Persona 4 Golden Evaluation – Keep Golden


A top-tier role-playing recreation is mostly a finely crafted concoction of a number of substances: an attention-grabbing setting, a fascinating story, satisfying characters and interactions, and gameplay that makes your interplay with all the aforementioned parts really feel significant and worthwhile. When all of those particular person elements are developed to excessive requirements, the result’s an RPG of remarkable quality–and that’s precisely what Persona 4 Golden is.

This re-release of 2008’s glorious PlayStation 2 recreation takes place in modern-day Japan. The protagonist is a highschool scholar from an enormous metropolis whose dad and mom have been despatched away on enterprise. They ship him to dwell for a 12 months along with his uncle–a police investigator–and his younger cousin in a small countryside city. Nearly instantly upon the hero’s arrival, unusual issues start to occur on this in any other case boring little hamlet: a string of individuals flip up lifeless, and rumor spreads of a supernatural tv broadcast that reveals weird programming. The hero and a crew of his newfound classmates quickly uncover a horrible secret: there is a separate world throughout the televisions that twists human wishes and hidden emotions in probably deadly methods, and it is by some means tied to the serial killings. It is as much as the group of buddies to harness the supernatural energy of personas, put a cease to the sinister killing spree, and decipher the secrets and techniques behind the TV world.

The up to date, real-world-inspired setting of Persona 4 is already a wonderful conceit within the closely fantasy- and sci-fi-driven world of RPGs. However it’s removed from the one ingredient that units the sport aside from the crop. Not like most RPGs, Persona 4 operates on one thing of a time restrict. From the day you arrive within the nation village of Inaba till the day the varsity 12 months ends, you advance by means of the sport on a calendar. Dates and deadlines are crucial; not solely do you might have necessary occasions at school and in your private life to cope with, however you additionally uncover that the serial killings observe a selected time sample. It’s worthwhile to discover and rescue potential victims from the TV world earlier than they’re killed–a process that normally takes a number of days to finish.

It might be straightforward in the event you might simply spend all of your days preventing, however Persona 4 additionally places heavy emphasis on interacting with different characters within the recreation. Every single day presents many alternatives for numerous noncombative actions, be it college golf equipment, hobbies at residence, working part-time jobs for additional spending cash, or simply hanging out with friends needing pleasant help. Spending time on these actions advantages you in numerous methods: some increase your skills, some earn you objects and cash, and nonetheless others enhance your connections with different characters.

Some decisions may even provide a number of advantages. By far probably the most profitable are the connections with non-player characters, known as “social hyperlinks.” By forming friendships and help networks with numerous characters, you create {powerful} personas to make use of throughout fight. (Some social hyperlinks, corresponding to these together with your celebration members, additionally provide further fight advantages and abilities.) Thus, selecting easy methods to spend your restricted time every day turns into a further problem with its personal dangers and rewards. In case you really feel indecisive, an in-game characteristic helps you to connect with a web-based database to see how different gamers selected to spend that day.

Although social hyperlinks pose a fascinating puzzle, they woudn’t be almost as attention-grabbing if the NPCs concerned weren’t partaking, memorable characters. This is among the methods Persona 4 shines, since interacting with the sport’s forged is satisfying and rewarding in itself. The characters you meet over the course of the sport are relatable and plausible, as are the struggles they undergo. The bonds you wind up forming with characters make the assorted interludes scattered all through the sport (corresponding to class journeys and group holidays) much more satisfying as breaks from a generally very heavy story. The standard of the sport’s writing and localization is a further triumph, skillfully delivering each laugh-out-loud moments and heart-wrenching plot twists.

The story and socialization parts are just one portion of the sport, nevertheless. You spend numerous time exploring the TV world, as nicely. As the sport progresses, the TV world expands to incorporate quite a few dungeons and monsters created from the darkish, repressed ideas of potential victims which were forged inside. Because the chief of your college buddies’ makeshift “investigation staff,” you and your friends discover these randomly generated dungeons, scouring them for treasures and infrequently fixing puzzles whereas looking for the kidnapped victims. Fight is conventional turn-based RPG preventing with a twist: each you and your foes can earn additional turns by exploiting one another’s elemental weak spot, a mechanic that fuels some devious methods and devastating assaults. (It is value noting that Persona 4 Golden is barely simpler than the unique recreation, so veterans searching for a problem might wish to choose a more durable issue setting when beginning a brand new recreation.)

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The idea of “personas”–supernatural representations of 1’s projected self–comes into play throughout fight. Personas include a set of strengths, weaknesses, and fight abilities, which may change and evolve because the personas stage up. Whereas your celebration members every have a set persona all through the sport, your lead character has the distinctive potential to remodel into many various personas throughout fight. This permits for extra fight technique, providing you with a method to choose personas best for exploiting enemy weaknesses whereas additionally working to guard your personal celebration. The principle character’s personas additionally achieve expertise and stage up independently of his base stage, normally being equal to or decrease than his personal.

