Asoothing vibe permeates the beginning of Persona 4 Golden. The protagonist isn’t navigating a sprawling Shibuya or the Sangenjaya-inspired streets that lead to Persona 5’s Café Leblanc. Instead, he’s on a put together heading within the unsuitable means, leaving the crowded metropolis behind to spend a yr throughout the countryside.
Persona 4 will shortly be accessible on Nintendo Swap, PlayStation consoles, and Xbox consoles, the latter by means of Recreation Go. It marks a model new interval for the Japanese role-playing fundamental, which, apart from a 2020 PC port, has been all nevertheless inaccessible to anyone with out the PS2 disc or a PlayStation Vita. It’s a foreboding, pastoral journey, and it strikes an altogether fully completely different tone than its metropolis sequel.
Inaba is nothing like Tokyo. You could merely see each half the town has to provide inside a day — or the span of some in-game minutes. Nonetheless its slower tempo makes the seemingly mundane components of rural life the entire further compelling. Your connections, every with people and the town itself, are extra intimate due to this. And as quickly as hazard begins to loom throughout the background, the stakes turn into further non-public due to this.
It helps that the protagonist has a far more grounded backstory than Persona 5’s Joker. He’s not transferred as a consequence of probationary movement, nevertheless on account of his dad and mother moved abroad for work features. His uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, alongside his cousin Nanako, welcomes him with open arms in a comfortable dwelling. He isn’t pressured to remain in an attic, neither is he frowned upon by everyone he meets on account of his “jail” background. If it weren’t for the gathering of murders and disappearances that transpire correct after his arrival, it’d want been a pleasant, bucolic escape.
The sinister events come as a shock for the Inaba townsfolk — notably the students of Yasogami Extreme School. Yosuke Hanamura, the first new celebration member, or confidant, was significantly close to one in all many murder victims. This spurs the protagonist, along with Yosuke and various different completely different faculty college students, to variety a gaggle and look at.
The workforce shortly discovers one factor referred to as the “Midnight Channel,” which presages the lack of lifetime of anyone who reveals up on show display screen. Thus begins a countdown in your calendar, a interval by which you’ll wish to completely uncover a dungeon and defeat the last word boss sooner than a lethal fog models in. Instead of exploring the palaces of corrupt adults and shitty political figures à la Persona 5, dungeons listed below are (largely) focused on the oldsters close to you.
The palaces of Persona 5 are equal parts extravagant and foreboding, and typically comprise set objects and puzzle motifs to interrupt up turn-based combat encounters. Persona 4 Golden’s dungeons, alternatively, will actually really feel further identical to the Mementos sections of Persona 5 — procedurally generated labyrinths with intermittent battles. In 2023, they actually really feel a bit monotonous. Nonetheless by thrusting you into the psychoscapes of your shut friends, who’re pressured to hold a mirror as a lot as their hopes, fears, and targets, Persona 4 offers a further inward-looking experience than its sequel. It’s a cathartic story about self-reflection and honesty.
Everytime you’re not delving into dungeons, attending school, or investigating crime, you’re free to spend your evenings and days off nonetheless you need. There’s a wide array of actions at your disposal, from sports activities actions and cultural golf tools to an prolonged report of secondary quests. Some are focused solely on rising your stats, whereas others, like a few explicit part-time jobs, can unlock new Social Hyperlinks altogether. Oftentimes, you’ll be gaining components in direction of every growth strategies in a single go, which results in a synergy that makes for a satisfying use of time.
Throughout the sprawling Persona 5, I’ve skipped actions and even secondary locations solely. In Persona 4 Golden it’s easier to dedicate time to banal duties collectively along with your confidants. It’s moreover easier to linger in Inaba’s nooks and crannies, to develop related to the placid corners the place you spoke to a confidant: the gorgeous plain riverbank the place you and Chie comply with stopping collectively; the restaurant you’ve eaten at a dozen situations that sells a specific bowl all through moist days; or that one desk in Junes’ meals courtroom the place the group champions victories and shows on earlier errors.
For individuals who missed Persona 4 Golden on PlayStation Vita or Steam, it feels correct at dwelling on Nintendo Swap (the mannequin I tried myself). Visuals are crisp in every handheld and docked modes, there are lots of quality-of-life tweaks spherical situation decisions and save recordsdata, and it runs at 60 frames per second almost the entire time, aside from scenes involving fog.
Sadly, Persona 4’s further problematic content material materials hasn’t been updated or revised in its new iteration. It’s nonetheless mired in sexist tropes, and its illustration of queer characters stays lacking at most interesting, and harmful at worst. It is likely to be easier to pick up and play than ever sooner than, nevertheless its content material materials stays to be intermittently arduous to stomach.
Some people will understandably be delay by all of this. However, for all the problems in its script, Persona 4 Golden manages to mine heartfelt tales from completely different veins. Persona 5 Royal is a veritable amusement park of side actions which will usually be overwhelming. In Inaba, nonetheless, having fewer distractions allows you to focus in your bonds far more intently. It will possibly take some time to manage to being away from the city, significantly with no smartphone repeatedly buzzing to allow you to understand the place all individuals is all the time. Nonetheless there isn’t any such factor as a need for one. You’re sure to come back upon a pleasing face in your choice to the riverbank.