120 Hours Later: Persona 4 Golden Review

Persona 4 Golden

I’ll be honest with you. I just needed an excuse to finally buy a Playstation Vita. It’s got touchscreens…everywhere! Luckily, Atlus decided to re-release one of the greatest RPGs of the last 10 years on the Vita with hours of extra content. Every review will tell you that Persona 4 Golden is one of the best RPGs of the year, and they are not exaggerating in the slightest. I played 50 hours of Persona 3 Portable, and I wanted to off myself by chucking the PSP into my own bathwater. Persona 4 Golden fixes everything wrong with P3P, improves what was right with the original release and then packs it all into a convenient portable. It is the most complete portable experience I’ve had to date.

One of the strongest assets that the game has going for it is its characters. I’m a man who enjoys his stories and damn if I didn’t love every second I spent with these kids. It takes quite a game to make me want to study for midterms so I can get the highest grade in the class, effectively earning the love and respect of my virtual peers. I admit that I’ve never been a fan of the silent protagonist. If I never communicated to my friends and coworkers with more than a nod and simply stared at them with dead eyes whenever they spoke to me, they’d have me committed.  However , this game does a great job of building a world around the main character that helps define who you are by what you do and who you do it with. Not since Dragon Age have I felt compelled to act a certain way as to build and preserve relationships with my teammates, because I actually care how they feel toward me and our mission. How do you make me love you so?

When I first began the game, I went into it with an experimental mindset; I wanted to try everything and find out as much as I could about all of the characters. What I ended up doing, however, was primarily pursuing the characters that I cared for most and ensuring that I spent the necessary amount of time with each of them. It’s not as though my very first friend in town would resent me because he’s still having masturbatory fantasies about the pop idol that I could spend an evening with at a moment’s notice. Yet, I felt a sense of loyalty to the characters after all that we had been through and learned about each other in the process. I had one romantic interest despite being able to court most of the female characters and juggle 5 girlfriends at a time. What kind of filthy love monster could stand to see the look on the girls’ faces when Valentine’s Day rolls around and they all realize that you’ve got someone else on the side?

Source: neogaf.com

Every good game has to have solid gameplay mechanics at its core, and P4G does not disappoint in this department. I got a taste of what the Persona series was about when I played P3P, but P4G manages to take things to the next level. From the ever-evolving battle system to the incredible music, this game draws you into its world, and it will suck the hours out of you like a Dutch whore on a slow day. I can’t count how many days I sought to just turn on my Vita for a quick session and ended up playing all night until I was on the verge of vomiting from lack of sleep. The dungeons never get stale and, for those occasions when you do want to just cruise through a dungeon to grind some levels, you have the Rush option. This allows you to set your characters to auto-attack their way through battles so you can engage an enemy then sit back and relax while they gain experience. Honestly, this isn’t a mechanic that I made much use of, as I still loved selecting my attacks and watching the devastation, even after 100+ hours of gameplay. The time invested in grinding up your party is totally worth it when you hit that next level and are finally able to fuse together your personae into the cock monster for which you’ve been waiting. Yes, there really is a cock monster persona and he’s as veiny and horrifying as I’m sure you are now imagining.

Of course, there is the music, the heart of any core Persona game. The eerie instrumentals of Persona 3 have been swapped out for the upbeat tunes of Persona 4. This story is much more lighthearted than its predecessor and the scores convey this point to a tee. There were times when I would run around town simply to hear the jazzy melody and cheerful vocals of “heartbreak, heartbreak.” Of course, there was quite a bit of time when I thought that the Japanese singer was chanting “hungry, hungry,” and I often found myself putting down my Vita in search of a snack. One of the more iconic tunes from the series has to be the operatic aria of the Velvet Room. I swear this song was designed to be belted out in the shower as I so frequently do. The soundtrack gets in your head and, unlike many games, it’s a very good thing. From the heavy bass thumping of the strip club level to the chiptune track of the 16-bit video game stage, each dungeon has its own unique theme and accompanying score to set the tone. Persona 3 Portable’s lack of both of these points, quickly highlighting the repetitive nature of the dungeon crawling portion of the game. Persona 4 Golden sets the standard for what a Persona game should be in the future.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I loved this game. I would recommend it to all my friends, and I would help them study for the in-game midterms if they needed. Persona 4 Golden is an incredibly well made game, and it is a wonder that so much content was packed into a portable cartridge. That being said, I was also blinded with uncontrollable rage when I realized in the final chapter of the game that I had missed a vital event which would have unlocked the final dungeon of additional content. I started my saves over multiple times and scoured the internet in hopes of finding the correct cues to unlock it. Alas, I had simply missed my opportunity, and none of my saves were far back enough to get a second chance. So, after a few (read: many) drinks and a failed attempt at pleading with my Vita to just simply let me into the god-damned dungeon, I proceeded on to the final scenes of the game. Somehow, Atlus, somehow, you managed to end the game in a way that dried up my bloody tears and put a smile back on my face, circa Joker of The Dark Knight.  It was a great ride, kids, and it was finally over. But dammit, we will always be friends.

Jon Malloy

Jon Malloy

Senior Writer & Editor at What's Jump?
Jon is a writer and co-founder of “What’s Jump?” With a passion for gaming, comedy, and discussion, Jon works to bring his unique views, along with a bit of humor, to his writing. With a background in information technology and development, his interests lean toward the newest trends and technological advancements. Reporting for “What’s Jump?” he is at home both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
Jon Malloy
Jon Malloy

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