Persona 4 Golden (Guest Game Review by Aaron Faulkner)

"Here's an exciting game review of Persona 4 Golden, courtesy of my cousin Aaron Faulkner. He constantly tells me various reasons why I should get myself a PS Vita so I can play this game, and he's more or less already convinced me. Now he's written a review about the game, giving me even more reasons to play it. Be right back, selling my soul to Sony and Atlus." - Lewis

About a year and a bit ago I went to visit my cousin Lewis at my Nan's house as he was coming down for a visit due to the fact that he lives quite far away, however little did I know that he was bringing a certain game that would change my outlook on the JRPG genre.
He had brought a variety of great PS2 games with him including Haunting Grounds, but one stood out above the rest, this was a game called Persona 4. Now I never was a huge fan of Japanese RPG’s before this as I mostly stuck to western games due to the niche nature of Japanese titles and the big culture leap between the two but after seeing him play only a small section of the game I was hooked, not realising that this unassuming JRPG which I had never heard of would soon become my favourite video game of all time.
I had always loved choice within video games so the instant I saw that you could choose what to say to other characters and their reactions vary depending on how you respond I sat down and watched him for a couple of hours and absorbed as much of the game as I could but this just left me wanting more.
After Lewis had finished visiting for the day I went straight home, downloaded a PS2 emulator and Persona 4 and finished the game in little over a week, this was the start of my Persona addiction from then on I finished Persona 4 multiple times and tried to complete as much of the game as I could and then moved onto the previous entry in the series known as Persona 3: FES after Lewis came to visit again and showed me the copy of Persona 3 he bought, so you can only imagine my delight when I heard that Persona 4 was being remade for the PS Vita.

At first I was quite disappointed when I heard it was coming to PS Vita as I didn’t have the money at the time to afford one as well as the fact that there weren’t that many interesting titles available on the Vita which I could move onto after completing P4G. Luckily however being born into a family of gamers has its benefits and at Christmas that year my younger brother got a Vita and P4G due to his addiction with the Persona franchise as well (Partly my fault… sorry Ash) meaning that I could finally try this game out, and believe me when I say it was worth the bloody wait.
Persona 4 Golden only improves on what was already essentially perfect about Persona 4, in fact most of the changes are just bonus content due to the fact that a lot of the systems in Persona 4 were already excellent.
The first thing that got my attention was the slight tweak to the Persona fusion system, for those who don’t know fusion is a mechanic within the game that allows for players to choose a minimum of two Personas to combine together to create a new persona which would inherit the moves of the Personas used to create it but in Persona 4 the moves that were inherited were chosen by the game which meant that players would often spend ages trying to get the right moves on the Persona they wanted to create, P4G changed this. Now the player can choose what moves to pass on and even though this was a small change it essentially allows what was once a boring chore to become an exciting experiment.

The second improvement to this game was the character interaction; as for most people (including myself) this was the main draw to the game. The character interaction in Persona 4 involved a mechanic known as “Social Links” which allows the player to form bonds with people, eventually becoming the best of friends and possibly even entering into a romantic relationship with them. This allowed for a massive new layer of detail to the game causing me to spend most my time playing just to complete all the social links for all the characters.
Atlus who develop the Persona franchise improved upon this by firstly adding two new social links within the game in order to flesh that experience out even more, and these weren’t just quick additions that don’t actually affect the story, no these links were fully integrated into the storyline and could affect the kinds of Persona the player could obtain and even affect the games story direction depending on how much time you spent developing them. Previous social links were also improved upon as well by making it so that party member characters would learn new moves for their Personas depending on how developed that character's social link was as well as adding a small extra event once that character's social link was completed which caused that character's Persona to evolve into a third form, allowing for new moves to be learnt and a satisfying end to that character's social link, there is even a brand new epilogue available to be unlocked at the end of the game depending on the path the player takes which gives a sense of closure and feeds player curiosity as to what happens next.

Another feature regarding the social interaction were new events added in throughout the game such as a skiing event with your friends and even a Valentine’s Day event with your love interest allowing for even experienced Persona players like myself who have completed the game multiple times to enjoy playing through the game again and find these new events.
In regards to the new combat tweaks present in Persona 4 Golden they range from small to huge and are incredibly satisfying such as the ability to change a characters clothes while exploring a dungeon which may not seem like much, but it adds a nice visual change to the characters who even comment on their new threads allowing for some really funny moments to shine through. There are also new Personas available within the game which weren’t available in the previous incarnation of the game which allows for a new reason to explore the fusion system to see the new Personas available and use them on your team.
Atlus even went as far as to add new dungeons into the game which fully fit into the story and have their own twists and tricks to offer a new experience to players who have been through the old game multiple times.

In regards to the actual story of the game it remains for the most part unchanged but has new story differences thanks to the new content and revolves around your character that has just moved to the town of Inaba to stay at his uncle's house due to his parents working abroad, but as soon as he arrives strange occurrences begin to happen such as dead bodies appearing in strange locations around town whenever there is a foggy day and a strange TV channel which seems tied to these events somehow. It’s up to the player and their allies who by a chance encounter discover the power of Personas, to find out what’s going on and put an end to it.
At face value the story seems fairly straight forward but as the player moves through the game they will encounter lots of twists and turns as they move closer to the truth and could even fail to succeed if they aren’t attentive enough to the clues you discover. The story itself is a great journey from start to finish and is greatly complemented by the cast of characters who via their dialogue and actions, really give a sense of personality, causing players to become attached to these characters making the game have a real sense of camaraderie as the player pushes forward with his friends against the ensuing fog by fighting through dungeons and solving the mysteries present throughout the game.

In conclusion, Persona 4 Golden is a fantastic game that really explores character development and interaction as well as offering a unique experience quite unlike anything I have ever played through my 19 years of gaming, resulting in a masterpiece which is a must buy for any JRPG fan and a definite purchase for anyone who owns a PS Vita, You won’t be disappointed. Believe It.

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