December 19, 2012

A Murder Mystery

Lasting First Impressions of Persona 4 Golden

Developed by Atlus

P4G Boxart» Originally released in 2008 for the PlayStation 2, Persona 4 was received to high critical acclaim, so much so that it has now been revisited and upgraded for the PS Vita in Persona 4 Golden.  I had never played the original title when it was available for the PS2, but I know how popular and revered the game has become over the years.  As a fan of traditional Japanese RPGs, I looked forward to visiting this game for the first time on the PS Vita.

Persona 4 Golden is, as mentioned above, a very detailed story-driven RPG.  Unlike games such as Final Fantasy that take place in a fantasy realm, however, Persona 4 Golden is a modern day story but with all the spells and weapons that come with any RPG.  What really makes this game stand out over any other JRPG I’ve played is the shear amount of detail in the story telling and the associated animations.  The developers really left nothing out.  As a result, Persona 4 Golden takes a very long time to get to the meat of the gameplay itself.  With 4 hours of the game already behind me I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what this game offers.  Most of this time was spent learning the characters, settings, and the beginning of the main story that is being told.  This is not a bad thing in any way because the story is so engrossing, that time flies by quickly and unnoticed.  I found myself completely immersed in the game, the story, the characters, and the world created. It was like being a part of a great epic movie.

P4G screen 1

Persona 4 Golden revolves around the player character who has just transferred from the “Big City” to the small Japanese town of Inaba (although all the characters seem overly American instead of Japanese) to live with his police officer Uncle and his cousin.  Shortly after arriving, two bizarre murders occur and our hero find himself and his newfound high school friends knee deep in the investigations.  Only this investigation takes them to another world inside the television.  In this TV world, our characters hone their Personas, creatures of unimaginable power to help them defeat the evil Shadows that inhabit the TV world, in an attempt to stop the mysterious murders that are happening in the real world.

Persona 4 Golden goes beyond the traditional RPG by adding in the concept of a Social and High School simulator. Since our hero and his companions are High School students, this aspect of their lives are all a part of the game. Going to class, studying in the library, socializing with friends, all contribute to the player’s attributes just as much as heading into the TV world to level up their fighting techniques.  I have never experienced an RPG with this much detail and player control. Ever.  Even the day of the week and the current weather are a part of the strategies used in the game and story. It’s almost mind boggling how much the developers have jammed into this game yet still kept it interesting and inviting.

P4G screen 2

What is an RPG without monster battles? Persona 4 Golden has plenty of those in the TV world. Battles are turn-based, just as I like them but move with speed and intensity so no battle feels like it’s taking too long. That’s not to say they are easy by any means. There will be much strategy involved to get out of some of even the smaller encounters.  Personas, as they are collected by winning battles, can be equipped at any time and they will level up with the hero as long as they are used.  Personas can even be fused together to create new, more powerful ones.

The options given to the player in Persona 4 are enormous.  What makes this game unique is, even with all these options and abilities, none of it seems overwhelming which is, sometimes, a hard thing for developers to successfully do.  Atlus has done an amazing job with Persona 4 Golden.  The story is crafted magnificently, even if it is a little corny at times, the player choice is intriguing, the added life simulation is very clever and, ultimately, the battles and RPG elements are flawless.  If you are a fan of traditional turn-based RPGs with a magnificent story and are looking for something that is in-depth and detailed, this is a must-have game for you.  If you don’t have a PS Vita yet, go get one just for this game.

Atlus, I gave you (more than) an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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