Since ultimately personas study all the abilities they presumably can and taper off in stat development, it is advisable to discover the system of fusing personas to kind new, more-powerful personas in fight. This permits abilities from the personas used within the fusion to be handed alongside, and a few well-planned ability inheritance mixtures may end up in a potent new fight persona. Social hyperlinks additionally increase created personas with further expertise bonuses, permitting you to create a lot higher-level personas sometimes past your attain. Skillfully making a persona array to make use of in battle can typically imply the distinction between victory and defeat.

These numerous parts enhance an already-fantastic RPG expertise. However what makes Persona 4 Golden an much more spectacular bundle is how a lot additional content material has been packed into the sport over its unique launch. For starters, creating new personas through fusion is far simpler, as a result of the sport helps you to choose abilities to switch (moderately than randomly transferring abilities). You can too give personas particular skills by means of using uncommon objects known as “ability playing cards”–a callback to a number of the earlier Persona video games.

Your celebration members are additionally able to performing further skills throughout fight: relying on how excessive your social hyperlinks are together with your teammates, they will randomly treatment minor standing illnesses and carry out help attacks–even if they don’t seem to be within the at present lively celebration. Sure mixtures of celebration members also can carry out particular follow-up abilities after all-out assaults to deal additional harm to already weakened foes. The Shuffle Time card minigame after sure battles has been utterly redone, permitting for much less random likelihood and extra worthwhile bonuses. A community characteristic in dungeons rounds out the fight enhancements, permitting you to request assist from different P4G gamers linked to PSN to ship support within the type of well being and ability level restoration.

The enhancements go nicely past fight. Two new social links–including a brand-new feminine character named Marie–are out there to foster, and extra areas and alternatives for constructing different hyperlinks abound. You should buy seeds and have a tendency to a backyard at residence, utilizing the crops yielded as useful objects within the dungeons. You additionally earn a scooter in the course of the recreation, which you should use to journey to the seaside and a bigger metropolis for actions, procuring, and questing. Extra choices can be found to you in the course of the evenings, together with hanging out with buddies and a brand new job alternative working at a hostess bar. Lastly, many actions from the earlier recreation, corresponding to studying or working at residence within the evenings to enhance numerous stats, have been streamlined to be simpler to make use of and extra helpful.

However these aren’t even the most important additions to the sport. Within the unique launch of P4, there was a degree the place a major time skip occurred, transferring the sport’s calendar a number of months forward. In Persona 4 Golden, a lot of this time interval is made out there to you to play by means of, permitting you to additional construct social hyperlinks and interact with the characters and setting nicely past what you can earlier than. Some new story occasions can be found throughout this time, and a very new dungeon additionally opens up (supplied you have accomplished some conditions). The brand new story additions additionally permit for some vastly totally different endings.

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On prime of all the pieces are individually accessible in-game TV channels that supply a wide range of programming. When you unlock them, you possibly can freely entry archives of the assorted animation sequences seen within the recreation, design art work, and promotional supplies and music. There’s even a lesson on the Jungian psychology theories that kind the idea of the sport’s story, together with an interactive quiz-show collection that assessments your data of all the pieces associated to Persona 4.

As nice as Persona 4 Golden is, there are a couple of minor points. The sport nonetheless takes some time to get going: anticipate to expertise about two hours of plot setup and character introductions earlier than you are turned unfastened to benefit from the recreation at your personal tempo. The visible improve additionally feels a little bit missing: P4G’s PlayStation 2 roots present in its pretty basic-looking character fashions and environments and sometimes-blurry textures. The sport appears to be like like an HD remaster moderately than a full remake, leaving you feeling prefer it would not benefit from the platform’s graphical capabilities in addition to it ought to.

When it comes all the way down to it, nevertheless, any complaints that may be lobbied at Persona 4 Golden really feel insignificant when weighed in opposition to the standard of the remainder of the sport. Persona 4 stays some of the partaking, considerate, and satisfying RPGs of current years, having already earned its standing as a style traditional upon its unique launch. Persona 4 Golden’s well-thought-out and well-implemented augmentations serve to make an already implausible recreation even higher, leading to a superlative recreation expertise that belongs in any Vita recreation library.

Persona 4 Golden (2023)

When a implausible recreation finds itself wedged between two entries of an identical caliber, it all the time runs the unlucky threat of wanting a bit dimmer by comparability. Persona 3 is a macabre masterpiece–a hazy blue exploration of loss of life and easy methods to dwell life so purposefully you possibly can in the future hope to embrace it moderately than concern it. Persona 5, alternatively, exudes confidence and calls for motion moderately than somber meditation. It’s a recreation that doubles as a name for authenticity and the braveness to rebel–to stand your floor and resist merciless authoritarians. So, with two phenomenal titles resting gently on both facet of it, what does that imply for Persona 4 Golden?

