Get Ready For A Gold Rush
It’s hard to believe it’s already been eight years since Persona 4 Golden made its debut on the PlayStation Vita. In case you’re unfamiliar with the game, like the recently released Persona 5 Royal, Persona 4 Golden is an enhanced port of Persona 4 that adds a wealth of fresh content to the critically acclaimed 2008 PS2 JRPG, including new social links, dungeons, endings, and more. Unfortunately, despite being a stellar update, the game was never released outside the PlayStation Vita – a platform that Sony themselves abandoned shortly after its release – which prevented Persona 4 Golden from garnering quite the attention it deserved.
Thankfully, that’s all about to change as Persona 4 Golden is now available on PC. So if you were trapped in a creepy TV world for the past few years or just happened to miss out on the game when it first released on the Vita, now’s your chance to enjoy the definitive version of what’s arguably one of the best entries in the franchise’s history.
Welcome Back To The Velvet Room
Persona 4 Golden’s story takes place in the rural Japanese town of Inaba. After transferring from the city to stay with his uncle for a year, the game’s protagonist and his friends discover they have the power to wield Personas – powerful forms of their true selves – after becoming entangled in a series of mysterious serial murders.
Of course, being school kids and all, saving the residents of Inaba from dying at the hands of a shadowy killer is something of a part-time job for the investigation team. During the day, you’ll spend your time forging relationships with the various locals you meet, studying for tests, and wasting time at the local department store’s food court. However, when you’re not living your average high school student life, you’ll have to make time to explore the Midnight Channel – an eerie dimension found within the TV that he’s using to murder his victims.
If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. There’s so much to do in Persona 4 Golden that it’s impossible to see everything there is to offer in a single playthrough. Every action you perform takes time – which is a limited resource in this game, as the story concludes on a specific calendar date. Having played through both Persona 4 and P4G several times before, I still found myself agonizing over which characters to spend my time with and what activities to do. That’s because these choices can impact the experience in so many ways, such as strengthening your ability to create certain types of Personas, unlock new support abilities, and even lead to a new ending and dungeon to explore. It’s incredibly addictive and just as much fun now as it was when Persona 4 first released over a decade ago.
Thankfully, Persona 4 Golden is a game that respects your time. ATLUS has added several subtle tweaks to make the game move at a steady clip compared to the original PS2 release. For starters, dying in The Midnight Channel no longer takes you back to the game’s title screen, forcing you to load your previous save and potentially costing you hours of progress. Instead, you’re now able to start from the beginning of the floor where you died. How’s that for convenience?
Additionally, Persona 4 Golden also introduces the ability to fast travel around Inaba. Clearly intended to cater to the quick-fix nature of the handheld release, this welcome feature dramatically cuts down on time spent wandering from one part of town to another to complete quests, meet social links, and accomplish other objectives. It’s also hugely helpful for those who’ve played the previous game and just want to dive into the new content as quickly as possible.
Persona 4 Golden also adds a few neat social features to the core package. The S.O.S. system allows you to call for help from other players who are actively playing the game. Those who respond can send you a small amount of health that can help get you out of a sticky situation. However, the paltry amount of health you gain when using this feature means you’d have to abuse it pretty much to see substantial results. Another online feature the game introduces is the Vox Populi system. Activating this allows shows you what other players did on that particular day, potentially giving you some insight into which activities and social links are available at that specific time.
All That Glitters
Considering how long it’s been since Persona 4 Golden first released, you might expect the PC port to be a substantial update over the Vita version. If that’s the case, you might want to dial down your expectations a little bit. Persona 4 Golden on PC is essentially a 1:1 conversion of the 2012 handheld title with minor enhancements. These subtle improvements include support for full HD resolutions, a variable framerate, and the addition of a Japanese voice track, which was missing from the western Vita release.
Given how great Persona 4 Golden looks to this day, I really can’t complain about the game’s visuals. However, the PC port does suffer from some annoying blurring effects when your character is in motion, which can be distracting at times. Despite toying with all of the game’s various settings, I was unable to resolve this issue. Additionally, I found the game to stutter in spots – with the most notable occasion being right before the party would perform an all-out attack – when playing on my gaming laptop equipped with a GTX 1070. While it’s hardly the newest card out there, I did find it surprising that a machine that runs most newer releases on high settings without any issues seemed to occasionally struggle with a nearly decade-old Vita port of a PS2 title.
Still, these dips in performance were infrequent and never bothered me enough to impact my overall enjoyment of Persona 4 Golden on PC. After all, I was just happy to finally have the chance to play Persona 4 Golden on my big screen without needing to dust off my poor, neglected PlayStation TV.
Persona 4 Golden Is An Adventure You’ll Treasure
Having enjoyed Persona 4’s story on three different platforms now, playing Persona 4 Golden on PC feels like being reunited with old friends. I loved every minute of my return to Inaba, which is saying something when given the fact the main story takes roughly 100 hours to complete. But that’s just a testament to how much of an enduring masterpiece it is. It’s a sublime mix of satisfying dungeon-crawling and superb storytelling that will keep engaged from start to finish. With a new dungeon to conquer, more social links to grow, endings to uncover, and activities than ever before, it’s hands-down the definitive version of what’s arguably one of the best JRPGs of all time.
But that’s not to say it’s perfect. Persona 4 Golden on PC could probably benefit from some added optimization. The occasional blurry visuals and dips in performance are surprising missteps that slightly blemish what is otherwise an outstanding game. But it’s easy to overlook its minor quirks when considering just how engrossing of an experience the game offers. If you’re an RPG fan who somehow managed to miss out on the original release, then adding this to your Steam library should be a no-brainer. And if you already played and enjoyed Persona 4 but have yet to see everything Persona 4 Golden has to offer because you didn’t own Vita or a PlayStation TV, then there’s never been a better time to tune into the Midnight Channel.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC (reviewed), Vita; Publisher: Atlus; Developer: Atlus; Players: 1; Released: June 13, 2020; MSRP: $19.99 (Standard Edition) $24.99 (Deluxe Edition)
Editor’s note: A review code was given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.