Dust off your PlayStation Vita gamers because it’s time to give that purchase some meaning. Persona 4 Golden is one of the best games on the PS Vita, especially for any of you RPG fanatics. Persona 4 Golden is another iteration of the long running Shin Megami Tensei’s Persona series, and places you into an entertaining story involving dungeon crawling, turn based combat, high school drama, building relationships, joining a sport, after school club, and holding a part time job.
Persona 4 was originally released on the PlayStation 2 in 2008, and ported to the PS Vita on November 20, 2012. Persona 4 Golden has improved the visuals of the PlayStation 2 version with smooth character models, widescreen and high definition graphics. The visual style of the game resembles that of a Japanese game show, and the Japanese pop soundtrack really works with the game and visual style. Most of the songs play over and over again throughout the game, yet you don’t grow tired of them. Voice acting for the most part is spot on throughout the game, and the majority of the story is shown to you through images and text based conversations. PlayStation Vita’s online functionality adds a “Voice” button that you can press throughout the game giving your screen an overload of chat bubbles that do nothing really, and in the dungeon an “SOS” button that can grant you encouraging words from online players and stat buffs.
Without spoiling too much of the storyline, the main protagonist is a 2nd year high school student that moves from the big city, to the little farm town of Inaba to live with his uncle and little cousin. Your high school life is going to become overloaded with activities involving sports, clubs, and a part time job. Persona 4 Golden’s story starts off a little slow at first, but a few hours in, events begin to occur that really pick up the pace of the game. People are showing up dead all over the place and no one has any idea why. The protagonist and his friends get pulled into this TV World through a portal, which is a big screen TV at the local department store. It turns out that the people that show up dead do so because they are thrown into this TV World with no protection and no idea what might happen. This is where the protagonist learns that he and his friends possess the ability to use Personas, which are creatures that you summon to help you in battle. As you go through the game, players will use these Personas to rescue other people that are placed in the same type of danger and ultimately use your experiences to find the killer/person throwing people into the TV World.
Persona 4 Golden’s gameplay is where you really get your money’s worth. There is so much content in this game it’s almost overwhelming. As a high school student, your protagonist has school, sports, and a job, plus shadow slaying, rescuing people, and capturing a serial killer to fill up his day. Not all of it can be accomplished in one day so you must use your time wisely. It is crucial to not only succeed at work and sports, but with side missions and friendships. You will build Social Links which play a pivotal role throughout the game. With the serial killer mystery unfolding, the protagonist and his friends will travel to the TV World frequently to level grind, dungeon crawl, and collect items and new Personas. In order to collect and create more powerful Personas, you must fuse them together. This is where Social Links play that pivotal role I mentioned earlier; your new created Personas will receive stat boosts and increased experience levels depending on how high you have ranked your Social Link for that type of Persona.
The TV World is made of up a variety of dungeons that contain chests full of loot, rooms and hallways with shadows to destroy, and at times, a person to rescue. The combat is turn-based and will consist of you choosing which Persona will allow you to take advantage of the shadows weakness, using items, and attacking with your protagonist. As you level grind through the dungeons, you will collect new Personas, skill cards, and items used for crafting. Skill Cards can be used to give your Personas special skills that they might not obtain through leveling. Crafting items are turned in to one of the many shops in town to create useful items you can use during battle.
After collecting a variety of Personas, you can take them to the secret “Velvet Room”, which is a limo that only your character can visit. The “Velvet Room” is home to Igor and his two assistants. Igor is your mentor, in a way, and gives you information throughout your adventure, but he is mainly used for fusing your Personas. You can view “recipes” of what your Personas will fuse into before you do it, and be able to use a “Compendium” to summon Personas you had before if needed for those “recipes”. If this is your first Persona game, this will be hard to figure out at first because the tutorial for this part of the game is almost non-existent, which also goes along with other parts of the game that lack explanation. The lack of explanation of crucial game functions can cause a learning curve, luckily by the time the pace of the game picks up and you begin fighting more difficult enemies, you will pretty much already get the hang of it… hopefully. A great addition to the gameplay is when defeated, respawning on the floor or level of the dungeon you lost in. No more having to re-load your save and start the entire dungeon again.
Yes, there is a lot going on in this game and it really does take a few hours to get the hang of it, but Persona 4 Golden is one of the best RPG’s I have ever played and it definitely makes it my favorite reason for having a PlayStation Vita. The story of Persona 4 Golden is really driven by the fact that you invest so much in your character and his relationships which play a huge role in ranking up your Social Links. Collecting and fusing Personas is incredibly fun, especially when you are trying to earn 100% on the Compendium to earn that Gold PSN Trophy. The dungeon crawling and turn-based combat works for this game and does not get stale. Same can be said about the great soundtrack and visual style. This game will probably take you a minimum of 60 to 100+ hours, especially when pursuing all of the side quests and trying to max out your Social Links, which I highly recommend be one of the main focuses due to the bonuses you get when fusing Personas. Although there is an overwhelming amount of content, and most of the features of the game are not explained in depth, once you get playing and getting deeper into the story, it will all come together and create such an amazing handheld experience. I highly recommend Persona 4 Golden to anyone that is an RPG fan and looking for a great PlayStation Vita game.
Persona 4 Golden is available now for PlayStation Vita and can also be purchased through the PlayStation Store.