Persona 4: Golden Review

persona4golden_3
What we liked:
+ Improved visuals
+ Incredible, well written storyline
+ Deep gameplay
+ Outstanding voice acting and music
+ Cool special features
What we didn't like:
- Stages are very plain
Classic
DEVELOPER: Atlus   |   PUBLISHER: Atlus   |   RELEASE: 11/20/2012

Review
The best just keeps getting better.

Being a fan of role-playing games, I have always enjoyed their variety of storytelling. Some games can make you feel like you are in a fantastic world of dragons, castles and magic. Other games take you to worlds of androids, space exploration and intergalactic diplomacy. I love escapism, and I love it more when that escapism is put in the structure of a pen-and-paper RPG or video game. There are many types of RPGs I have played, and I appreciate the diversity of ideas and new visions.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Japanese RPGs, perhaps due to the fact that Dragon Warrior on the NES was the first video RPG that I ever played. I’ve consistently enjoyed the Persona series of JRPGs, and fan-favorite Atlus has once again brought to us a gaming gem that needs to be experienced by RPG fans: Persona 4 Golden for the Playstation Vita.

Persona 4 Golden for the PS Vita is a portable port of the original Playstation 2 version that came out in 2008. If you do not own a Vita now, you might want to think about getting one if the idea of a more than 100-hour JRPG set in modern Japan sounds cool to you.

The world of Persona 4 is set in a small town called Inaba, Japan. Your first order of business will be naming the lead character of the game, a silent protagonist who comes from the big city. When you arrive in Inaba, you get to stay with your uncle, a detective who works for the police. Over the next few days, mysterious murders start to occur, and the corpses are found hanging disturbingly from TV antennas or atop telephone poles. Your lead character attends school and begins to meet many new students. Some will become good friends and will take part in an epic horror story that breaks the traditional bonds of horror and mysteries. If Persona 4 were a book, it would be a page turner like no other; it is a tour de force of video game storytelling.

Once you have experienced some of the world and characters of Persona 4, the gameplay kicks in. Now, if this were any other game, two and a half hours of story at the very start of the game would be a major turn-off. However, the story is so well-told and the characters so awesome that it keeps you engaged even when you’re not battling shadows. Speaking of battles, Persona 4 has plenty. The system is turn-based and can be both deep and simple at the same time. The default game setting has you controlling only the lead hero, but you have the option to manually control the decisions of the other combatants as well.

Besides using your characters’ equipped weapons, the main way that you fight is by using the Personas. The Personas are entities that exist within the subconscious of all human beings. Personas are said to be your true self and a great source of power. You will use your persona to do magical attacks, heal you and your friends, and deal out various status effects.

Panic at the disco.


There are many layers of gameplay in Persona 4 besides just fighting creatures. The overall structure to the game and story takes place within a calendar. Time is always advancing and decisions must be made on a daily basis. You attend school during the day and advance the storyline while making dialog decisions and strengthening your Social-Links. Social-Links are story elements that strengthen your bond with other students or characters. These bonds will also give you many kinds of advantages in battle depending on what kind of Persona you are you using at the moment.

I think that one of the greatest strengths of Persona 4 is the localization. Firstly, the writing in this is game is incredible in that the world and characters feel very real, and much of that reality is masterfully created by the voice actors. The voice acting is some the very best that you’ll find in a video game; I felt that I knew the characters and would actually feel and care for them. The people that brought these characters to life did a fantastic job, and I look forward to their future endeavors.

Needless to say, Persona 4 Golden is a must buy for Vita owners. Large amounts of gameplay are wrapped in the shroud of an incredibly deep story. It touches on death, murder, other dimensions, moral ambiguity, suicide, celebrities, media exploits and even corporate greed via major department stores; this game has it all. I feel that Persona 4 Golden is a very fitting title; this game truly is golden.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Screenshots

Jason Gambrel

If you don't know Gambus, you are not paying attention. Gambus is unstoppable, he is one, he IS the internets. Greetings programs...

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  • Jake

    Nice review! I’ve been waiting for this game ever since it was announced!

  • Pingback: Persona 4: Golden Review | ZTGD: Play Games, Not Consoles | Game Review Guide

  • http://twitter.com/REMGS Matthew Quinn

    Haven’t played the Vita version, but Persona 4 is one of my absolute all time favorites. Glad to see the Vita version does nothing to ruin it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/saminseattle Sam Timlick

    Great review, Gambus! I’ve been looking for some sort of RPG to play on the Vita and am debating between Ragnarok and P4:G. I’ve never played a persona game before, though. How necessary is it that I play the others? I’d love to get P4:G; I can’t miss out on an incredibly deep story (so I hear), but I’d rather pick it up later and just get Ragnarok to tide me over if I have to play its predecessors first…

    • cutoffslim

      Noooooooo!!! Dont waste your money on Ragnarok please!!! I bought it and its horrible and repeats the same enemies while changing only in color. The online co op is soooo bad that you can barely finish a quest. I recommend saving some money and trying Persona 3 from the PSP because it’ll give you a feel of how 4 would be. Plus its a wonderful game. None of the stories are connected, just the classes of Personas and the fact that you go to school! In my opinion, its the best RPG series going!

      • http://www.facebook.com/saminseattle Sam Timlick

        Yeah, i really wish Ragnarok had a demo,like the n4g crew said on the cast this week. but I’ll take your word for it until I can play it myself without having to pay for it. Would it be bad to just go straight to P4G then? or is 3 really necessary/would I get a lot more out of 4 if I played 3 first?

        • http://www.facebook.com/alec.vaughan.7 Alec Vaughan

          there is a demo out for Ragnarok out now. Its OK. not great. i really wish the new YS game gets localized bc its by xseed and ys 7 is one of my favorite games

  • NightmareFD3S

    I just recently finshed my first play-thru of my PS2 copy that i bought back in 2010 and the game is indeed awesome! And you ain’t joking when you mention a 100Hr RPG, it felt considerably longer than Persona 3 for some reason. Though I don’t think its quite as epic as Persona 3(maybe cuz it lacks Mitsuru for me!) which felt like a breath-of-fresh air at the time. Still P4 is a fantastic game in its own right, and I can hardly believe I let it sit there for 2 plus years without so much as removing the shrink wrap. I’ve been getting my Persona 4 fix alot lately with the animated version & P4 Arena!

    This PS Vita version looks good but damn it had to a be on a hand-held, i wish they would release a downloadable PS3 version via the PS store. Maybe i’ll get a Vita when it gets a price drop, along with Golden, & then never play it as my 2 year old MG edition PSP can attest!

    I really loved Catherine so it’ll be interesting to see in what direction Atlus takes P5 and if they actually release it on current gen consoles or on next-gen systems.

  • mmillajovovich

    If you think Leslie`s story is inconceivable,, in the last month my cousin’s step-mum basically easily made $5887 just sitting there fifteen hours a week from there apartment and their neighbor’s mom`s neighbour has done this for 7-months and earnt over $5887 parttime on line. the tips here… FLY38.ℂOM