Persona 4 Golden review: A welcome change of pace from Persona 5

Persona 4 Golden review: A welcome change of pace from Persona 5
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A calming atmosphere prevails at the beginning. Person 4 Gold. The protagonist isn’t navigating a sprawling Shibuya or the Sangenjaya-inspired streets leading to it Person 5Cafe Leblanc’s. Instead, he is on a train going in the opposite direction to spend a year in the countryside, leaving the bustling city behind.

First released on PlayStation 2 in 2008, Person 4 It will soon be available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation consoles, and Xbox consoles, with the latter via Game Pass. Except for the 2020 PC port, it marks a new era for the Japanese role-playing classic that’s nearly out of reach for anyone without a PS2 disc or PlayStation Vita. It’s a hunch, an idyllic adventure, and a completely different tone from the urban sequel.

Inaba is nothing like Tokyo. You can easily see everything the town has to offer in a day or a few in-game minutes. But its slower pace makes the seemingly mundane aspects of rural life even more appealing. As a result, your connections with both the people and the town are more intimate. And as danger begins to loom in the background, the risks become more personal as a result.

It helps that the protagonist has a much more grounded backstory than that. Person 5Joker. He transferred not because of probation period, but because his family moved abroad for business purposes. His uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, along with his cousin Nanako, welcomes him with open arms to a cozy home. He does not have to live in the attic, he is not welcomed by everyone he meets because of his “criminal” past. It might have been a pleasant, idyllic getaway had it not been for the series of murders and disappearances that occurred soon after he arrived.

The hero meets Yosuke while cycling in Persona 4 Golden on Nintendo Switch.

Image: Atlus/Sega via polygon

Ominous events shock the townspeople of Inaba, especially the students of Yasogami High. Yosuke Hanamura, the party’s first new member or confidant, was particularly close to one of the murder victims. This encourages the protagonist to form a group and explore with Yosuke and a few other students.

The team soon discover something called the “Midnight Channel”, which foretells the death of anyone appearing on the screen. Thus begins a countdown on your calendar, a period in which you must fully explore a dungeon and defeat the final boss before a deadly fog descends. Instead of exploring the palaces of corrupt adults and shitty political figures Person 5dungeons here are (mostly) focused on people close to you.

palaces Person 5 It’s equally extravagant and foreboding, and often features set pieces and puzzle motifs to disrupt turn-based combat encounters. Person 4 Gold‘with dungeons will feel more like Mementos parts of the game. Person 5 – procedurally generated mazes with intermittent battles. They’re feeling a bit monotonous in 2023. But by pushing you into the psycho-scenes of your close friends who are forced to mirror their hopes, fears, and goals, Person 4 It offers a more introspective experience than the sequel. A cathartic story about self-reflection and honesty.

Hero's personality awakens in Persona 4 Golden on Nintendo Switch

Image: Atlus/Sega via polygon

You’re free to spend your evenings and holidays however you want, when you’re not going to prison, going to school, or investigating crimes. A wide range of activities are at your disposal, from sports and cultural clubs to a long list of secondary missions. Some focus solely on increasing your stats, while others can unlock new features, such as a few specific part-time jobs. Social Connections completely. Often times, you will earn points for both progression systems at once, resulting in a synergy that makes a satisfying use of time.

spreading Person 5I completely skipped events and even secondary locations. Inside Person 4 Gold it is easier to devote time to banal tasks with your confidants. It’s also easier to linger in the nooks and crannies of Inaba, connecting to quiet corners where you talk to a confidant: the rather plain riverbank where you and Chie practice fighting; the restaurant where you dine dozens of times, selling a special bowl on rainy days; or a table in Junes’ dining room where the group triumphs and reflect on past mistakes.

if you missed Person 4 Gold It feels right at home on PlayStation Vita or Steam, Nintendo Switch (the version I tried myself). Visuals are crisp in both handheld and docked modes, there are plenty of quality-of-life settings around difficulty options and save files, and it often runs at 60 frames per second, except for scenes with fog.

The hero and Chie face off against two demons in a dungeon in Persona 4 Golden on Nintendo Switch

Image: Atlus/Sega via polygon

Unfortunately, Person 4The more problematic content has not been updated or revised in its new iteration. Still stuck with sexism tropicsand its representation queer characters remain missing at best and damaging at worst. It may be easier than ever to pick up and play, but its content is still difficult to digest at times.

Some people will understandably give up on all of this. Still, despite all the flaws in his script, Person 4 Gold manages to extract candid stories from other veins. Person 5 Royal is is a real amusement park with side activities this can be overwhelming at times. But in Inaba, fewer distractions allow you to focus much more closely on your bonds. It will take some getting used to being away from the city, especially when there isn’t a smartphone constantly buzzing to let you know where everyone is at all times. But one is not needed. It is inevitable that you will meet a friendly face on your way to the riverbank.

Person 4 Gold Game 19 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X, due to be released in January, was reviewed on Switch using a pre-release download code provided by Sega. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect editorial content, but Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy is here.

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