"This atmosphere... is this a Palace!?"
Maruki's Palace, also known as the Center of Melancholy, or the Laboratory of Sorrow, is a location in Persona 5 Royal. It is the Palace of Takuto Maruki. It is the one new Palace in Royal, not present in the original game.
Persona 5 Royal
A world within the Metaverse that is seemingly created by Takuto Maruki, although unlike the others, Maruki is physically present (instead of just his Shadow Self). It appears as a large, towering structure of glass and gold, with the interior resembling a mental health center. The long, spiral structure consisting of the lower half of the Palace is just an elevator, while the actual interior is the golden sphere in the middle, shaped like a Globe depicting the earth's continents. The globe itself appears to have a near-infinite amount of interior space. Unlike the other Palaces, it appears to be directly connected to Mementos. Its key words for the Metaverse Navigator are "Dr. Maruki," "Stadium," and "Laboratory."
This Palace is the largest one in the game and exploring it requires at least two days alongside an exploration to a new area in Mementos to its true bottom in order to remove a roadblock at the Palace's heart, making it a total of three days. The interior scales straight upwards in a zig-zag position. The lower levels, connected to the surface by an extremely long elevator towards the globe on the top, consists of a lobby, a control center, a laboratory, and a warehouse, with an elevator connecting to the middle level at the end of the Warehouse. The middle floors contain a monitor room (housing a roadblock connected to Mementos), a research ward, a mental health check center and a counseling room. The Counseling Room contains an elevator going upwards into the Twilight Corridor; a paradise-like area resembling a massive conservatory.
A passageway from the Twilight Corridor connects to the topmost floor; the Garden of Eden. Initially, the breakable objects are heart-shaped trinkets, but if the party goes to the Warehouse and beyond, most breakable objects will become cylindrical containers with a black, claw-tipped tentacle holding a brain, with the brain being the object within. Its cognitions are patients that slowly degrade into basic versions of their former selves that only want blind happiness. Since Maruki does not see anyone in a distorted manner, these cognitions appear as human and passive. However, they only exist in the clinic and paradise areas of the Palace; the research ward area and warehouse lacks any cognitive populations.
The Shadows resemble lanky, purple and black, vaguely humanoid beings that are either undressed or in doctors' coats. Undressed Shadows may or may not have any appendages, and those who possess limbs also have messy hair that resemble Maruki's prior to his ascension into a godly being. If an undressed Shadow with appendages spots the protagonist, it will crawl quickly on four legs in an attempt to ambush the party. Those who do not possess limbs will instead turn their head into a massive jaw to bite him. Guard captains have large, exaggerated muscles. In addition, as seen by the mid-boss that transforms into Hastur, they release turquoise liquid from their orifices instead of black liquid. Furthermore, they wear turquoise and white masks with black spirals and a pale blue spot on the side.
It first materializes as a distortion of the Odaiba construction site, which is a stadium that was about to be reconstructed into a cognitive research center by Maruki, but construction of it was stopped due to the fundraising being halted. Kasumi Yoshizawa inadvertently accesses the Palace because she said the key words. The protagonist, who was going to meet her near the stadium to return a good luck charm of hers, is pulled into the Palace with her, along with Morgana.
With Kasumi missing, the protagonist and Morgana go down and search, revealing its interior that resembles a research lab. When they enter the center hall, an image of Kasumi's supposedly dead sister appears and mutters "Because...of...me...Kasumi...instead..." implying Kasumi was the one that died, causing an adverse reaction to her. The image is quickly squashed by a Shadow before it can continue talking, and it bursts out into a Byakhee to attack the party. Kasumi awakens to her Persona Cendrillon and fights the Shadow alongside the protagonist and Morgana. With her power of Persona awakened, Morgana invites her to join the party, to which she declines.
The event takes place naturally on October 3. Should the calling card for Kunikazu Okumura be sent the previous day, the boss encounter in Okumura's Palace will overwrite this event and it will happen on the next day, October 4, after beating Okumura instead.
