I've only played 5 and a little bit of 4, from what I've heard everything pre-4 is very user-unfriendly, kind of tedious, and weirdly nasty in difficulty besides. I don't know much, though. "The way the timeline thing works out, there's no fast way through the game. Sort of a back and forth between bland high school drama and grindy rpg dungeon crawling." is accurate - there is no "fast way" through the game other than using skip on every single cutscene, which fortunately the game does allow you to do! However, it's not very grindy. If you play it like I do, you tend to clear dungeons in one or two in-game days, and the game's calendar is completely immutable - the same events have deadlines on the same days no matter when you choose to actually clear the dungeons, you just have more "free time" if you do the dungeons all in one long go in one day. Basically every day is blocked into daytime/evening activity slots. For each slot, you can choose to hang out with people (basically, watch cutscenes that might result in improving "bonds" with other characters, which occasionally gives you bonuses for combat/dungeons/persona creation), go to a dungeon, or do activities to raise your "social stats" (many of these are also basically just watching cutscenes, some of them are more interactive, especially in P5 Royal with darts added). A lot of character bond events are gated behind your social stats being at a certain level. There's a ton of planning and different ways to play the game, but if you're a completist paranoiac like me, you want to make sure you maximize every unit of time until everything's maxed. The game has the same number of available time slots no matter what, so trying to do dungeons as infrequently as possible and clear them in a single session is always ideal, or else you have a very, very slow-motion countdown to failure if you hit the end of all available timeslots and did a bad job of increasing social stats/bonds with characters. I think you could probably still beat the game without getting all the bonuses from personal bonds, but it would be a lot more difficult. It's really not as "grindy" in a typical sense as most RPGs. I did ONE long grind session after reading that the spaceport boss was insanely difficult in P5 Royal, but before and after that I pretty much just did beelines for my objectives and killed enemies I happened upon incidently and have been fine. Oh, and grinding becomes an absolute joke once you're around level 50 - my last run through Mementos (the game-long dungeon that's basically only for "sidequests") consisted of just speeding everywhere in a van and running over/insta-killing every single enemy, getting several levels of experience without once having to see a combat screen.