[Vita Review] Persona 4: Golden
Persona 4: Golden is a Japanese-RPG for the Playstation Vita developed by Atlus. This game is an enhanced port of “Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4”, a Playstation 2 game that was released in 2008.
This is the first game in the “Persona” series I ever played, and I’m very impressed by its huge scale -the story runs for almost a full year- and its very solid RPG mechanics. I’m around 50 hours in the game, haven’t finished my first playthrough yet, and I’m still amazed by how fun each moment spent in this game is!
Inaba—a quiet town in rural Japan. A normal teenager arrives at the station to begin his year-long stay in the countryside, only to be welcomed by the news of a dead TV announcer. Shortly after, another body appears, mysteriously hung from the top of a telephone pole. The cause of death is unknown, with no leads on the suspect… As the peaceful community is thrown into turmoil, the urban youth and his classmates wander into a strange, surreal place covered by a thick fog…
Persona 4: Golden E3 2012 Trailer
Persona 4: Golden follows a few teenagers in the (fictional) Inaba region of Japan. During school, the main protagonist and his friends heard a rumor about people mysteriously appearing on the Midnight Channel, only at night and on rainy days.
Upon checking this rumor, the hero discovers that when the Midnight Channel is on, he can touch the TV screen and be warped into a parallel world within the TV. With his friends, they then discovers that a murderer is periodically sending people into the “TV world” in order to have their shadows (an evil version of the victims) kill them.
Into the parallel world
In the TV, Persona 4 is a dungeon crawler in which you have to defeat the victim’s shadow to save him/her from death.
Luckily, with the help of Teddie — a bizarre creature that lives in the TV world — exploring that world is an easier task as he explains how things work there. He also tells the team that his world is permanently filled with a thick fog that only clears when it has been raining for a few consecutive days in the “real world”. If that happens and the victim hasn’t been rescued yet, it will be killed by its shadow (spoiler: you want to avoid that!).
The battle system in Persona 4: Golden is turn-based. Each member in your team has a Persona (a powerful manifestation of their spirits). Personas can cast elemental spells or unleash physical attacks to enemies, and they grow in strength as you battle through dungeons.
Persona 4‘s battle system is fast-paced and extremely rewarding: when shadows are hit with their weaknesses, they’ll be “downed”, and when all enemies are down (which happens in most battles), your allies will offer to do an all-out-attack that does a lot of damage! Also, using the enemies weaknesses to win a battle will get you to a bonus round in which power-ups for your team will be offered (more exp/money gained from the fight, instant level-up your equipped persona, etc…).
The allies’ AI is also very smart and from my experience they practically always did what I would have asked them to do if I was using manual controls (which can be switched when fighting bosses).
Finally, when someone is kidnapped, you have a few game days to save the victim. The dungeons are generally (very) long to clear so be aware that a lot of time is spent in them.
In the real world, the hero and his friends are normal high-schoolers who like to hang out together. Almost a full year will be spent playing through the story, and time management is an important part of the progression because you can choose what to do each day.
Social Links will be developed with people as you spend time with them, and each link gives bonuses to their specific Persona arcanas (there are more than 20 different ones!). Apart from spending time with friends or going into a dungeon, you can go fishing, to the restaurant, do side-quests, read books, study for the finals, make lunch, or any other action available!
A cool feature added to the PS Vita version is that you can check out what the other players chose to do on a specific day. This gives hints on what kind of actions are available, and when the day changes, what you chose to do is then uploaded to the other players!
Social Link level up!
Persona 4: Golden is probably the best RPG out there for the Playstation Vita! The battle system is amazing, and spending time building Social Links with friends is awesome!
The game soundtrack is also pretty sharp and features a lot of diverse themes. The voice acting is almost perfect, and some cutscenes are truly hilarious when you get to know the characters.
This game can take 50-70 hours to clear the first time, and more playthroughs are encouraged with New Game+. Your investment will be worth it when you get this game!
Total amount of time played: 80 hours (and counting!).