In order to unlock the upcoming events, Takuto Maruki's Confidant must reach Rank 9 before the November 18th (max rank is achieved automatically on this date) so he can gain the tools necessary to change the masses' cognition.
On January 2, Kasumi can detect the Palace in the real world on her way home, and requests the protagonist investigate it with her. Goro Akechi, who had been discussing a deal with the protagonist at the same time, overhears their conversation, and accompanies the protagonist to the Palace. The trio explore together, as the Palace appears to be responsible for the strange occurrences surrounding the protagonist's friends, such as Futaba's mother Wakaba Isshiki being alive or Morgana taking the form of a human. Unlike in October, when it was deserted, the Palace is now full of cognitive patients seeking happiness, and Shadows begin to spawn. Due to the other party member's personas being temporarily erased from existence thanks to their traumas being wiped out from the fabric of history, along with none of them being willing to depart from their happiness at this point, none of them will join until the end of January 9, and most confidant abilities from them are unusable.
As they go further, pieces of the truth about Kasumi are revealed, much to her confusion and pain. This eventually results in Kasumi's disguise breaking off bit by bit, causing her to recklessly rush into battle. After defeating several Belials in the Test Track, they warn the trio that "agony" awaits them before vanishing. The image of a girl resembling Kasumi, but with brown hair and a beauty mark below her left eye, then appears and reaches out to "Sumire." The voice of a man through a speaker then warns them that their heart will be torn should they dare proceed.
As the trio venture into the center of the Test Track, they finally encounter the owner of the Palace and the instigator of the strange occurrences; the former school counselor of Shujin Academy, Takuto Maruki. He claims that reality is too painful, and he used his power to create a new reality devoid of misery, ignorant to the fact that such a world only leads to stagnation and existential nihilism. Unable to talk past the protagonist and Akechi, he shows the truth of Kasumi Yoshizawa on a large television screen; the "Kasumi" whom the protagonist has known is in fact Kasumi's younger sister Sumire Yoshizawa, who was always jealous of her sister's talent.
Her jealousy led to suicidal depression, eventually resulting in Sumire unknowingly throwing herself onto traffic because of a fit of suppressed emotions, only for Kasumi to sacrifice herself to save her sister. With the truth fully revealed, "Kasumi's" disguise unravels and reverts to her own form, along with her Phantom Thief attire disappearing, her will of rebellion snuffed out. When she expresses her desire to return to her life as Kasumi, Maruki takes Sumire to treat personally before sending out a Hastur to attack the boys. Afterwards, he grants them a week of time to reconsider his offer, in which the protagonist uses to sow seeds of doubt into the Phantom Thieves' minds, gently reminding them about the lives they have left behind, while Akechi takes the opportunity to get intel on Maruki. In order to make sure Sumire's parents don't worry about their daughter, Maruki makes them think that she is in a training camp.
This deadline is impossible to miss, as the only way that the protagonist can spend time within the week is to find any of the seven party members that are still living in Maruki's reality, their locations being marked by a blue tarot card. The protagonist cannot visit more than one member per day, and is not allowed to progress otherwise. The others brush off whatever he tells them, too content with living their ideal lives, but each sees a glimpse of themselves in the true reality. Though they show hesitation, they ultimately ignore the protagonist.
Once all of them have been spoken to, the protagonist returns to Akechi at Odaiba at the end of the week. The remaining Phantom Thieves all gather in Leblanc to discuss if the protagonist was ultimately right and they are missing something, despite the fact that they are truly happy. They all reach a consensus and the illusion breaks for them, turning Morgana into a cat instantly, along with the Sayuri painting returning to Leblanc's wall.