As its identify implies, Persona 4 Golden stays completely radiant. Even in 2023–and up in opposition to the polish of modern-day titles and the nostalgia we connect to these older than it–it will not be solely an unimaginable entry within the Persona collection, however an unimaginable RPG. Persona 4 Golden’s intimate nature, charming forged of characters, and idyllic setting rigorously constructed to juxtapose its tense and horrific narrative, create an expertise that’s unforgettable and worthy of its vital acclaim.

As it is a temporary overview following Persona 4 Golden being ported to fashionable consoles, I will not regale you with all the identical data relating to plot particulars and mechanics you will discover in our 2012 overview. No main modifications have been made to the sport and the high-praise given to in our overview nonetheless stands. Nonetheless, 11 years seems like a adequate period of time to mirror on elements of the sport that deserved to be reexamined, for higher or worse.

Part of the sport that has aged extremely nicely and units Persona 4 Golden aside from its friends is its intimate scale. Whereas it would not really feel utterly correct to say that the sport’s stakes are considerably smaller–we’re nonetheless speaking alternate dimensions, gods, and homicide here–the rural setting and tendency for all motion, thriller, and tragedy to focus on core group of individuals makes each plot beat that a lot punchier. Moreover, whereas Persona 3 and Persona 5 current you as an outsider in an enormous metropolis, in Persona 4 you’re a metropolis boy welcomed right into a small city. Somewhat than subsiding on dorm meals or hurriedly consuming curry while being berated, you take pleasure in your meals with your loved ones and spend loads of high quality time across the kotatsu. Regardless of how eerie the sport will be and express with its violence, there’s a heat that permeates and gives consolation by means of the hardship.

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That is solely amplified by how implausible Persona 4 Golden’s characters and the moments you share with them. Whereas most RPGs have a couple of characters that really feel lackluster in comparison with the remainder of the celebration, Persona 4 has an exceptionally strong forged. Certain, you is perhaps a Teddy hater–I completely get it in the event you are–but total the characters within the recreation are extra fully-fleshed out and personable than the vast majority of video games on the market. By the point I rolled credit, I used to be heartbroken that the time I spent beside them had come to an finish. I needed extra animated cutscenes feeding me fan service. I longed to go to Junes with Nanako yet another time, or see Yoske lastly mature a bit and even perhaps ask Chie out on a date. I suppose all of it boils all the way down to, moderately than feeling such as you have been preventing to slot in or increase social hyperlinks to achieve a way of belonging, that sensation is baked proper into the sport’s DNA. It is a powerful feat that makes it among the many most charming of video games I’ve ever performed.

Nonetheless, even Persona 4 Golden’s charms do not reduce the affect of a number of the story beats that did not age fairly in addition to the remainder of the sport. Whereas Persona 4 is a recreation all about belonging and adolescents reckoning with their inner-self to develop into the individual they lengthy to be, each Kanji and Naoto’s storylines go in opposition to this premise and do not fairly make sense. All through the sport, Kanji discovers he feels attraction in the direction of males whereas Naoto repeatedly expresses his want to current himself as a person. Nonetheless, each Kanji’s sexuality and Naoto’s identification are finally written off as momentary emotions they skilled as a result of of–wait for it–women.

Kanji states he noticed males in a sexual gentle as a result of he seen girls as overly vital, whereas Naoto reveals he chooses to current male as a result of girls do not fall according to his notion of a cool and aloof detective. Whereas these are probably the most prevalent circumstances of Persona 4 dismissing or outright laughing off its alternatives to discover queer identities, the sport additionally options a number of further cases of homophobic and sexist language. Whereas we might chalk this all as much as tradition or name Persona 4 Golden a mirrored image of the instances, these conditions finally bitter the sport’s total experience–especially when you think about how harshly they conflict in opposition to Persona 4’s message of acceptance and its kindhearted characters.

Transferring on from the sport’s setting and characters, nevertheless, I do discover a couple of areas the place I really assume extra reward is so as. For instance, I imagine that criticism in our unique overview in the direction of the sport’s artwork and gradual begin do not ring fairly as true to me. I recognize how ornate locations really feel in Persona 4 Golden–how crammed to the brim each surroundings feels, no matter whether or not it is a dungeon or a small store. Whereas the constancy won’t be there, the artistry is, and all the pieces feels very deliberately designed to evoke a specific feeling, be it consolation or unease. I additionally assume that, particularly in 2023, slower begins to video games are much more anticipated and accommodating, making Persona 4 Golden’s gradual burn far much less grating than it might need been in 2012.

Over a decade later, Persona 4 Golden gives up the identical heat and radiance its identify implies. The benefit at which the sport can leverage environment and emotion is outstanding and never simply emulated. And whereas Persona 3 would possibly boast a profound story and Persona 5 an abundance of favor and flash, it’s that intimate atmosphere–that sense of closeness and belonging–that units Persona 4 aside from each of them. Although elements of its social commentary are ignorant and regressive, there may be an underlying tenderness and sincerity that shines by means of most different parts of the sport and make it a must-play.


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