Reviews: Persona 4

Persona 4 Golden: A Deep And Enjoyable JRPG

Having long heard good things about Persona 4, I decided to get a PS VITA to play it, as well as some other games that I'm interested in. So far, the decsion has turned out to be a good one, as Persona 4: Golden is quite fun.

The plot involves a high school student coming to live with his uncle and cousin in the small and seemingly boring town of Inaba for a year, only for two murders to occur soon after his arrival, causing him to save other potential victims.

The battle system has a somewhat standard array of spells and physical attacks, but the ability to gain the tactical advantage by striking an enemy weakness (something your enemies can also do to you) or to switch between various sets of ability mid-battle add good amounts of tactical depth. The dungeons themselves are somewhat bland, though, generally being randomly generated mazes with occasional traps, puzzles and minibosses.

There's considerably more to do besides explore dungeons, though. While you have a limited amount of time when you're saving people or confronting the villains responsible, you can spend it hanging out with friends, developing skills or studying, all of which have various bonuses. There's a great deal of choice for casual players on lower difficulties, and hardcore players will be challenged to find the best way to rise to the higher difficulties.

The characters are quite deep, multifaceted and interesting, particularly as your character's friendships (and potentially roomances) develop over time in Social Links. It might have been nice to see more of the Character Development in the social links reflected outside of them, particularly the romances, but it's understandable, since a large portion of it is long-term (e.g. Yukiko's deals with what will happen after she graduates from high school).

The Golden rerelease adds a significant amount of new content, such as two new social links, new events, and some improvements to gameplay. Unfortunately, the new dungeon is somewhat underwhelming, with the SP-limiting mechanics and being forced to use only the items found in it being more annoying than challenging. To make matters worse, you have to do the dungeon to see the extension to the ending that is new to Golden.

All in all, Persona 4 Golden is well worth checking out, especially if you enjoyed the original.

Falls short of greatness (Story review)

P4 is a game with a high amount of potential which it doesn't achieve due to a lack of character development and a somewhat flawed moral on why you shouldn't lie to yourself.

I was excited to obtain new characters the first time playing as I was eager to see how they would work on dealing with their own issues. How disappointed I was when I learned that the characters don't develop AT ALL. Whether or not you spend time on their S-links, nothing really changes about them outside of battle. By the end of the game, they're still the same person, which brings me to the anvilicious moral of the game...

The game makes it obviously clear that you shouldn't lie to yourself and that you should accept who you are. A commendable effort... HOWEVER, this moral takes a rather unpleasant light once you reach the 7th storyline boss. Simply put, I felt that the moral of the game shouldn't have been "Don't lie to yourself" but rather "Make yourself a better person." Just imagine if you-know-who were to accept who he was and how much more powerful the game would've been. Which leads me to Yosuke...

I can't believe that the writers at Atlus took such a huge step backwards from Persona 3's Junpei. It seemed rather simple: Both are class clowns who suffer similar tragedies and they both share the same arcana. While Junpei becomes more mature because of it, Yosuke unfortunately acts like an obnoxious imbecile who disrespects his own teammates, failing to realize that his behavior throughout the entire game might've been the reason girl he loved didn't love him back, making it hard for us to disagree with her when she said that "he was a real pain in the ass".

The S-links are also another issue I have. Other then Nanako, Dojima, Naoki and Naoto, all the other S-links were bland. While the Arcana/Ally bonuses are quite helpful, it does nothing to affect the main story which feels rather wasted seeing how much it would've worked with the moral I mentioned above.

As for the main mystery plot, I only had minor issues with it (talking to civilians...) though one scene near the end of the game was quite the head banger (before unlocking the 7th dungeon). What happened afterward should've been avoided.

In short, P4 is a huge disappointment in terms of story. Hopefully Persona 5 will fix these issues as P4 truly could be something amazing.

Persona 4 Golden - Social Links

Persona 4: Golden was a fantastic remake to an already great game, managing to make me care about the characters than I already did.

Thanks to Marie and Adachi, the social links are a lot different, but really only in their respective areas. Marie as a new character is particularly problematic, because of how much story is centered on her. She's fine while you're actually doing the link, but optional or not, the canon of the game now heavily involves her to an inane degree. In contrast, Adachi's link is one I found interesting and exciting, but I only pursued it on the second playthrough. I felt guiltier than sin the first time I tried for the accomplice ending—it's one thing for Adachi to spout lies and bullshit about how things are your fault when he's cornered, but having him say that to your face and know hes 100% right, that shook me.

The other links don't change much, but now your team gain new moves as they progress, which gives you a lot more customization options, and the third tier personas are fantastic. I have plans to turn Chie physical-only and magic-only in future runs, and to turn Kanji into a good healer with a Blessed Hands accessory.

