Author Topic: Persona 4 Golden (Switch) Review  (Read 312 times)

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Offline thedobaga

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Persona 4 Golden (Switch) Review
« on: January 17, 2023, 11:32:59 AM »

I'm sorry, Teddie... Only people have human rights.

Persona 4 originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2008, and for a portion of the fanbase it is considered to be where the series truly took off. While Persona 3 had been relatively popular in its time, people seemed to have fallen in love with the foggy streets of Inaba. This popularity only grew with Persona 4 Golden, an enhanced edition released for the PlayStation Vita in 2012. Until very recently these games were trapped on their respective systems, but for the first time ever Persona 4 has arrived on a Nintendo platform, meaning those who have likely gotten into the series with the wildly popular Persona 5 will have a shot at playing one of the two titles that technically started it all. What should those people expect from this now decade old title? To be honest, the smart choice would likely be to keep your expectations in check.

In Persona 4 you take control of a high school student who has transferred from his school in the city to the rural town of Inaba, where he will spend the next year of his life living with his uncle Dojima and cousin Nanako. He very quickly makes friends with some of the more eccentric students at his school like Yosuke Hanamura and Chie Satonaka. His peaceful country life is turned upside down rather quickly when a series of serial murders begin to happen in town, seemingly connected to a strange rumor about watching a blank TV at midnight on a rainy night, a phenomenon that is known as The Midnight Channel. Shortly after, the protagonist and his friends learn they have the ability to enter into TV screens, emerging into a sinister foggy world full of monsters called Shadows. People are being thrown into this world, and with no way to leave they are killed by the Shadows on days when it's foggy in the real world. The group of friends pledge to save anybody who gets thrown into the TV from there on, beginning a supernatural murder mystery that may well be one of the best narratives the RPG genre has to offer.

Gameplay in Persona 4 is split into two parts, the first being everyday life. Unlike the other characters on the team, the protagonist has the ability to change between multiple personas. One of the main ways of getting new personas is by fusing ones you already have, and the way to make this process more effective is by doing social links. Throughout the game you will encounter characters, including those in your party, who you can get to know through a ten part story of their own. Each character is represented by a different tarot arcana, and furthering your relationships with them will give any personas of that arcana that you fuse a burst of bonus XP once they're born. This mechanic is what really sets Persona apart from the other games in its genre, and the most memorable part of the game in general. Some social links are more interesting than others, with characters like Ai Ebihara having a phenomenal arc while Shu Nakajima is not exactly the most thrilling story to be a part of, but they are all overall worth your time and do a great job of giving you more emotional attachment to Inaba as a whole.

The other half of gameplay is the dungeon crawling inside the TV. Roughly every month somebody in town will be kidnapped, and you will have to venture into their dungeon in order to rescue them before the next foggy day. These are by far the weakest part of the game, made up of massive randomly generated floors that essentially make every dungeon in the game the same dungeon with a different coat of paint. Whenever they do try to have a small gimmick to set them apart, these wind up being more frustrating than interesting, such as requiring you to backtrack two floors to open a door or causing your camera to jolt in another direction every time you step into an intersection. Combat is overall intuitive and well put together, but is still not without its problems. As in other Persona titles hitting a Shadow with a type of attack it's weak to will give the character another turn while knocking that Shadow down. If all Shadows are knocked down, the party can initiate an all-out attack to inflict massive damage. If a downed enemy is hit with their weakness a second time, they will become dizzy and be forced to skip their next turn, but be warned that this can also happen to the people in your party. The issues with combat come in later dungeons when enemy types are seemingly built to be as annoying to fight as possible, with a lot of them only able to be hurt by one type of attack yet having an ability that makes it incredibly hard to hit them with that specific type, causing the whole fight to be even more up to RNG than usual.

In general Persona 4 is deserving of its spot on the list of best JRPGs ever made, but it absolutely shows its age. Those coming from Persona 5 will likely find many of the systems they're familiar with are present but in a much clunkier fashion. The bland dungeons and sudden difficulty spikes might also turn off new players, but if they can push through those they may find a thrilling murder mystery featuring some of my favorite narrative moments in the Persona series. Add this to an extremely likeable cast of characters like Kanji Tatsumi or Yukiko Amagi, as well as one of the most catchy soundtracks to ever be put into a video game, and you may well find yourself falling in love with Inaba. Despite all of its flaws, you might find that in the end you're actually sad to leave.