The duo reaches Maruki, and he offers the protagonist to accept his reality; doing so results in a bad ending where all of the Phantom Thieves live in his reality permanently with no hesitations, bar the protagonist who may still be partially aware. If he refuses, Sumire will awaken and, still in denial of the truth, attack the party in desperation. Akechi stays out of the fight in fear of killing her due to his combat instincts. Sumire goes down easily after a few attacks. Maruki will then summon a device straight out from Mementos to restrain Sumire, causing Cendrillon to go berserk and attack the protagonist and Akechi, with Maruki summoning Byakhee for it to absorb to keep itself alive. The duo is no match for Cendrillon's berserk state and are left helpless until the rest of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts join the fight, having decided to come help the protagonist after breaking free from Maruki's reality. They gather to defeat the berserk Cendrillon, with two random members from the party composition used to defeat Yaldabaoth filling in the remaining party slots, leaving Akechi in the team. After Cendrillon is defeated, Maruki gives Sumire back to the party and then tells them to meet him in 30 days if they still wish to change his heart.
The Thieves meet Lavenza in the school's nurse's office. There, she tells them about Maruki, and how it's possible he's a Persona-user. The next day, the party storms the Palace with Sumire Yoshizawa appearing as herself, being given the codename "Violet." Her personality and appearance drastically change to match her true self.
Once Violet is surrounded by five Shadows that drop out from the ceiling, she attempts to summon Cendrillon, but fails as it has been destroyed. Once she establishes herself as a rebel against her old cowardly and selfish self and rips off her mask, the soul of the real Kasumi Yoshizawa takes the place as the new Cendrillon. The Shadows break into five Loa and are quickly defeated. Right after this, it turns out that a Shadow guard standing on top of the Auditorium's balcony ordered this stealth attack, who must be defeated in order to gain access to the Warehouse leading to the Laboratory's center as it holds the ID card required to enter it.
However, once they enter the center of the research laboratory, they are instantly met with the cables that were used to drive Cendrillon berserk, which must be broken at the true depths of Mementos, the Path of Da'at. The deadline for the 3rd of February will now begin and the depths of Mementos must be traversed to remove the roadblock before the party can proceed into the second half of the Palace. This means that the infiltration route needs to be secured by the 1st of February, after exploring the true depths of Mementos on the 31st of January at the latest.
Should the party miss this deadline, Mementos and reality will permanently become fused together, and Maruki will summon the protagonist into his office at Shujin Academy in his dreams, with the protagonist wearing his Velvet Room prison uniform. Believing it was difficult for the protagonist to act, Maruki tells him to sleep for all eternity so he wouldn't have to worry ever again, with the scene cutting to the protagonist lying on his bed in his room Leblanc with his phone long dead, and his room covered in dust and cobwebs. He is unwilling to leave his bed as he does not wish to think of anything, and not even Lavenza is able to reach out to him, as, in her butterfly form, she weakens, fades away and then vanishes as soon as she tries to reach the bed.
The mental health check center of the Palace has no enemies on its own, although the party is presented with an examination which trials its patients for how much their wishes correspond to Maruki's version of true happiness. There are 2, 3 and 5 answers respectively, and any answer that does not correlate to Maruki's ideals will result in the party being attacked by a normal Shadow encounter. At the second and third quizzes, they can also cheat by looking inside the windows of the control room for Shadow therapists.
The upper floors, known as the Twilight Corridor and Pscientifc Model Eden, resemble a paradise with patient cognitions doing nothing but laughing wildly and floating in the air. A staircase known as the "Stairway of Light" connects the upper floors of the Twilight Corridor to Psientific Model Eden. This area features a color puzzle that requires the party to match the lights of the dimmers into the gate's corresponding colors to open various areas. Turning on a dimmer's color will result in bridges containing the same color as the one turned on being created, and creates vine barricades that impede the party's progress if they contain that dimmer. The changes affect all dimmers within the area, preventing the party from bypassing everything by turning on the colors of all dimmers. Furthermore, certain dimmers may provide only one or two colors, and at the upper part of the Twilight Corridor, the bridges and barricades might require mixed colors to unlock. A sheet detailing the color mixing combinations can be seen taped near the controllers to assist the player.