Third Tier Personas: Yosuke's made me laugh out loud, it looks stupid as hell—but I liked the Youthful Wind move. Chie at third tier is fantastic. I like the look of Suzuka Gongen a bit more than Haraedo-no-Okami, but it still looks badass, and Dragon Hustle is a must for Margaret or the Final Boss on hard, just make sure to have a Chakra Ring. Pretty much the same deal with Yukiko in terms of design, but Burning Petals now allows her to be the sole character that can outdo Kanji in damage, provided you take the time to get Mind Charge. Kanji's is...less appealing, both design-wise and because I tend to shuffle out the Dizzy Boost move that will make The Man's Way reliable. It at least looks better than flames everywhere. Teddie's I can take or leave. Naoto's Shield of Justice move is amazing, and not so detrimental, but the look of Yamato Sumeragi is so gaudy, I hate it, USA up the wall.

Golden doubles the already admirable replay value this way, and it's probably the best new feature added.

Only good if you are a patient otaku

This is my first review, english isn't my first language but i love smt series so...

Story: New kid in town, people die, make friends, go inside magic world to fight monsters, more friends, months pass and no progress, spend time with friends, discover the traitor, Big Bad was some god trolling humanity For the Evulz, friendship wins. Just don't play for the plot.

Soundtrack: Shoji Meguro is awesome, but it's J-pop/rock. So, Love It or Hate It.

Graphics: Not very impressive but decent, clean and colorful.

Gameplay: Too simple, only 1 physical element, unbalanced but handable. Demon collecting is addicting.

Dating: Yeah, p4 is half dating sim but not a very satisfying one. If you play for the sim you get sad since it's useless to the story and if you just want the demons you have to endure it. IMHO everyone's a Flat Character (likeable or not). Stats are useless to the story too.

Team: I don't know how people like these characters, the voice work is amazing but they don't sound like friends, they sound like every anime stereotype ever. Flanderized for comedy instead of acting like human beings.

Since SL don't connect with the story there is no character development, this is painfully pointless. Shadows are horribly done since they happen too soon so instead of development you see their stereotype and everyone forgets it later. Also homophobic how they joke about Kanji orientation but everyone greets Naoto with open arms, even saying she is cute and it's not her fault.

Almost none of them can be called FRIENDS for real, Yosuke and Kanji relationship is basically "lol, you gay?" vs "You saying i like dudes?!", Kanji never talked with Naoto about his feelings, Teddie's constant flirt makes him incapable of having a normal conversation with the girls, and so on.

It's okay to have different personalities but having NOTHING in common isn't, this group of friends would never hang out in a mall for real. Yeah, i know it's FANTASY but at least they could develop a real friendship, those group moments try too hard to be funny.

It's JAP-RPG: This game is almost an anime, it has "filler", long conversations and cliché jokes, Gratuitous Japanese and it's LONG. If you don't like that don't play to regret later.

Good game, just not for everyone.

A Superior Experience: P4 The Golden

I once borrowed a friend's old PS2 that barely worked and had to bargain hunt for a month to find a copy of the original Persona 4, and I didn't even mind, so excited was I for the critically-acclaimed JRPG. The story and characters did not disappoint, and I was hooked on the mystery.

However, the gameplay caused... problems. The dungeons were too long, and were clearly made for someone who had enough time on their hands to just play through them for hours upon hours at a time, without needing to put down the controller to do other things with great frequency, since the system practically requires the player to marathon huge chunks of them and doesn't let the player save inside. Personas were created via randomized fusion, and could only be acquired through an asinine reflexes-based mini-game that I hated to death. I just kinda gave up partway through my second run-through of the Steamy Bathhouse, not even finishing it once.

Then, I got a Vita for Christmas. It was still a young console, with few really good games available for it, but this was one of them. The Golden not only provides the same great story as the original, but smooths out all the gameplay kinks in the process. Lower difficulty levels are available for people like me who want to experience the story the first time through. Taking a long break from a dungeon to do something else is as simple as hitting the "PS" button on the Vita and turning it into a window. The player can now make the Persona they want from the skills they want, and selecting them now involves a clever "pick X cards" minigame that offers other rewards, creating an interesting new dynamic. Both reward thought and risk-reward calculation rather than goat-sacrifices to the RNG.

As to the new story content, I wasn't a fan of the character models or some of the writing in the new animated bits, but most of them managed to be at least amusing. Marie did feel a little forced and cliche, and her poetry sucked, but she grew on me, and the Hollow Forest she unlocked was such a great pacing change I'm amazed the plot ever worked without it. And Adachi's Social Link is pitch-perfect, if spoilery as all get out.

