Everyone got to experience Persona 4 on the PlayStation 2 in early 2009. It was considered by many to be one of the greatest RPG’s around at the time and there was great reason for it. The story was one of the best and kept you playing from start till finish, the characters were very interesting, and the gameplay was ahead of its time and can still be remembered as being one of the best on the PlayStation 2. Persona 4 has now been brought to the PlayStation Vita under the Persona 4 Golden name and is looking better than it ever has. The port does add a couple of new elements but thankfully does not change anything that made the game so great on the PlayStation 2. So with the new elements introduced and the great gameplay, characters and story still there it just makes us want to play it over and over again.

You play as a high school student in modern day Japan whose parents have just left town and they send you to your uncles and cousins who live in the countryside. Once you get there many murders and very wired supernatural events begin taking place all around you. You and your friends soon learn that it is the TV’s around the town causing the chaos as they are broadcasting a supernatural show that is controlling the minds of the townsfolk. Now you have found out what is causing this destruction you try and tap into the supernatural force, with the ultimate goal being to stop the mass murdering and to get to the bottom of what is happening.

Persona 4 Golden stands out on it’s approach to the user experience as the combat does not make the story advance like most western RPG’s. However Persona 4 Golden still has a satisfying amount of combat elements, but this time it also has a more inter-personal element that demands your attention throughout the entire game. There is the usual timeline element that is in most classic Japanese RPG’s, however the western audiences don’t usually receive it that well. However in Persona 4 Golden there is a balance that makes the game interesting and engaging throughout, while still keeping you up to date with the timeline of events.

The timeline has to be there for one to understand the game fully and it also affects how successful you are when playing. The timeline starts when you show up at your uncle’s house and ends when the school year is finished. As you continue through the timeline, you will see patterns and deadlines appear. The events range from personal dates to events reporting on the strange killings that are happening. To be successful in the game you have to keep yourself on top of the every event as they are of equal importance to get the best ending that is possible in the game. This timeline makes the games flow at a fast and frantic moving pace and never makes feel like the game is leaving you behind. You will always know how much time is left for each event and what still needs to be done to complete said event.


Persona 4 Golden Combat


Keeping track of events is not the only thing you have to do as there are many chances to gain extra bonuses by using social links. This can be done by spending time with your friends or interacting with anyone in general, you can earn extra boosts to your stats, which can (and do) help greatly in many fights and sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Social links is a feature that allows you to merge persona’s with other people to summon more dangerous and powerful attacks. If you create social links with your teammates there are even more added bonuses such as new skills and stat modifications. This system is very important partner to the combat system and makes you plan out how to use any free time in the game. This system may not appeal to everyone since most people just want to progress the story and fight the bad guys, however if you skip straight to the combat you would be missing out on the whole feel of the game.

All of the characters in the game are engaging in their own way and offer loads of diversions which can be very welcoming at times. There are even genuine moments of friendship between the many characters. Storytelling like this is rarely ever seen in modern gaming and this is what makes Persona 4 so interesting as you want to find out what happens to the characters. Having that feeling of complete attachment makes this an amazing game.

A lot of time will be spent building relationships with your classmates; however you will also spend loads of time in the TV world. This is where you will explore all the dungeons you can fight through. Persona 4 Golden should be appealing to most RPG fans as it uses a turn-based RPG system like the old style of Final Fantasy games. There is also a system in place where if you attack your opponent’s natural weakness, this can earn you extra turns and deal extra damage.

Persona 4 Golden Exploration

The elemental system is not the only system in place as there is obviously the persona system. Each character has their own unique persona available to them. The lead character has the ability to change into different persona’s in the game, which other characters cannot do. If you chose a different persona your main persona will still gain experience from the battles you take place in which makes it stay as powerful as your character is. This system allows you to choose which persona will be best for the situation you are faced with. After playing the game for a while your persona will eventually become maxed out. However this opens up a whole new area of levelling up your persona’s. At this point you will be able to combine two persona’s together to make even stronger and more flexible persona’s. If you plan ahead and make the right skill selection and proper social links you will be able to form extremely powerful allies to join in battle with you.

Persona 4 was a great game to start with but this not just a mere port of the PlayStation 2 version as it does have a couple new features like skill cards. Skill Cards are hard to find items that are found throughout the world and give your persona’s new abilities which can help if you need to deal extra damage to your enemies. The cards can be easily applied to your persona’s and take effect right away. When you combine your persona’s all the skills on them go together onto the newly formed persona. On the PlayStation 2 the skills were more random and you were not always guaranteed to get the skill you wanted when combining your persona’s together, this has now been fixed. Also, they made the social links even more important as social links with certain characters will help you perform better attacks in battle. The cards system has been made a lot better and it now gives better cards after battles instead of random useless items like the PlayStation 2 version gave out. There is also an option to have your friends help you while playing by giving you health you have lost and skill points a lot quicker.

Persona 4 Golden Upgrade System

There are many other small improvements to the game. The biggest improvement is the time jump that previously allowed you to skip a big part of the game and gave you the ability to complete it faster. Persona 4 Golden removes this feature and gives you a lot of extra time to work on your social links, levelling up and just exploring the massive world. All this extra time is complemented with new characters, story elements and the new possible endings for the game. All the changes Atlus have implemented have made the game better but still kept the same core concept that made the original so good. If you are looking for a game that you can delve right into then this is not the game for you and this is where the one fault in the game is. The game takes several hours of exploration before it begins to open up and this may not be too big a problem for some but it also has a lot of build up before the story really starts and the game begins to shine.

Overall, Persona 4 Golden is a great JRPG. There is no need to play the other games in the series to be able to understand what the games is about and what it is trying to achieve. The story is very interesting and you will be playing the game for hours without even realizing so much time has passed. Persona 4 Golden may take a while to get started but with patience you will be treated to an experience that all JRPG gamers will appreciate. Even if you are not a fan of JRPG’s or have never played them then this is certainly the best JRPG you could jump into.

PROS

  • Gripping Story
  • Classic Combat
  • Loads of Content

CONS

  • Long Introduction
  • Graphics not Improved much

Thanks to NIS America for the Review copy of Persona 4: Golden