Several areas in the Palace are barricaded by query-locked gates, which require passwords related to Maruki's personal life; all of these correspond to a VHS tape that must be viewed, which reveals parts of Maruki's past. It turns out that in the past, his ex-girlfriend Rumi's parents had a home invader while the two were visiting. Her parents were murdered in front of her, and she never got past the trauma, falling into catatonic depression. In Maruki's desperation to help her, a sleeping god contacted Maruki and gave him the subconscious power to change severe mental conditions, and Rumi mysteriously recovered from her depression. However, she consequently got her memories reshuffled, and thus she also forgot Maruki completely. He then distanced himself from her, believing her to be happier this way.
He then became an accomplished cognitive psience researcher in the lines of Wakaba Isshiki, though his thesis was rejected for lack of evidence, and his lifelong dream of building a cognitive psience research lab in Odaiba was destroyed due to its funding being cut off. He became a counselor afterwards and met Sumire Yoshizawa, who was so depressed that she refused any traditional methods that he used and confided in him that she secretly wished to become Kasumi, Maruki's subconscious powers were able to grant this wish immediately, causing Sumire to believe that she is Kasumi, and as a result, is distanced from her depression and survivor's guilt.
On the Day of Reckoning, on the 24th of December, it's revealed that Masayoshi Shido was the one who cut Maruki's funding. He presented his final essay to a university professor and expressed his desire to stop Shido, although the professor chides him for attempting to stop such a powerful politician alone and kicks him out. During the same time, Yaldabaoth enacts his final plan for world domination and accidentally causes Maruki to awaken to his Persona, Azathoth, an inadvertent result of his merging the Metaverse with the real world. After Yaldabaoth's fall, Maruki enacts his plan for mass salvation on Christmas Eve.
The treasure chamber of Maruki's Palace reveals itself to be the Garden of Eden, where barely dressed cognitive patients enjoy their life there and become ignorant to their surroundings. Once returning to the real world, the protagonist actively meets and gives Maruki a calling card in Leblanc on the 2nd of February, which seemingly does not cause any psychological distress on him unlike other targets, most likely because he is fully prepared for it.
On the next day, the Day of Fates, the final confrontation begins and the party and Maruki fight inside the central dome of the Garden of Eden. When the protagonist uses his grappling hook to scale directly on top of the artificial Tree of Knowledge, there is no turning back. No direct barricades are present, but the way down will be blocked by an invisible barrier. When met, Maruki already knows the protagonist's intent and is ready to fight to the end. He tells the party that this is the final battle, and he will no longer hold back, upon which his outfit changes into a golden priest's garb and his Persona, Azathoth, manifests. The party must defeat either Azathoth or Maruki twice, with one tentacle preventing Maruki from being damaged, one healing Maruki and the last casting buffs or debuffs. All of these tentacles swap weaknesses once Maruki regenerates them, and Azathoth takes greatly reduced damage in relation to how many tentacles are currently alive.
After defeating Azathoth, the Palace collapses and reveals its treasure, a golden torch. Maruki however, quickly confiscates the torch and fuses it with Azathoth, evolving it into its ultimate form, the Being of Infinite Wisdom, Adam Kadmon. After being defeated once, Maruki fuses himself with Adam Kadmon and is virtually invincible.
Futaba scans it for weaknesses, and finds that it's only vulnerable while it's attacking. The Phantom Thieves hold back the brunt of the attack using their personas, giving Joker the opportunity to grapple up to Adam Kadmon's head and fire the final shot, cracking Maruki's mask and destroying his Persona completely.
As Adam Kadmon is destroyed and the Palace collapses, Morgana transforms into a helicopter to escape with the rest of the team. However, Maruki pulls the protagonist down to the ground and asks him to "help kill" Maruki's regrets, finally venting all his frustrations after years of shutting them out. With the destruction of the Palace, and in turn the entire Metaverse, they resort to a fist fight due to the loss of their Personas. Maruki collapses after the fight, distraught and defeated. The floor beneath him shatters, and he falls. The protagonist catches him, but Maruki begs him to let go. The protagonist refuses, and Morgana rescues them.
