I loved Persona 4 Golden when I first got to play it on the PlayStation Vita, and now, on my third playthrough, I love it all over again on the PlayStation 4. Don’t get me wrong, it can show its age in places (especially when compared to Persona 5), but it’s still an unmissable RPG experience that gets so much right.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Persona 4 Golden sees the player moving to the seemingly idyllic town of Inaba, where they’ve been sent to live with their policeman uncle and young cousin. It seems like it’d be a nice change of pace for you, but lo and behold, things take a sour turn when some gruesome murders occur that show that Inaba hides some dark secrets. Who better to unravel the mystery than you and the new friends you make in high school? There’s one catch: you can only uncover clues by exploring a dangerous new dimension that’s found within TV screens. It’s utterly bizarre, but also brilliant.
What follows is a gripping narrative that’ll keep players fully invested right until the end credits, with plenty of twists-and-turns taking place as you uncover the truth behind the disturbing murders – all whilst living a seemingly normal life in school during the day. Yep, Persona 4 Golden has the social and relationship-building aspects seen in Persona 5, and they play just as heavily into the overarching narrative. With an excellent cast of characters that are genuinely likable, some harrowing sequences to see unfold, and a pace of progress that’ll keep players glued to their screens, Persona 4 Golden gets top marks for its storytelling.
“It’s just prettier and more accessible than what PlayStation Vita gamers would’ve been used to, and it helps make Persona 4 Golden even more of an enjoyable experience.”
The gameplay is equally as engrossing, with a good blend of activities for players to complete during the meaty adventure. You’ll partake in some excellent turn-based battling that’ll demand strategic prowess from the player, explore a variety of dungeons, and continually improve your party, with the crux of this coming with your Personas. These essentially give the protagonist and his allies their skills in combat, with each Persona offering different special abilities to diversify your combat capabilities. Whilst your party have fixed Personas, players have more freedom to customise those of the main protagonist, with new Personas made available by strengthening your relationships with your allies or by fusing existing ones together to make more powerful creations. It’s an addictive mechanic that ensures your activities outside of battling have some real worth.
Then you have the social side of the experience, which sees the player living their everyday life in Inaba over the span of a year. Inaba offers plenty for players to see and do, but the biggest investment comes with the relationships you share with others. You’ll be able to choose who you want to spend time with, how to respond to them, and how to develop your relationship further, with the game tracking these bonds you make and rewarding them with further Persona development. It’s genuinely captivating, whilst the storytelling involved with each character in these social situations showcases some of the best moments of the narrative.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Whilst Persona 4 Golden gets SO much right, it does show its age in some aspects of its design. For one, it was based off a PlayStation 2 game, so there are some limitations in its presentation. Whilst it has held up surprisingly well over the years, there’s simply no denying that the visuals are outdated – especially when compared to Persona 5. There’s also the issue of the dungeon design, which sees players venturing through some repetitive areas that can lack excitement and creativity in their design. It’s worth noting that I love the visual aspects of the dungeons and how they’re based upon those involved in each murder, but it feels like once you’ve explored one dungeon in Persona 4 Golden, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the rest. It’s not a game-breaker by any means since the core gameplay is so enjoyable, but again, it feels dated in design.
One thing that’s worth noting is that this fresh release of Persona 4 Golden is more of an enhanced port as opposed to a straight up remaster, but there are still plenty of improvements on offer to make the experience more enjoyable. You can play it at a higher resolution than the PlayStation Vita and with a 60fps frame rate, so everything in-game looks and feels smoother. The new quick save feature makes life a lot easier too, especially when it comes to decision-making in social situations or when facing one of the game’s difficulty spikes (which can be REALLY nasty at times), whilst it’s even possible to view an album that lets players re-play social events to see different outcomes. It’s just prettier and more accessible than what PlayStation Vita gamers would’ve been used to, and it helps make Persona 4 Golden even more of an enjoyable experience.
Persona 4 Golden Review
Persona 4 Golden is a brilliant RPG that feels even better than before with its move to modern consoles. The game looks and plays better, whilst enhancements like the quick save go a long way in making the experience more accessible. Best of all, it has stood the test of time, with the gameplay just as enjoyable and the storytelling just as engrossing as it was before (even IF some aspects do feel a little dated in design). It might have earned plenty of plaudits and new fans with Persona 5, but Persona 4 Golden still stands out as a brilliant turning point for the series that helped define what it is today. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think its successor was a better game, but Persona 4 Golden is still an unmissable experience for RPG fans.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC