Originally released as one of the Playstation 2’s last must play titles, Persona 4 was not only a brilliant game in it own right, but responsible for finishing the journey of taking the Shin Megami Tensei/Persona series from one of the most niche in gaming to one of the best. Now Persona 4’s back from the playstation vita, bringing all the action and life simulation along with it.
The basic story remains the same: Shortly after the main character is transferred to the quiet town of Inaba for a years school a strange murder takes place and a rumour is heard that you can see your soul mate on the television at midnight on rainy nights. Upon doing so however, you’re soon sucked into the tv and into a shadow world full of demons and find the murder is taking place within the world. So it’s up to you and your friends to put a stop to it.
Of course the above is a very short synopsis of the story presented in Persona 4:Golden. There’s plenty of plot twists, wonderful characters and beautifully written chunks of story to get through your playthrough with many hours being dedicated to keeping your grades up, your social links high and hanging out with your friends. Although it may sound (and perhaps even seem) monotonous at first, you’ll soon get sucked into the world due the games brilliant atmosphere and superb writing.
Being an RPG, you’ll be doing a lot of fighting – and combat happens exclusively in the ‘TV World’. This is structurally a very good move – Giving you a time and place to focus all of your combat within this tv world means you’re prepared and ready to buckle down in the TV World and completely focused on your given task.
By default your party is controlled by (mostly very clever) AI, with you only controlling the main character’s actions. For those who must control every move in battle (and that certainly makes the boss battles easier) you can override and directly control any and all of your party as required. Battles are turn based, with each Persona having an element assigned to them with both strengths and weaknesses (Fire beats Ice, Ice weak against fire etc). The main character is unique with the ability to use multiple persona’s, making him the most versatile in the party while urging you to collect, fuse and train a number of powerful Persona to help deal with any occasion.
Persona 4 Golden also adds in new combination and special attacks, where certain pairs of characters or a character not in the current party will attack as a pair or solo after an All-Out-Attack, caused after knocking every enemy down by exploiting the enemies weakness. Not a big change but the extra enemy damage is very welcome and the excellent combat system in Persona 4 certainly didn’t need changing.
After a successful battle, you have an opportunity of ‘Shuffle Time’ – Essentially a number of cards are presented with various attribute changes, new personas and skill cards to be collected. Certain cards give you the chance to pick up more cards before the counter runs out, with the aim of Shuffle Time to pick up all the cards and gain a bonus for the next Shuffle Time. It’s certainly a fun little post battle mode that keeps you motivated to keep battling.
New Persona can be earned via Shuffle Time, but the best are made via fusion. Essentially by fusing some of your existing Persona together, a new, stronger persona is formed – With a set number of abilities being inherited from the fused Persona. A great addition to Persona 4 Golden is the ability to choose which skills are passed on (compared to the original’s random!) as well as two new Arcana (i.e.. Type of Persona): The Aeon and Jester.
Of course the combat’s only one side of Persona 4. The main character has a year of school to attend and the game plays with everything you’ll encounter at school: friends, clubs, trips and of course exams are all part of the game and it’s up to you as to where you spend your time (Spend the week before exams studying to increase your knowledge or hanging out with your friends to improve your social links?). There’s also a number of special ‘outings’ and trips, some new to Persona 4:Golden and all are very well written. The writing’s been mentioned a couple of times in this review and that’s because it’s simply superb – With a brilliant voice work and localization throughout.
Visually Persona 4:Golden is very much the same as it’s Playstation 2 counterpart. That’s not a bad thing however, as the graphics are still very good and with the varied and bright colours really come to life on the Vita’s screen.
Overall Persona 4:Golden is quite simply one of the best reasons to own a Playstation Vita. With enough new content to truly call Persona 4: Golden the definite version of Persona 4, a brilliant game has been made even better.
+ Fantastic writing
+ Excellent combat system
+ Fantastic voice acting
+ Nice range of difficulties
- Goodbye real social life, you don’t increase my social links!
Please note: Persona 4:Golden US copy was reviewed, with the UK version planned to release February 2013.