After the Palace collapses and Adam Kadmon is destroyed, Maruki loses all of his power, resulting in everything returning to normal; the protagonist is now in juvenile hall where all of his Confidants, including ones that he maxed during the third semester, work together to free him. Morgana has not yet reappeared, and Akechi is once again missing.
The treasure that is Adam Kadmon's torch reveals itself to be the newsletter about the murder of Rumi's family. The protagonist keeps this newsletter as a memento.
Maruki's treasure is the torch of guidance. After Azathoth is defeated on the Day of Fates, Maruki fuses this torch with the remains of Azathoth and evolves it into Adam Kadmon as a last-ditch attempt to protect his reality. Once stolen, it reveals its true form as the newsletter about the murder of Rumi's family, which marks the beginning of Maruki's madness and grief. The newsletter is picked up by Sumire outside Maruki's Palace, and the protagonist keeps it.
- The following Confidant skills that can be used in Palaces do not activate during January 2 and January 9. They will return during phase two of the Cendrillon boss fight.
- Instant Kill, Card Duplication, Card Creation, Position Hack, Emergency Shift, Final Guard, any abilities that require any party member bar Akechi or Kasumi to be physically present within the party, and any Velvet Room related Bonus.
- Futaba's Moral Support and Treasure Reboot, as well as Makoto's Shadow Calculus, activate during these two days, even before rejoining. However, when activating the latter, Akechi will be narrating instead.
- Loa, Nebiros and Byakhee might manifest as a Disaster Shadow.
- Bugs cannot be recruited in this Palace.
- Red Shadows always manifest as Fafnir. This Shadow has no weaknesses and is unaffected by Physical and Gun attacks, so use technical damage or Down Shot to initiate a Hold Up.
- The following Confidant skills that can be used in Palaces do not activate during January 2 and January 9. They will return during phase two of the Cendrillon boss fight.
|Tentacle of Protection||???||Councillor||Wk||Rp||Rp||Rp||Nu||Nu||Nu||Nu||Rp||Rp||20|
|Tentacle of Healing||???||Councillor||Nu||-||Nu||Nu||Rp||Rp||Wk||Wk||Wk||Wk||20|
|Tentacle of Assistance||???||Councillor||Nu||-||Wk||Wk||Wk||Wk||Rp||Rp||Nu||Nu||20|
|Maruki (Adam Kadmon)||???||Councillor||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||20|
|Adam Kadmon (Top)||???||Councillor||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||20|
|Adam Kadmon (Right)||???||Councillor||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||20|
|Adam Kadmon (Left)||???||Councillor||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||20|
- Maruki's Palace takes motifs from the Sefirot or the tree of life, as opposed to the Qliphoth that the Depths of Mementos represents. In Kabbalistic tradition, the Sefirot is the channel where God emanates His will through the person. The final form of Maruki's Persona is also Adam Kadmon, which is considered the Cosmic Man and the combination of all ten Sefirot as one. This ties to how Maruki is actually enlightened by the will of the people and used it to the benefit of people, even if it's a distorted version of benefit, as opposed to how Yaldabaoth impersonates God and enforces its own view of humanity (that they desire eternal suffering and apathy) upon the general public. It should also be noted that much unlike normal Judeo-Christianity where no mortal may become equal to or surpass god, Kabbalah does allow a person to reach the enlightenment of God, referencing how Maruki is an ordinary human who has reached godlike status by succeeding the Grail's position.
- If one pays attention, the floor plan of the lower levels of Maruki's Palace vaguely resembles an upside down version of the Qliphoth World's map. The layout of Psientific Model Eden also vaguely resembles the Shrine of the Grail, albeit scaled upwards instead of downwards.
- The entrance area of Maruki's Palace is an incredibly tall elevator shaft leading to the Entrance Hall, which appears to be midway into the structure. This is probably a reference to the Malkuth sphere of the Sefirot, which leads to the other Sephirah above it.