It's been a few years, and I now have many other games for the system that I love too, but Persona 4 is still the best game on the Vita and the best way to experience the story.

The Golden: Sometime's Less Really is More

When I think of Persona 4, there are a few things that I immediately think of it: That it was one of the greatest games on PS2, perhaps the last great game on that console, and easily my favourite JRPG of all time. Perhaps with such a high view of it, I'm a little biased to talk about the 'updated rerelease' known as The Golden. But what the hoo-ha, I want to talk about it.

For the most part is, the game is intact, a very solid recreation of Persona 4 on the Vita retaining the old material. There are some new voice actors in place of the old ones, but they do a good job so I shan't complain. All the old social links are there, along with two new ones... which make for one of my main gripes with the game. Adding Adachi in as a social link is dumb, but you can ignore it entirely. Marie on the other hand? Oh no, she is crowbarred in right from the get go, and throughout most of the game you'll be dealing with her irritating 'personality' (that of a stereotypical tsundere) and crap poetry with no escape in sight. She really does come off as a bad fanfic self-insert and drags the experience down.

The combat is the same for the most part with a few new gimmicks thrown in like new specials and Rise being able to take a more proactive approach to combat. Nice ideas, sure, but not exactly necessary. The game adds new scenes such as the ski trip and beach trip along with some new locations to explore. And I can appreciate them, again they're nice and probably some of the better things added to the port.

Also for an 'updated' version of the game, some of the old niggles are still there. You still have to do those stupid investigation segments before you can start a new dungeon, grinding the pace to a halt looking for information the characters should already know. And it's still kind of a pain to build your stats up to handle certain social links, making for a uphill battle to do the Dojima social links on the first playthrough.

I'm probably biased, and the game would likely be better for people who didn't play the vanilla version of Persona 4.

Amazing plot. Wonderful characters. Mind-blowing JRPG.

Short answer: see title. Long answer: below.

Storyline/plot - 9/10 - P4's story is definitely a major reason why you'd want to buy this game. The story is a huge driving force motivating you to save innocent victims of the evil bastard kidnapping them and bringing him to justice. Furthermore, not only is the plot intense, exciting, often humorous and (in some places) a real Tear Jerker, but it is like that throughout the entire game - there are very few moments, if any, where the story gets repetitive or dull. The main downsides can include a stretched Willing Suspension Of Disbelief and confusing aspects of the plot that make little sense which are not explained until very late-game. But overall, it's great.

Characterization - 8.5/10 - P4 has a truly wonderful cast. Your party members, closest friends and even the antagonists each have their own unique, distinctive personality, and the English VAs are actually really good! The social links are mostly brilliant, sometimes completely changing your perspective on a certain character; doubly so for your party members since you also get to see their "shadow" (a hidden/suppressed part of their personality). An example of how effective this is? People cry at the normal/true ending, purely because they are saying goodbye to these characters they've known so well.

Combat - 8/10 - P4 uses a modified turn-based system where both sides can be granted extra turns if they score critical hits or exploit weaknesses. This may sound simple, but actually adds a lot of depth to strategies in battle and can easily decide who emerges victorious. Along with the SMT tradition of buffs, insta-kill spells and ailment attacks actually making a real difference, Persona 4 has a complex and often challenging combat system that rewards players who fight intelligently, and punishes those who are lazy and ignore their weaknesses.

Soundtrack - 8.5/10 - P4 has some truly brilliant music, complete with Engrish lyrics and vocals. Almost any situation you find yourself in will be accompanied by an amazing soundtrack.

Lasting appeal - 7.5/10 - Although you'll know who the culprit is on a NG+, the game is often as fun and as exciting as ever. There'll be quite a few aspects of the game you won't have seen before, in addition to other exclusive NG+ features. Definitely worth a second playthrough.

Overall - 9/10.

Don't believe the hype

Let's start with what Persona4 does right. The combat system's, due to the option to directly control your team-mates and a slightly refined weakness-hitting system, is a welcome improvement on the Persona3 system. Also welcome is the availability to view skill descriptions at any time. Oh, and there's a most deserved Take That to Twilight.

The story's concept is very good, if borrowing a bit from the previous entry. As a student being relocated for a year from the city to the country, you discover Another Dimension on the other side of T Vs, which conveniently ties in with a murder mystery in that someone's throwing people into this other world where they'll be devoured by a monster formed by their suppressed self when the fog arrives in the real world. You, your friends and the Persona beings you control must save the victims and identify the killer.

The concept and other ideas are good, but the execution is... put simply, there is no execution. Apart from 'rescue someone' and a Red Herring or two, nothing happens at all until the very end. A very disappointing end (and I'm not just taking about the three bad endings).

