Persona 4 Golden (PC) Review

By Brandon (Michael) Howard 13.06.2020

Review for Persona 4 Golden on PC

Persona 4 Golden originally released on the Vita eight years ago, offering some nice improvements to the PS2 original. It's already easily a sixty-hour game, and the addition of the spring term added some great finishing touches to the cast's character arcs. Atlus has delivered an absolutely fantastic port with this release on Steam, and players who missed out on the Vita remake, or just want a chance to revisit foggy Inaba, will surely love reaching out to the truth all over again.

As a series, Persona has always put a heavy emphasis on the relation people have to the world around them. While the most recent title in the series, Persona 5, put that emphasis on the relation people have with how society views them, Persona 4 Golden takes a more introspective approach. The protagonists this time around are still concerned with how others view them, but their struggle is far more defined in the dissonance of how they present themselves versus how they want to be seen.

This is one of the core elements of Persona 4 Golden's narrative, and it still holds a lot of weight as a solid coming of age narrative. The highs of its story are the impactful character moments, both through the main party and the diverse cast of side characters encountered in the rural town of Inaba. The main story is honestly just a year-long framework to hold all of these smaller, individual narratives contained in the Social Link system, and after 12 years, it's starting to show its flaws in execution.

Screenshot for Persona 4 Golden on PC

The setting of a foggy, rural town, far removed from the hustle of the city, is a far cry from the glitz and glam of Persona 5, at least for fans who entered the series at its most modern point. Golden's setting is one of mystery set behind an air of melancholy, and it really makes for a fantastic atmosphere to contemplate the roles and actions each character plays within the world. It does have the unfortunate side effect of making their character flaws more apparent as well, but that's all part of the teenage experience.

The atmosphere in Inaba is honestly one of the most compelling aspects of the title. The subdued soundtrack playing "Heartbeat, Heartbreak" as the protagonist wanders the flood plains of Inaba, contemplating the nature of the murder mystery he's stumbled into, really makes for one of the most memorable RPG settings in recent memory. The marriage of the setting, score, and characters really is what sells Persona 4 Golden's whole experience, and what really gives it a lasting place in many hearts.

On the combat side of things, not a lot has changed from the PS2 original. The "Press Turn" system that's a staple of the MegTen series is here as always, rewarding players who manage to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. The party is still locked behind various dates in the game's year-long run, so a lot of party customisation will be locked to the protagonist, and his ability to cycle through different move-sets for a good chunk of the game. This has always been one of the flaws in the calendar-based approach the series takes to progression, and it's especially noticeable on multiple playthroughs.

Screenshot for Persona 4 Golden on PC

Persona 4 Golden does offer some nice options for customising your party's Personas, something not often seen in the series. Party members can be brought along to movie showing or bike rides, allowing for chances to gain new and varied skills they wouldn't normally have access to. Each party member can also fully awaken their Persona to a third form upon completion of their Social Link, and, reaching the story's final arc, granting them an additional, unique skill.

The biggest additions here are the introduction of two new major social links, featuring Adachi, the sometimes-bumbling police detective, and new character Marie. While Adachi's link does a lot to compliment the story and flesh out his character motivations, Marie's is a little less convincing. Marie didn't exist in the original game, and her role here doesn't really feel like it adds a whole lot to the narrative. While she does play a pivotal role in the post-climax story, it's pretty clear that the narrative tension ended far before she became the focal point of the story.

Screenshot for Persona 4 Golden on PC

This is where Persona 4 Golden has a bit of a hard time justifying its own existence. The narrative in the original is so well-contained and tight, adding an additional arc with a whole new player taking a starring role doesn't really give the story time to develop the tension it needs to let Marie or the cast shine in their last act. Wrapping up the personal growth arcs of the main cast with a final Persona evolution is wonderful, but there's very little payoff when they really only get one dungeon to play in, and that one dungeon is one of the lowest points.

Persona 4 Golden on Steam is a flawless port of a fantastic game, and honestly, it's probably the definitive way to experience what was easily one the greatest RPGs of its generation. The controls work perfectly, the audio sounds great (although some audio issues were encountered when switching between audio sources), and, visually, it's looking great for something that's over a decade old. Whether this is your first time with Golden, or you're just looking for a new way to revisit one of the most iconic Persona titles, this is a fantastic way to experience the mystery all over again.

Screenshot for Persona 4 Golden on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Twelve years later, and the dreary little world of Persona 4 Golden is as captivating as it's ever been. Having it on Steam is a wonderful boon to its accessibility, given the limited range the Vita and PSTV had, and this port more than does it justice. The elements unique to the expanded rerelease may not add much to the experience, but there's no doubt that this should be on everyone's list of must-play RPGs.

Developer

Atlus

Publisher

Atlus

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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