Persona 4 PC, Truly Golden
Persona 4 Golden, after years of waiting, has finally been offered to fans on something other than the PS2 and PSVita a few weeks ago and I have spent some time truly revisiting one of my favourite JRPGs. This PC port is a brilliant thing but also has its caveats, let’s delve into what they are.
The first thing that hits you when you play this re-release is that the up-scaling was well needed. There's actually many details in the game that were missed due to the low res output of the original Persona 4 on PS2 and its subsequent re-release on the PSVita, however these details are clear as day when viewed in 1080p, there is one downside to this however, the assets go largely unchanged, it is just a port after all, so the dated look of the game stands out. Saying that, no one buys a persona game for graphics, it is the story, the characters, and the game-play.
Now anyone who knows a Persona game knows full well the experience is not one for those looking for a quick pick up and play. You play as Yu, that is both a pun and a later revealed truth, you get to name the character of course but it was later revealed the character’s name is Yu. You have just moved into town to live with your uncle, a local detective. The game follows the familiar calendar system in which you must live out the year. Not long after moving you find that things in the town are not as they seem, almost as if there are some stranger things afoot. The game-play itself is a mixture of traditional JRPG dungeon crawling and a sort of life simulator where the activities you face outside of the dungeons also contribute to your strength within them. Your character gains the ability to use, as the name implies, persona’s, demon like creatures. Each persona is aligned to a different tarot card, each tarot card is represented by a different social link, these social links are one of the many things you must complete activities in the world to increase. The game is about choosing when to do what, do I prioritise activities with one friend to increase my social link? Do I study or complete tasks like jobs to raise my characters stats? Do I spend the afternoon crafting items for use in the dungeons? This meticulous nature of how you handle the day-to-day is one of the things makes the Persona series so great.
The combat is another, due to the way the calendar and progression of time works after completing an activity, working on one thing means you’ve sacrificed another, this in turn results in the removal of the ability to over grind and enter god mode, a problem with many RPGs, this leads the battles to often be very tense, strong enough enemies can turn a flopped turn into a wipe. More than ever the rock-paper-scissors elements of games like PokéMon with type effectiveness is apparent in this game, knowing your enemies weaknesses is a big part of overcoming most enemies in this game and it’s knowledge of how to send enemies into a knockdown, or utilise status effects that saves the battles more often than not.
Another thing is the standout characters and voice acting. They, along with the character portraits, has held up exceptionally, it’s not hard to find yourself gravitating towards one character over the others as you actually find yourself growing fond of the way they’re written, every now and then your generic anime cliché is brought up but even those characters are given a very fun and enjoyable to watch light. Speaking of voice acting and characters, a genuinely nice addition is the ability to swap between English and Japanese, although I personally find the English perfect it does add a nice way to mix it up a bit. Let’s not forget about the music, ATLUS have always put an excellent focus on the music and theme of their games and Persona 4, while not as visually out there as say Persona 5, definitely has a distinct flair to it, personally, I prefer this soundtrack too.
Persona 4 Golden PC isn’t a release that’ll have many old fans jumping out of their seats for changes to the game, it’s a chance to revisit a classic and a chance for newer fans of the series who jumped in after the Persona 4 arena release t play one of the series most praised releases without the hassle of forking up for a second hand or even simply digging up an old console.