About time, right? I promised to make a review for Persona 4 Golden that I’ve been playing on my PS Vita. It’s a game that I had downloaded for some time, but I only picked it up some 6 weeks ago. Not knowing what to expect, it has been a huge surprise to me. I wrote about my first thoughts in January, when I was still at the beginning of the game. Now, when I’m 50 hours in, I think I can safely say that I LOVE this game. It was my Game of the Month January, and I’m still playing it now in February.
First of all, if you don’t know the Persona games, what can you expect? Expect a JRPG with turn based battle, with a very good background story, very good visuals, catchy music and social interaction within the game. It’s not just fighting, spending time with your friends and several other people in the story is just as important, as it will influence the strength of Personas that you can fuse. For me, this is the side of the game that makes me love it, but I guess there will be gamers too that don’t like the amount of story and reading that you will have to do.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Your character is a student who’s just moved from the big city to the rural town of Inaba, to live for a year with his uncle Detective Dojima. Dojima isn’t really ready for a teenage boy; he lives alone with his young daughter Nanako and is very pre-occupied with his detective work. Even more so when shortly after you arrive, a murder occurs. And then another one! The murders leave their mark at school, and you get to know your fellow students Chie, Yosuke, and Yukio very well in a short amount of time. After getting a visit in your dream from a creepy old guy in a blue room, asking you if you might be THE one, you discover a world inside the TV where the killings seem to be taking place. Entering the TV world you find a very strange character, called Teddy, who seems to be an empty bear. Pretty soon you realise you have to get to the bottom of things before even more lives are claimed, including yours.
So you’ve got your work cut out for you, saving victim after victim, closing every chapter with a boss battle. These battles can be quite challenging, depending on how much grinding you’ve done and the skills of your personas. Each of your team member has one persona, but your character can have several, which is pretty nice. Making sure you have the right combination in skill sets is important, the right balance between attack skills, skills to influence the attackers stats and healing skills. I had a hard time choosing, when I progressed further in the story, which team member I’d take with me, because you can only take three. Levelling up can only be attained by fight after fight, and as happens so often the amount of SP you have is the bottle neck. But by careful planning, it can be done. For every victim, you only have so much time to rescue them. And should you fail, the game is over. I’ve found though that the time margin is ample, no worries there.
There’s a life outside of gaming too. You socialise with your friends, making sure you experience deep, spiritual moments together so your social link gets higher which benefits you in fusing personas. Plus, from time to time it gives you a special attack where two team-mates team up, like the Golden Dragon attack Chie and Yokiko can perform. What surprised me though was the jobs you can take, which make you earn money, but where you can interact with other people too in a storyline that is rather deep. Like for instance the job at the daycare centre, where you meet a boy and his young stepmother who has no clue how to take care of the wayward boy. The game even taught me something about Japan, where kids are actually eager to get good grades, as it mean their classmates want to be their friend! Talk about a difference in culture!
Add to all of that the possibility to go online and connect with other players. Having them help you in battle by sending some energy over, getting votes of what other people have done on any specific day in the game, and watching some sort of tv show. I feel the online connectivity isn’t very deep, but it’s a nice addition nonetheless.
To wrap it all up, I love this game. One of the better games I’ve played. No need for a large cup sizes and skimpy armour for the ladies, kinda refreshing. “Every day’s great at your Junes”