Persona 4: Golden - Review



Introduction

I have always wanted to play a Persona game. So, when Atlus brought Persona 4 to Steam, I was excited beyond belief that I could finally have the opportunity to play one! I was treated with a fun combat system, an engaging story, and wonderfully crafted characters that made me emotional in the end. There is a lot to do, but it’s up to you on what you want to experience in Inaba. The game will play out in a murder mystery style of gameplay as its main focus. Also, you don’t need to play any of the other Persona games, you can jump straight into this one.


Pros and Cons

Pros:

- A fantastic story that proves emotional with well-written characters

- Combat feels very engaging and fun with offensive and defensive spells/attacks

- Lots of activities to do in Inaba

- The soundtrack is really catchy


Cons:

- To get the best ending, you have to max out Marie’s Social Link, and she is not a well-written character

- Investigations can get quite confusing, as you have to go around and ask certain NPCs who are only available on certain days

- The 3D human character models are the original PS2 ones, and they haven’t aged very well



Story

The story takes place in the year 2011. The protagonist is being sent to a town called Inaba because his parents are working overseas. He moves in with his uncle Ryotaro Dojima and his younger cousin Nanako. While at his new high school, he becomes friends with Chie Satonaka, Yukiko Amagi, and Yosuke Hanamura. The peaceful town is dealing with some bizarre murder cases and it seems to be related to The Midnight Channel, so one rainy night, he decided to look at the TV and saw a strange figure, then he decided to enter the screen only to find himself in another dimension. The protagonist also has a dream where he is taught how to summon a Persona, however, he also has a special ability called the Wild Card which gives him the ability to summon multiple Personas.


Now, that’s only scratching the surface of what Persona 4 has to offer in terms of story. It’s well written, full of mystery and suspense that’s going to keep you invested. However, the story does have some moments where it’s not serious and has humor. There are quite a few characters that are really memorable in the game, and they each have their own unique traits. My two personal favorites had to be Yosuke, as he was clumsy as well as awkward, and Naoto Shirogane, who is a detective, while being a mysterious kind of character.


Now, some characters however, are not as good as the main cast and a good example is, Marie, who is a character that is exclusive to Persona 4 Golden. The reason I bring her up is that to get the best ending in the game, you will have to max out her Social Link. Marie has no memory of who she is or why she even exists, so it’s your job to try and get her to remember things. The problem with her is that her role is to be standoffish to everyone so she comes off as aggressive while being one dimensional.



Gameplay

Persona 4 is a turn based-RPG, and you will be fighting enemies known as Shadows. These enemies will have certain elemental strengths and weaknesses that you can use to take them out more easily. The party members that you will get will have a certain element that is associated with them, like having wind, ice, or fire just to name a few. You will be using your Personas in combat to cast spells and you can do a normal attack with your characters.


At the end of each battle, you will be rewarded with experience points to level up your character. At the end of a dungeon, you will fight a boss; these bosses aren’t really a challenge and are mostly sponges, but the later ones can get a little tricky.


Once you have completed a dungeon, you can revisit to fight an optional boss to get some extra goodies. Combat is rather fun and is really smooth, definitely something that has aged very well. Also, one of the enemies you fight is literally an army tank, so that should pique some interest.



After you are finished with some battles, you may get an event known as Shuffle Time. This event will show you a list of cards which you can only choose one. These cards can give you bonuses like extra money or EXP. You can also get your hands on Suit of Swords. These will give you Skill Cards which will teach a skill for your Persona. The power will depend on the value of the card. You can also get a card that has a negative effect; however, you can pick more cards if you choose to pick the negative affect adding another strategic element to your choices.


The only issue I really came across in the gameplay was when it came to the investigations. There will be certain points in the game where you will have to find some information about certain people before entering a dungeon. The main issue here is that some NPCs will only appear on certain days. Especially on the fifth investigation, where you have to ask certain people in a specific order.


Past Times/Social Links

When school is done or it’s during the day, you will have the chance to hang out with your friends. They will have their very own Social Link with which they can learn new moves while hanging out with you. Certain characters have a corresponding Arcana Tarot Card; these can be used to get EXP bonuses for other Personas that you can use. If you get one of your party members’ Social Link maxed, their Persona will evolve and become stronger.


Graphics and Performance

The port of Persona 4 is really solid. I experienced no issues whatsoever; everything worked fine. It runs at 60 FPS, and it may feel weird to someone who played the original on the PS2, as that one runs at 30FPS. All the enemies and Personas are fully animated and look amazing; they have aged very well. The 3D human models however have not and are very hard to look at, with animations not looking good either. Now, the 2D sprites on the characters, are well done, the art style used for them has aged well. I tested it with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB, AMD Ryzen 5 1500X Quad-Core Processor 3.50, and16 GB of RAM storage.



Soundtrack

Man, I love the soundtrack of Persona 4 Golden. The battle theme was great. Boss battles also had a nice ring to them. There was never a song that I did not like listening to, each felt and sounded different. Choosing my favorite was really hard. However, I will give it out to Snowflakes, as it takes place in the winter time and I just loved listening to it. The song was sung by Shihoko Hirata.


Final Verdict

Persona 4 Golden is an interesting experience. I have never played an RPG quite like this and every second was amazing. When it was all over, I just wanted to play more of it to experience everything all over again. The game has a ton of replay value as there is so much to do in it. As a result, a single playthrough is not enough, as Persona 4 has a lot offer. Honestly, this was an experience worth remembering, and anyone that wants to start out with a Persona game or RPGs, in general, needs to look no further than this one. Also, For the current price of 23.99 CDN, with 50-70 hours of content, it is well worth the full price.



Steam Store Page


My Steam Review