Persona 4 Golden is a reasonably well-covered recreation 15 years after the unique launch. It’s unlikely that this assessment is the primary time you’re listening to about it, and there’s an honest probability you realize its fame as one of the crucial beloved entries within the franchise. Nevertheless it’s been a decade since Golden was first launched for the PS Vita. Occasions have modified, tastes have modified, hairstyles have modified, and the collection has developed. A brand new port to fashionable consoles begs the query: does Persona 4 Golden maintain up? And does the model convey a lot new to the desk?
Let’s hit the excessive factors for these of you who haven’t heard of Persona 4. Persona 4 Golden is a mix JRPG and life simulation recreation the place you’ll break up your time between exploring dungeons to resolve a collection of murders and spending high quality time with buddies, changing into a extra well-rounded particular person. These two halves intertwine, with the progress you make within the dungeons serving to to unlock new social hyperlinks with folks all through the city of Inaba and quest traces in the true world, whereas growing mentioned social hyperlinks results in boons in battle and whereas fusing the titular personas.
These spirits are based mostly on a wealth of mythological and spiritual icons. Whereas every occasion member has just one persona at a time, dictated by the story, your principal character is one thing of a clean slate. He can maintain quite a lot of personas in his thoughts and change between them freely, fusing much less helpful personas into extra highly effective ones commonly all through the sport. Personas dictate your characters’ battle strengths, weaknesses, and skills, making fusing and enhancing these mythological beings important to success.
As a result of in the end, whereas the sport isn’t terribly arduous (and has a number of customizable issue settings), some thought is concerned. Bosses can vary from steamroll straightforward to seemingly not possible relying on whether or not you may have an excellent persona ready for the problem, particularly when contemplating elemental strengths and weaknesses. Provided that hitting a weak spot grants further turns and alternatives to deal important injury, they’re key to your victories.
The dungeons themselves have sadly aged lower than gracefully. The plain, building-block-style dungeons have been nothing to jot down dwelling about again within the PS2 period, however now that the latest entry within the collection has extra thought-out, constructed dungeons, going again to countless randomized hallways could be much less inspiring. They do the job, appearing as gateways to attention-grabbing battles and granting a little bit of gameplay between stellar plot beats, however in 2023 they undoubtedly present their age.
Whereas there are some occasional clunky bits within the gameplay, the story and characters have held up fantastically. These components are arguably the primary draw right here, and so they stay each bit as charming as they did in 2008. By the point you end the story, it’s arduous to not really feel genuinely unhappy about leaving the solid behind. With a playtime that may simply prime 100 hours, the connections you make with these buddies really feel actual, and this pal group looks like one you’ve genuinely made for your self. The truth is, the solid stays my all-time favourite from a collection with some noteworthily superb casts. They carry weight all through the lengthy story, which additionally holds up as among the best the collection has to supply.
The mysterious murders that your crew got down to resolve are tantalizing, providing a weird homicide technique and no straightforward leads on motive. You’ll chase fairly just a few pink herrings earlier than you get it proper, and the characters who’re put in peril typically hit near dwelling to your character and might make you’re feeling extremely motivated to save lots of everybody you may.
Despite the fact that you’ll discover just a few high quality of life quirks, nothing stops the sport from feeling playable and, extra importantly, bingeable. However that holds true of the unique Persona 4 Golden launch on the Vita, and to the later port on PC. So what does this new model convey to the desk?
Whereas the enhancements introduced by this model aren’t recreation changers, they make the sport simpler to play than ever, and extra accessible with its presence on all main platforms. The sport seems to be a bit higher, after all, particularly concerning the buttery easy framerate. That is solely damage by the odd motion blur on characters, which may obscure the brand new framerate. This impact has been current on all earlier variations of the video games and appears to be a stylistic selection, but it surely held up higher on PS2 than it does on a contemporary console. The sport completely seems to be the very best it ever has, but it surely’s not such an enchancment that it’ll blow anybody out of the water.
However a prettier look isn’t crucial change. That title goes to a model new quicksave system, permitting you to take a break in the course of a dungeon run and return later. That is an absolute lifesaver for these with out longer uninterrupted gaming instances, or these like me who have to rush off to assist youngsters on a dime. The period of time between saves within the unique model was at PS2 requirements, which could be tough for right now’s older crowd, which is extra used to common autosaves.
A brand new issue setting system additionally ranges out the expertise for all gamers, permitting you to tweak particular person settings from injury taken and given to the expertise and cash earned. The power to maneuver every individually is fantastic, as you may preserve the unique expertise and simply minimize out a little bit of the grind by toggling just a few choices. Or you may plug every part in as little as doable and stroll by the fight to expertise the fantastic story by itself.
No matter the way you play the sport, the auditory expertise will carry you thru. The voice appearing is a deal with, with top-tier voice expertise bringing out the depth of a different and distinctive solid. Nevertheless it’s not the voice appearing that basically units the Persona video games’ audio aside. Persona is all in regards to the music, and Persona 4 Golden is not any totally different. Whereas its predecessor, Persona 3, leaned on hip hop and Persona 5 famously invented acid jazz, Persona 4 gives a mixture of pop and dance music blended with a ton of brass and synthesizer to make the soundtrack really feel like a cohesive entire. It’s extremely danceable, which is an efficient approach to maintain lively in your seat throughout the dozens of hours the sport will maintain you busy.
Persona 4 Golden is a tremendous port of a tremendous recreation, however one shadow nonetheless looms massive over just a few elements: the collection appears incapable of dealing with LGBTQIA+ themes with respect. With out going too deep into spoiler territory, two of your occasion members current fairly strongly as homosexual and non-cis, respectively. It’s not lengthy earlier than each are confirmed to be straight and cis. Whereas this by itself may very well be dealt with nicely sufficient, it’s not lengthy earlier than the remainder of the solid ridicules anybody making the unique assumption. Homosexual panic runs rampant for one character, whereas the opposite is handled much less significantly after their delivery gender is revealed. It’s a bummer to run into in the course of the sport, and whereas it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker for many, it’s arduous to not want for higher.
However don’t let any of this cease you. Persona 4 Golden is a implausible recreation, and this launch is one of the best ways to play it. The characters are loveable, the story is driving, and your entire recreation is difficult to place down till you’ve absorbed all of it. Persona 4 Golden would possibly simply be the apex of the collection up to now, and actually, don’t you deserve one thing good for your self?