Persona 4 Golden is not simply an HD remake of the PS2 game Persona 4. The game expands upon the original story with new characters, new areas to explore, and even deeper gameplay. Persona 4 Golden catches you from the start, and there is enough in the game to keep you occupied for hundreds of hours.
You are the new kid in town, a high school boy who has moved from the big city to live with his uncle and cousin in the country. As he starts to maneuver his way through the social trials of school, he gets caught up in a series of mysterious murders somehow related to a strange late night show called the Midnight Channel. The hero discovers he has the power to go into an alternate world that exists behind the TV screen. With the help of your new friends you set out to solve the biggest mystery to hit Inaba, fighting battles while still dealing with the everyday life and drama of high school.
Persona 4 Golden has an interesting dual nature. On one hand, it is a dungeon-crawler RPG, where you gather your party and strategize your way through the multilevel worlds of those trapped inside the TV. While every character has a basic attack, their real power comes from their ‘persona’, which can use a series of powers to attack enemies and support the party. With the exception of the player, each character has an assigned persona that can fill a variety of roles.
The player character can collect a variety of personas throughout the dungeons, and are able to create and customize new ones. This is where the game’s social links come into play. Spending time with different characters throughout the game allows you to build social bonds with them. Increasing your social rank gains you bonuses in battle, but also allows you to gain certain bonuses when creating new personas through the fusion process. The challenge in the game is balancing the dungeon crawling with everyday activities, doing well with one often benefits you in the other.
There are quite a few changes from the original Persona 4. Two new social links have been added: angsty teen Marie and lazy junior detective Adachi. There are new areas to explore, including full access to Okina City, which in the original is only seen in cutscenes. Accessing Okina City and other areas (such as a beach and ski resort) is done through the student’s motorbikes, another new addition.
Persona 4 Golden is filled with beautiful animations. While there are some cutscenes, most of the story is told through anime illustrations that go along with text. Everything is detailed and looks fantastic, and the character design for enemies and personas keeps things interesting.
The game’s audio is probably some of the best out there. The soundtrack is filled with catchy songs that will get stuck in your head, but in a good way. All cutscenes are fully voiced, which makes the characters seem that much more real. All-new voice acting has been done for Rise and Teddie.
There are some minor online features that allow players to consult others playing Persona 4 Golden. One is Vox Populi (Voice of the People), which allows you to see how others have spent their time at a particular point in an in-game day. The other is the SOS that players can use to ask for assistance in dungeons. Of the two, Vox Populi is slightly more useful, but neither are really essential to the game. Persona 4 Golden is a single-player campaign, and its not necessary to take advantage of the online aspects to enjoy it.
There are quite a few changes that expand upon the original Persona 4. For those new to the JRPG scene, this game is a great introduction to the genre. Everything is well explained, and even fans of the original will find the additions make this game worth revisiting. Between an engaging story, plenty of activities and quests to complete, Persona 4 Golden is going to keep players busy for a good long time.
Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus
Release Date: US- November 20, 2012 EU- February 22, 2013
Platforms: PlayStation Vita Digital: Yes
Game Cost: $39.99/TBA (EU) ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1 (some online functionality)
Online Pass: No