- This Palace has the longest clear deadline in the entire game, at 30 days total. However, there are only 21 free days prior to the deadline.
- Despite Maruki's Palace being based on a heavenly paradise, the Shadows within are associated with death, evil, heresy and/or fairy-tales. Inversely its owner is an altruistic man with a Lovecraftian Persona. This contrasts the Depths of Mementos and Qliphoth World, which is based on purgatory and resembles a hellish prison, but contains Shadows taking the form of angels and well-respected/feared deities, with its owner being a wicked Shadow of God.
- This Palace bears similarities to the musical dungeon of Persona Q2, as they are heavily associated with toxic escapism and false happiness, are the largest dungeons in their respective games, contain recordings of how their hosts became distorted, and have their true names hidden until later.
- The Palace's exterior slightly resembles the Mother Computer's body.
- If the party has not encountered the Palace owner yet, its security meter portrait is merely a silhouette of a nondescript black humanoid figure. This is because unlike other Palaces, the ruler is not known immediately upon entry.
- The deadline of this Palace falls on the same date as Rumi's birthday.
- This is the only Palace to not be ruled by the ruler's Shadow Self, but the actual person; in this case, Maruki himself.
- The distortions this Palace manifests is also similar to a Jail from the game's sequel, as it forcefully traps a large portion of the population, albeit only specific people, in an illusion of happiness and is overlaid into the real world's Tokyo instead of a personalized space like other Palaces, and were created out of a genuinely altruistic intent. However, unlike the Jails (which never got the chance to overwrite the fabric of reality), the reality Maruki creates is able to affect the entire world, and his distortions will replace the true reality on February 3rd, if he was left unstopped, no longer being illusions.
- Maruki was unaware of the concept of a Palace until Akechi explained it.
- The reveal of Maruki's involvement in the ideal reality was different during its concept phase. The scene starts with the image of a parade being shown instead of Kasumi standing on the podium, followed by Maruki announcing "the event" before exposing himself. Instead of showing the party Kasumi's death, Maruki also has multiple screens behind him, indicating that he wishes to display something else as well. The scene is largely unfinished, namely the parade being represented by a large, white block, the Hastur Shadow behind Maruki being replaced with a stock model, and Maruki only using his neutral portraits when talking with the trio.
- A discussion between Akechi, Joker and Kasumi about clues to the Palace ruler was made for one of the dead end rooms of the Entrance Hall, with Kasumi displaying the first signs of relapsing (migraines) after Akechi and Joker leave.
- The exploration of January 12 was intended to end with Sumire awakening in the Monitoring Room instead of much earlier. The fatigue from her awakening was also going to be what caused the investigation to end prematurely, rather than the blockage in Mementos.
- There exists a different scene of Akechi and Joker leaving the Palace on January 2 to discuss their plans.
- At one point, Sumire had to force herself to watch the flashback about her and Maruki, despite Makoto and Akechi's objections. It also visibly causes her discomfort, unlike during the final version where she watches it without problems.
- An extra flashback occurs within Psientific Model Eden, instead of right below it. It is merely a voice recording featuring Maruki speaking with an unknown man. This cutscene is heavily unfinished, and the texture of the grass on top of the panel where the recording was in was still in a crude state.
- After sending the calling card and ascending the staircase in Psientific Model Eden to Maruki's boss chamber, a flashback occurs again, this time with Maruki visibly talking to an unknown man. Just like the scene above, it is heavily unfinished; the staircase leading to the center of Eden is not visible, Maruki uses his default attire and the unknown man uses a placeholder model.
During any of the scenes involving flashbacks, they appear to have the thieves physically within the memories, rather than simply watching, and when the memories are over, the area emits a blinding light, often forcing the Thieves to retreat. This is different from the final version where the flashbacks only took the form of VHS tapes with both visual and auditory recordings and are completely harmless.