Persona 4 Golden PC Review
Persona 4 Golden was the best thing to ever happen to the PS Vita. Before that, Persona 4 was one of the better things to happen to the PS2. Now, P4G has landed on the PC, to class up a third platform. If you missed the Golden version of this game, maybe due to its release on a contentious portable system, it’s more or less a completely new game. This is partially due to the influx of new features, and partially due to all the RPGs you’ve played since P4 first hit the scene all those years ago. All of this is to say that you’ve almost certainly never played this game, and you absolutely should.
This game, like all entries in the Persona/Shin Megami Tensei universe, features a group of plucky young heroes unlocking their potential through manifestations of their psyche. Also there is some saving the day involved, as well as some mysteries to solve. On top of all the intense combat and world-saving, you participate in various bonding rituals, social activities, and some light part-time work. It is the quintessential year in the life of an anime protagonist. P4 Golden takes place in the tiny town of Inaba, which is so small you can walk to school every day. There’s just… a lot more murder than you’d expect. An abundance of homicide to deal with.
Sleepy Little Homicide Hamlet
I won’t waste a ton of time on the compact guts of this game. Battles are either merciless or manageable, depending on your difficulty setting. Said settings are properly robust, with a detailed breakdown for every change listed at each level. A lot of the social gameplay and quality of life minutiae feels regressive if you’ve already played Persona 5 in any form. Little touches like the maps, the social stats, and the side quest system feel incomplete by comparison. On the other hand, you can level grind like crazy if you’re so inclined, with few restrictions. As for the graphics, well – they’re a whole separate story.
We’re working with a PS Vita port, which is itself a port of a PS2 game. The original title came out way back in 2008. While everything has been cleaned up and coded for proper size screens with many more pixels, the bones cannot be concealed. As long as you’re in battle or a cut scene, you don’t even notice. But once the fighting is done, the game world looks quite dated. Although I can’t linger on this for that long. Graphics have never been the focus for me in Persona games. I’m more compelled by the mechanics, the writing, and the music. The soundtrack still rocks, by the way. Setting aside nagging concerns about visual fidelity, it’s still easy to get fully lost in these infectious tunes.
So what’s new in this latest version of the game? That depends on how ‘new’ we’re talking here. P4 Golden has reams of content to differentiate itself from Persona 4. There’s new dungeons, new Social Links, new endings, new Persona, new events, new cutscenes, and new areas to explore. They also implemented that helpful difficulty slider in this version. On the other hand, the properly new PC version has less to offer. There are Steam achievements, an unlocked frame rate, better resolution support and more control options. In other words, if you’ve played P4 Golden before, there’s little incentive for another run through the game. For me, there was another downside to the this version of the game, which was the timing of its release.
The Vita’s Best Release
Persona 5 Royal came out a little less than three months ago. You can read my review for that game here. While it was (and remains) an excellent title, my time between the games was such that I’m the tiniest bit burnt out. I know this game’s blend of punishing combat, excellent writing, complex progression, and bouncy tunes is a slam dunk on its own merits. But P5 Royal is still very clear in the rearview mirror. I know it’s unfair, but this steals the shine of Golden, just a little bit. My only advice to you, the reader, is to not dive immediately into a second Persona game after finishing a separate one. You will be doing yourself a terrible disservice, as a result.
Atlus RPGs are not for everyone by any means. This one, in particular, is even less for everyone than most of them. And yet…! If you are a Persona fan who hasn’t played one of these games in a while, who also missed out on Golden, then this game will be perfect for you. If even one of these conditions isn’t met, I can’t promise you’ll enjoy this ride. If you’ve somehow never played a Persona game, then welcome! This is a prime place to start. Golden is the superlative version of this entry in the series. There’s nowhere else you’ll find such an expert mix of ruthless battles, lovely social interactions, and awesome music. First-time players of all varieties would do well to snag Persona 4 Golden on the PC.
***A Steam key was provided by the publisher***
- Golden version almost a new game
- Robust PC resolution options
- Music still terrific
- Graphics showing their age
- Beware Persona fatigue
- No real changes from Vita Version