Persona 4 Golden

Extended Review

There is so much to talk about yet so little I wish to reveal story wise. Either way there is still plenty to discuss regarding the gameplay aspect so read on for an extended review below.

Persona 4 Golden is often said to be one of the best RPG experiences available on the PlayStation Vita. Despite having no experience with the series, I decided to pick up the game a few months back to find out if it was indeed as good as they say. Now it is worth noting that Persona 4 was originally a PlayStation 2 title that released in December 2008. Golden is actually an enhanced remake with new content on top of several tweaks and improvements which make it the version to play. Having said that the new content simply isn’t enough to warrant a return unless you already intended to re-play the game in the first place.

The main attraction for Persona 4 is the long story and deep characters you will be encountering throughout the game. I met well over a dozen characters throughout my playthrough and I learned so much about every single one of them. The game does an exceptional job at introducing new characters at appropriate times to not overwhelm you with knowledge and at the same time it paces what you learn about each character as well. One of the major gameplay components is to spend time with several main characters to learn more about them and increase what they call a social link as you get closer to them, this has a lot of impact throughout the game and it gives you a much better understanding of each character.

As previously mentioned the story is another major component that is universally praised in Persona 4. Save for the beginning of the game I will spare any details as you really should experience it from start to end without knowing anything going into it. The initial premise is that the main characters parents will need to work out of the country for the next year and as such he will be moving to a small town called Inaba where he will reside with his uncle and cousin. Of course being a high school student this means he will be attending a new high school for that year which makes meeting new characters very convenient story wise. Beyond that point the majority of the story revolves around a mystery that begins to unfold as you begin pursuing the answer.

On the gameplay side of things Persona 4 is quite interesting. The gameplay is split in two where half of the time is spent passively going through the day to day process while the other will be spent doing combat inside the TV world. The game will go through a calendar year on a day to day basis with most days requiring you to choose an activity that will progress you to the evening. For most days I found myself either hanging out with other characters to progress the social link or working a job for money and stat increases. The evening has a few activity options as well but none of them delve deeper into the story or gameplay. Once I learned the flow of the day to day activities it rather quickly became a routine where I would try to complete whatever goals I set up for myself which typically took a few days each.

Fortunately after a couple hours of the daily grind I found myself always needing to jump back into the TV world where I would spend a couple more hours dungeon crawling and fighting various shadows. Like the day to day stuff, exploration and combat quickly becomes a breeze where I just went through the same motions a couple dozen times per floor until a boss showed up. At first combat can be a bit tough as characters tend to weak in every regard forcing the use of regular attacks and defense. In short time characters will develop to the point where abilities are exclusively used throughout every battle. This greatly speeds up the process as abilities will target one of eight attributes found throughout the game. If you hit an enemy’s weak attribute they will get knocked down allowing that character another attack, this quickly becomes a game of chaining up knockdowns which end up finishing most battles in short time.. Luckily the boss battles will require a bit more thought and planning at first but it rather quickly devolves into a similar grind of going through the motions again. While not especially exciting or taxing, the combat still does serve a purpose which is to provide a bit of relief from the story and day to day grind and I quite appreciate it for those reasons.

In the end Persona 4 Golden is a rather interesting game. The daily process and TV world become this long routine where time goes by until another checkpoint is hit which allows the story to progress once again. But at the same time that very process nicely compliments the fantastic story and characters which is absolutely worth playing for on its own. Considering the game is technically 8 years old now if we look at the original Japanese release date, it certainly has stood the test of time as well. If you enjoy RPG’s or story driven games, Persona 4 should definitely be considered as afterall I have yet to play anything quite like it.

 Score 8 Large – The Verdict

Plus – The Good

  • Amazingly fun story combined with a host of deep and interesting characters.
  • Nicely paced game from start to end.
  • Despite being 7 years old it still plays great and feels fresh.

Minus – The Bad

  • Lacking strategic depth makes battles very simple and bland.
  • There is a fair amount of repetition regarding the soundtrack.
  • What is with the crappy motion blur?

Full disclosure

  • Play time: 77h 46m – Save File.

  • Completion: Completed story.

  • Version: Latest.

  • Platform: PlayStation Vita.

  • Acquisition: PSN – 12.00$ CAD.