I had never experienced the majesty of a title in the Megami Tensei series so when I read Persona 4 Golden may never be released in the UK I scrolled right on past it without a second thought.
I had no idea what I was missing.
I realise now I should have been creating petitions and kidnapping children of UK distributers because denying anyone this game should be considered a violation of a person’s Human rights.
I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I first booted the game story and gameplay wise. I had heard about the robust fusion system where you take 2 or 3 personas together and fuse them together into more powerful summons and that there was some dating-sim style elements, which I was dreading, but I didn’t think the story would take me on a journey of self-discovery both for my characters and myself.
The game is all about discovery. A character that may just be another face in the crowd may end up becoming your best friend and your closest confidant. Each hour spent playing feels completely personal to my game and my character because of the multiple choice options during conversations and the skill development of your character which affects the things you can say and do.
When trying to explain the concept of both the story and gameplay to friends I leave them completely bemused because it is a ridiculous premise for someone who isn’t familiar with simply saying “yes, ok.” To the crazy shit JRPGs throw at you. The main plot focusses around a serial killer who throws people into a magical world that can only be entered through televisions in order to get rid of them. The player can see who is in the world by watching ‘The Midnight Channel’ which only appears while it’s raining and becomes clearer depending on who is behind the camera, the real person or their other self which is the physical embodiment of all the parts of their personality they keep hidden. It’s up to you and your team of rag-tag friends to rescue people from this otherworld and their otherselves using your persona’s spells and your own characters weapons.
I’m a little ashamed to say this because of my rugged alpha exterior (Hahahaha) but I found myself getting really into the relationship building side of the game, spending hours of my time chatting to the characters just for amusement, the fact it also upgraded your Persona strengh was just a bonus. The writing is excellent and I’ve heard it is some of the best in the series, something I intend to see for myself as I wade deeper into the Megami Tensei universe. I shed a tear for one of my basketball bros when he was struggling to find a place in the world after his adoptive parents had a child of their own taking his claim to inherit the family business away from him. I felt a strong bond for the guy and made it my aim to help him through it, blowing off my other duties and dates with girls just to be there for him, something I don’t even do in my real life.
It is rare for me to play a JRPG that features both a captivating story, decent combat and an unbelievable amount of content but I do feel that PG4 ticks all my boxes. The combat is some of the best turn-based brawling I’ve seen and it’s generally entertaining if a little bit repetitive. There is only so many times you can hear the cry “PERSONA!” accompanied by some flashing blue lights and a high pitched voice screaming “YO GO SENSEI!” before it begins to drag. I found myself enjoying the story elements of the game far more than the dungeon crawling side just because of the variation and entertainment that is so rife in the dialogue. The dungeons are linear and while each level has its own unique look, every wall, floor, staircase, dead-end and fork has the same design and is repeated over and over again for around 9 floors. It isn’t lazy because I know how much effort went into the game in terms of character and story design but perhaps halving the amount of floors and increasing the difficulty of the monsters could bring a bit of challenge to them instead of just being something I have to do before I can continue flirting with anime women.
Since getting the game a week ago I have become completely engrossed in all the intricacies and complexities that are hidden under the cartoon façade. Similar to many JRPGs there are systems in here that even the most Asian of minds cannot understand. Despite my extensive Wiki reading I feel I have barely begun to scratch the surface which is both a daunting and exciting prospect.
My Vita was gathering a little dust before this was handed to me since I played Mortal Kombat to death (many deaths) but I’ve been playing this for actual days’ worth of game time and see no slowing down yet.
It’s not for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend it to a lot of people because of its content but for many this game will strike a harmonious chord with all that you desire from a game so if you think for a second “Yeah, this game sounds pretty good.” I highly, no I demand you buy it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.
Persona 4 Golden Review,