Published on July 9th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley0
Should you play Persona 4 Golden?
TL;DR – Yes
One of the most loved games (and latest released) on the PS2, Persona 4 was lauded for its intelligent story and fantastic gameplay, but hell, if you like Shin Megami Tensei games you know you’re going to love this, but what about people who haven’t the foggiest what I am on about?
I haven’t played many of this series myself, but after falling for Persona 3 I went and played Digital Devil Saga 1 and went on to play Persona 4 Golden. I won’t lie, these games aren’t for everyone, but hark! Don’t assume that because it’s a marmite kind of deal, if you don’t like the sound of it, you won’t like it, because this game can really catch you out.
So, Shin Megami Tensei, known as SMT or ‘Megaten’ is a series of dark RPGs set in the modern world where the core battle system revolves around enticing demons to be your friends. And saving the world. The Persona series is an off-shoot of this that is usually set in a high school and is about maintaining social friendships in a sim-style and dungeon-crawling at night earning new demons/personas through finding cards.
So, I can already feel that it’s losing appeal and usually I might follow up here with some brilliant defence or insight, but I won’t. There isn’t any. This game is that good even with that poor overview.
Managing social links in the daytime levels up the connections of your demons at night, through fusing demons together you get more powerful demons and exploring more dungeons gets access to better stuff, etc, etc.
There are lots of friendships to be made and if you like you can choose to completely ignore most of them, even with the clear-cut buddies that you’re obviously meant to be hanging around with. Consequently that could mean you will have some pretty crappy demons to use in the dungeon, but the choice is there.
Girlfriends, oh yes, there are those. The game is a 15 or something, so there’s no nudity or anything really exciting, however the game does waive this kind of prudish-ness with some of the Personas, such as – Succubus, Lamia, Incubus for the ladies (Oh yeah, I couldn’t sleep dry for weeks) and my favourite, Mara, the Penis Chariot.
Hanging around with a lady enough levels up the relationship and when it gets to level 8 then things get serious and they say all sorts of saucy stuff like… “I want to protect you”, “My head’s all messed up” and my favourite, “Why are you always with me?”. Oh, the jollies…
The story of Persona 4 is a murder-mystery, people are getting sucked into TVs and dying like some kind of reverse-Ringu minus the lanky lady and it’s up to you! Nameless Protagonist! To save them!
Naturally, there is a killer out there so I won’t be going into too many details because of these new-fangled spoiler thingamajiggies, although Atlus doesnae seem to give a toss, as it continually shares loads of spoilerific stuff thanks to the super, duper crumpet version of the Persona 4 fighting game they’re releasing, so don’t check that out.
The battles are turn-based RPG fare, the series is notably known as being more difficult than other RPGs but it’s manageable with use of elemental weaknesses and creating stronger persona as well as levelling. The dungeons are long and the map is randomised having come from dungeon-crawling a la Wizardry roots, enemies appear on-screen and can be attacked for an advantage in battle.
There are some pretty big downfalls in the series, music for one. I personally like it, but I can also agree it’s because it’s only because it’s so utterly repugnant as to become hilariously synonymous with the game, often jarringly so. It’s very poppy and has lots of trumpets in, which is rather weird.
Something to take into consideration when playing any Shin Megami Tensei title, they’re horrendously long for an RPG and I finished this one clocking about 80 hours. When I played Persona 3 it took 140 but I think at least 50 of those hours were due to me sucking and getting confused.
If you can overcome all of this, you will find a deep and dramatic story and characters which explore lots of dark, taboo themes without the pretension that other games have. The game pokes fun at other games at times including RPGs and has a rather odd sense of humour which is pervasive throughout. It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s certainly worth pouring at least 10 or so hours in just to make sure, because if you do like Persona 4, you will agree it is one of the most rewarding games you could ever play.