Brings a certain uniqueness to the JRPG scene
So here we have a Japanese RPG which is set in a more modern-era (In the context of this game, more specifically, Japan). This title came out back in 2008 for the Playstation 2. An upgraded version called “Golden” was released for the PS Vita featuring enhancements such as new areas and a widescreen aspect ratio. This is a title that has received rave reviews over the years and garnered quite a following. This series, being based off of the Shin Megami Tensai series, seems to have molded into its own identity with each iteration.
So we have quite an intriguing tale to be told in this venture. We have a boy, who the player will name, that travels and lives with a family in a rural town called “Inaba”. Here is where he will build relations with the head of the house “Dojima” and his daughter. As time progresses their stories will further flesh out.
Eventually a series of incidents will take place and there will be a link to these mishaps to a channel on TV called a midnight channel. People in town who appear on the mystery channel will eventually be murdered or simply disappear.
You and friends who you meet during school and through your travels will come together and ponder on how to solve these incidents.
The story itself can have many endings with some happening much earlier than should be. This in itself can be quite confusing as some players may feel that this is how the game is suppose to end, which could lead to certain players being unsatisfied; there is still much more content as you progress toward the true ending. The story itself is quite well-written and the characters you encounter are very charming.
Persona will have you exploring various places in Inaba and eventually further out as well. You will play the typical life of a school boy and wake up in the morning and walk to school to go to lectures. The game is quite educational in its own was as you will have teachers constantly pick on you each day to answer real life questions. You will also be rewarded with knowledge points for providing the correct answer.
There are various ways for building your character based on common aspects such as Knowledge, Courage, Diligence and so forth. Each will play an integral role on how you bond with people you meet. That is one of the standout factors of Persona, how you can build bonds with people and have it affect your gameplay. Certain girls you will not be able to date until you build up enough factors such as “Courage”. You can build these traits by doing various activities or taking on part-time jobs. Not only will this help in your in-game social life but as you build-up your social bonds with people your character and “Personas” will grow stronger as well.
Persona’s are monsters you acquire as you gain access to another dimension. This world the player will discover by gaining access through TVs due to the midnight channel broadcast. Once access to this world is granted you can explore dungeons and fight shadows to build experience in a typical JRPG fare.
This brings me to my personal main gripe with this game. The actual designs of the dungeons are repetitious and feel very cut and paste. Each dungeon you encounter will have specific themes based on the characters you are chasing after. Yet, you have to go through multiple floors with the exact same designs toward each boss. There will be slight variations at times, but not enough to make up for the lackluster randomly-generated level designs overall.
The battle system is very well done and has options such as setting your characters to automatically play for you. Characters are all voiced and will provide insight on how to go about defeating your enemies or healing certain people. Battles are colourful and fast-paced which is quite a joy to play.
The pacing in this game can be an issue as often you may find long droughts going from dungeons and actual story progression. During each dungeon you have the ability to travel back to the real world and continue building social links. After a dungeon is completed you will find that story events will take place in the real world for quite some time before your next romp in the TV world.
This is quite an old game but is a tad disappointing even by Playstation 2 and definitely PS Vita standards. The backgrounds are nice to look at some being pre-rendered and the character models seem to have quite a low polygon count, but the charm of the characters still pulls through during the on-screen artwork.
The art in this game itself is worthy of praise as the artwork – even by modern anime standards – is quite well done and unique. Each character is designed with his or her own fashion trend which suits their personality quite well.
Music in this game really shines through as it ranges from quite lively Japanese pop music to semi-cheesy guitar riffs as it plays throughout your exploration Inaba and battles in dungeons. This all adds to a certain level of identity to this particular series. Sound effects for attacks during battle are quite spot-on and add to a satisfying level of immersion.
There is plenty to be said about Persona 4 as there is plenty to discover and this will take well over a whopping 70 hours long to complete. Be sure to have the time to invest if you are willing to pursue this adventure. There are certainly many aspects of Persona 4 Golden that are charming and memorable, but it is hard to really recommend this to everyone because of the level-design really won’t be everybody’s cup of tea.
Alas, what you have hear is an evolution to the much needed JRPG formula through the use of social links. There is plenty to do besides the main story and you will be itching to build certain character bonds just to find out more of their backstory.
Platforms: PS Vita (Original on PS2)