Is it just me, or did Persona 5 never feel quite at home on the PlayStation 4? Sure, it looked gorgeous on a big TV, its bright colours popping all over your living room, but it always felt bit wrong to me. I think it's all about pacing. Persona 5's blend of turn-based combat and life sim elements hardly moves at a breakneck speed. There's a lot of reading. A lot of listening to your pals chat about their hopes and fears. A lot of pressing one button to progress a line of dialogue onto the next. Shoving that on your 65" 4K TV always seemed a bit overkill.
Basically, I never got into Persona 5 when it first launched on PS4. I played about three hours of it and then binned it off in favour of something else. In 2020, during a moment of first-lockdown madness, I bought Persona 5 Royal for full price, thinking maybe my issue with the original release was that there wasn't enough of it, but surprisingly discovered it still wasn't for me. At this point, I'd invested £100 into my "Do I like Persona 5?" experiment and was quickly realising the result was a pretty firm "No, mate, you don't". So when I sat down with the PC version of the game on the Steam Deck to test it out, I figured I'd play it for a few hours and then never touch it again. I was wrong. I was so very wrong.
Persona 5 feels like it was made for the Steam Deck. Being able to play the game portably has completely resolved all of my gripes with the original version of the game. I'm no longer chained its fixed save points, able to simply suspend the game whenever I feel like it before jumping back in when I have a spare 20 minutes later on. Long conversations feel more digestable on a smaller screen, and indeed Persona's structure is perfect for short yet frequent play sessions. The whole game is very snackable, and no longer having to boot up the box under your TV everytime you want to play for 20 minutes is a game changer.
It helps, of course, that the game runs brilliantly on the Deck. With all graphics options set to their highest setting, the game works without a hitch at 30fps. I personally chose to fiddle a little further, using the Deck's customisable refresh rate feature to run the game at a slightly faster 40fps instead. I found this to be a preferable compromise, as although the Deck can run the game at a relatively smooth 60 with only a little bit of tweaking, 40 lets you do so without any visual sacrifices. Also, with the exception of combat animations, 60 isn't exactly a life changing difference in a game where you spend the majority of your time looking at character portraits and text boxes. 40 was fine for me.
Battery life is mercifully long. With the settings mentioned above, the Deck lasts for around four hours before it needs a recharge. That's more than enough time to grab Ramen with best boy Ryuji before jumping into a pervert's mind palace and battering him about a bit. You probably even have a bit of time left over to study, or work your part-time job.
The only issue I could find is that the game insists it's displayed at a 16:9 aspect ratio, resulting in small black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. It's not the end of the world (and it's the same story when played on PC, too) but it's definitely worth noting. I'd recommend you immediately change the game's resolution to 1280x720 when booting it up for the first time, as the Deck's default res causes the game to appear a bit rough around the edges.
Other than that, this is a superb way to play Persona 5 Royal. Experiencing the game on the Steam Deck has completely stolen my heart (ha!) and I couldn't be more excited to dig in further. Persona 5 liker Ed has also been playing the PC version, and reckons it's still the JRPG king. The game launches on Steam this Friday.