For all of us RPG enthusiasts, a beloved masterpiece returns this month – Persona 4 Golden for the PlayStation Vita, due on shelves from 22nd February.
This is quite possibly one of the best RPGs ever released. The game tells its intriguing story with flow and grace, refusing to overwhelm the player with gratuitous cut scenes. The battle system is intuitive, with simple mechanics that won’t leave you wondering where your manual is while the enemy is torching your characters. And finally, this game is packed with new additional content never before seen in the original Persona 4.
So what is Persona? Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is Metacritic’s PlayStation 2 Game of the Year for 2008. Persona 4 places you in the shoes of a high school student who needs to strike a balance between school, a social life, learning more about his family, and, as it happens, investigating a series of gruesome murders that may or may not involve a psychedelic world that lies behind the screen of every television in town.
Whether beating up Shadows or tackling schoolwork, the choices you make will come to affect how others see you, and how you see yourself.
In both Persona 4 and Persona 4 Golden, you play as a transfer student who moves to the sleepy country burg of Inaba. When you arrive, things quickly take a turn for the weird when you learn of a series of murders taking place in the town. You decide to do some investigating on your own, journeying into a mysterious world that you never knew existed, facing off against creatures from the very depths of humanity’s collective psyche.
Luckily, you’re not completely powerless. Each and every one of your party eventually gets access to a Persona – the inner self – and it is through these forces that you’ll learn to cast devastating spells and powerful physical attacks.
The main character also has a special ability: the ability to change Personas among dozens of different spirits, with corresponding skills, strengths, and weaknesses. It is this ability to change Personas – improving and discovering new ones – that will make up the bulk of your efforts.
That’s not to say that the game finely cleaves the “RPG” part from the “social sim” part, oh, no. The bonds that form between you and other characters are known as Social Links, and each one takes on one of the Arcana that your Personas fall under. Basically, the better a friend you are to a person, the easier it will be to make and use the Personas that he or she represents within your mind.
These conversations aren’t just a chore to help you build better monsters – they’re full-on side stories. I’ve seen battle-hardened warriors cry manfully into their plaited beards when playing some of these scenes. What hope do you have? None, probably, but that’s okay. When you relate your tear-soaked tales to other Persona 4 veterans, we’ll all know what you’re talking about.
If you’ve played Persona 4, you might have noticed that there were a few points in the year where time skipped ahead, meaning you didn’t get to play out those days. This time, the story’s been reconfigured to give you back all that lost time, as well as giving you new fun things to do during these periods.
Will you and Yosuke ever get your scooter licenses? What will happen in the main character’s love life now that Valentine’s Day is a playable event? Will Teddie learn the true meaning of Christmas? If you’ve never played Persona 4, then all this new stuff will be gravy on the mashed potatoes of fantasticness we’re already giving you.
There’s also an entirely new dungeon and a brand new Social Link for you to connect with. This character is seamlessly integrated into the narrative to provide context to the entire story. Additional details include all-new animated sequences for several major events and holidays, new costumes and weapons, and a metric ton of new voiced dialogue covering almost every event sequence. What more could you ask for?