Welcome back to another 5&1 Review. This time, I’ll be looking at one of the must have Vita RPGs and probably one of the best Vita games out there, Persona 4: Golden.
Persona 4: Golden
What is the game: The latest entry in the Persona series from Atlus. The game is actually a re-release of the PS2 game with some new additions and improvements. Overall gameplay and story remain unchanged, but a few new social links are added it. The long story short is that one of the best PS2 RPGs out there is now portable.
How does it work: The game is basically two separate parts. You have the traditional RPG on the outside, where you go through randomly-generated dungeons in the TV world, and you also have the social life manager on the inside, which actually will take up more time overall.
The game takes place in the Japanese town of Inaba, where your character moves from the main city. You stand out for about a day before weird deaths start happening and a channel called the Midnight Channel appears. After finding out he can go into the TV and having a friend get kidnapped, the trio of your character, Yosuke and Chie set out to rescue her and try to solve the mystery of the channel.
Along the way you’ll meet plenty of memorable characters, like Teddie in the TV world. Most of these characters can have social bonds formed and strengthened outside of the TV world that let you create better personas with bigger boosts. In addition, some of the characters can even be dated as well.
This is actually a part of the social interaction the game features. Besides making friends and strengthening relationships, players can read books, work, fish, eat and more to increase various attributes. Monitoring what you want to do outside of the TV and balancing going into the TV to save people becomes key as the days go by and the rain nears, meaning fog will set in to possibly kill the person in the TV, making it automatic game over. While you can wait for a day before the fog to rescue someone in most situations, it’s often better to do a day in the TV here or there to progress your team of four closer before leaving.
Now that I’ve talked about the social interactions, let’s go back inside the TV and talk about combat and personas. The combat itself is simple enough for RPG fans to quickly grasp. While running around dungeons you’ll see shadows roaming about. You can hit these shadows with your weapon to get an advantage, or get hit from behind to get a disadvantage.
In combat, you can either use a normal attack, defend or use a skill based on the persona you have equipped. Teammates will normally auto-attack and automatically use skills, which take up SP, but you can set that to manual if desired. In addition, you can always use rush to make everyone on your team just use normal attacks on enemies.
Now that I’ve mentioned them a few times, let me elaborate on personas. They are spirits each character has that are a reflection of themselves, but only the main character can change his persona. Each one has various skills they can learn as they level up, along with special skills from increasing social links. Personas also have various strengths and weaknesses to different elements.
In addition, personas can be stored and resummoned from a collection in the Velvet Room for some money, and can also be used to combine and make new, stronger personas. During the combination process you can often transfer skills down to the new persona, along with sometimes getting extra boosts depending on what day it is and your skill link. It sounds complicated, but the game breaks down what personas you can make with what personas you have in your stock and makes the overall process easy.
Trying to get all the personas and make the rare ones became a game in itself to me, almost like an adult version of Pokémon. Trying to get all the base ones from enemies you need to make rarer ones can be a task by using the Shuffle Time you can sometimes hit at the end of battles, but finding that one persona needed for a great upgrade can make it all worthwhile.
For fans of the original game, you already knew everything I mentioned above. What you want to know is what’s new. First off, a Very Easy and Very Hard mode has been added to the game, along with two new social links to master: Marie, a character exclusive to the game found in the Velvet Room, and Adachi, the young detective. Both links give new story content, along with new dungeons and scenes for the three endings you can unlock.
In addition, new personas have been added to the game, as well as English voices for Chie and Teddie. Some new areas, like Okina City and a ski resort, are also available and new events will take use of these. Inaba can also be explored at night as well.
The biggest change to the game may be the addition of some online features. There’s two new features here: the Vox Pouli, or Voice of the People, and SOS. The first can be accessed any time after school or at night. It lets you see other choices players have made during that time to either help influence your decision or just see if you’re going to make the social choice most other players did. It can also be used during the Velvet Room to see what personas someone else made.
Meanwhile, the SOS feature can be used in the dungeons to call for help if your health or spirit is low. Players can respond to send you a bit of restoration, and you can respond to theirs to do the same. It isn’t much of an increase, but it can help slowly refill the bar of overactive AI spirit users.
Overall, the new additions add enough to make it worthwhile for even fans of the previous title to come back and see what’s new. The game is still great, and the additions just help make it better.
Why should you care: Because Persona 4 was already one of the best RPGs out there, and Golden makes plenty of improvements to make it more enjoyable. The game offers at the minimum about 60 hours of gameplay, so you’ll have no shortage of gameplay for a while. Plus, veterans of the series should at least check out the new social links in the game, to see some interesting additions.
Who should buy it: Anyone that has a Vita and likes RPG titles. If you don’t have a Vita right now, you can always check out the game on PS2. However, the improvements for the Vita version makes Golden a better choice.
When should you get it: If you have a Vita and have even a slight like of RPGs, then you should get it as soon as possible. It’s the top RPG out there for the system right now, and will take you a ton of time to full complete. May as well get started on it sooner rather than later.
Where is it available: All major retailers and the PlayStation Network for $39.99. You may be able to find a used copy if $5 really matters that much, but considering how long it is and how much you should support Atlus on this, definitely stick with new.