It's clear the game was meant to be more character-centric, however in this case it fails entirely. Apart from Kanji and Teddie, every single playable character is either obnoxious and/ or boring, and the supporting cast is only slightly better. The problem here was simple. Atlus tried way too hard to make the cast endearable and relatable, "just like back in high school", that they ended up with a bunch of irritating brats (Heh, just like back in high school). It doesn't help that all Character Development is confined to the social link side-stories.

There's also a lot of humour in this game, however, while some isn't so bad, pretty much all of it is groan-inducing, predictable, cliched (Lethal Chef anyone?) and unfunny.

The game centres around an Aesop of Truth and being true. Unfortunately, Persona4 is one of the most unforgivably Anvilicious games since Eternal Sonata. I wanted to punch the screen every time the word truth appeared.

Although most Persona designs are good, most of them have been recycled from Persona3.

A mostly awful cast, no subtlety whatsoever, painful humour, an overrated soundtrack, a mishandled plot and decent, but not stellar, gameplay: Persona4.

Do Believe The Hype - a refreshing twist on a traditional concept

First of all, Persona 4 does not do anything new. Even discounting the fact it is still running the Persona 3 engine, the game is structured around a very traditional JRPG combat system and plot.

Sometimes, that's not such a bad thing. Because when a game can do "traditional" so well that it feels new all over again, you've got a real winner. And Persona 4 is just such a game.

The combat system has had some tweaks from Persona 3 - namely, no more leaving your party members to AI unless you want to. But why would you want to? Your party members are now significantly more useful contributors to your combat.

The place where Persona 4 really shines over its predecessor is the storyline, however. While the epic plots of Personas past are not present (the game centers around a murder mystery instead of the traditional "end of the world" bearing down on you at every turn), the trade-off is that the plot focuses extensively on the core cast of characters. By the end of Persona 4, I knew these people so much better than the bunch in Persona 3. This is honestly one of the most character driven games I have ever played. Even the social links you form have significantly more depth - when I'm sitting back and fretting over the fate of a single parent's relationship with her son, I know the game has done its job well. And having social links with my entire team brought me that much closer to their lives. And Persona 4 rarely chooses easy answers, a complexity usually lacking from stories centered around teens.

Most unusual about this game, especially for Mega Ten, is that the themes are overall hopeful and positive. In some games, this would feel cheap. Yet in this series, one that often focuses on futility and surviving in spite of it, Persona 4's themes of actually trying to overcome that ring a lot truer. After all, it's Mega Ten. You've got no guarantees that you, your party, or anyone else will survive.

While this game works well in conjunction with the rest of the series, it's also a good game on its own. I've played this with a friend that despised long storylines and JRP Gs as a whole and he could not stop watching me play. It's *that* compelling.

Wrap it all together with another excellent localization from Atlus and Persona 4 is easily one of the best and most rewarding games in the PS 2's library.

A solid RPG, with flaws

If you don't know what Persona 4 is, I suggest switching back to the main page for this.

The game is interesting, but sometimes slow-paced. The Breather Episodes do as much to detract from the pacing of the game as to add to it. The game takes forever to actually start, instead of being an extended tutorial. (Four hours from "Begin game" to actual, live combat?)

The combat system is, however, vastly improved from P3. It hits that sweet spot between "Too easy" and "too difficult" on Normal, without causing controller-throwing frustration. The TV world is not Tartarus, only existing as the Level Grind half of the game, but instead is an objective in and of itself - exploration and rescue is the entire point of the whole thing. The time limits on the exploration are generally long enough to provide impetus for progress, without standing on your head and demanding constant progress and trips into the TV. The blatant boss cheating and Stupid Boss Tricks from the original have been reduced, thankfully, while still keeping them a threat. Mooks remain lethal, but still fair and interesting.

Social Links also return in this, and are also arguably just as much the point of the game as the story and combat. Social statistics have been expanded a little, adding a couple new categories. There are a few less options in P4 from FES - no arcade, no mall (Mall was replaced by part-time jobs that increase your social stats and give you money), all shops close at night, the TV world is an all-day trip. However, the social links still manage to be interesting, and to make you want to bond with them.

Atlus also did a good job with localization and voicing. There are no obvious translation errors, and the voices of the characters feel right. They go well with the types they invoke.

Two major sticking points mar the interesting-once-you-get-into-it story, though: A nasty case of "We -were- using normal logic, now use game logic!" in one instance, just after a "surprise! bad ending if you choose wrong! and there are wrong answers that look right too!" sequence, and the game itself trying to actively push you toward the regular end when it comes time for the denouement.

It's a solid game, but it does have its flaws. If those flaws are parts of the genre you're accustomed to, I can recommend this.