terrible, it’s bottom of our list for sure.