An amazing story of growing up wrapped in a dark murder mystery, Persona 4 Golden is a beast of two natures. The Japanese role-playing game (RPG) Persona 4 follows a high school student who moved to the small Japanese town of Inaba for a year. Before he has time to unpack, a series of horrific murders occur, the victims of which are found on TV antennas and telephone lines throughout the city. Meanwhile, an urban legend called The Midnight Channel is touring his new school, promising viewers a chance to see their soulmate on TV if they stare at a blank screen on a rainy night.
There is some truth in this rumor — although it is not kindred spirits that appear on the Midnight Channel, but flickering images of the killer’s next victim, writhing in pain and shrouded in fog. When the main characters discover that they have the ability to enter the World of Shadows, a distorted realm where murders take place, they gain powerful abilities called Characters and begin to wade through randomly generated dungeons and turn-based battles in the hope of putting an end to the murders.
Not everything is so gloomy. The visuals of Persona 4 are garishly colorful right from the thrilling opening movie, and when you don’t enter the shadow world to fight monsters and rescue the victims of serial killer Inaba, you’ll do everything an ordinary student does. You can spend your free time at your discretion — whether it’s part—time work for money, hanging out with friends or studying at school – provided that you meet the deadlines of the game, which requires keeping the Reluctant stars of the midnight channel on certain dates. It won’t work, and the game is over.
Again, it’s not just about the murder! By the time you type the credits in person 4 (expect it to take 65-75 hours), the image of the body hanging from the antenna will not linger in your mind. It will be an inexorably memorable original soundtrack of Persona 4, filled with pop music of the 2000s, or conversations with characters that you will see as your cherished friends during your stay in Inaba. Maybe it will be a little killing as a treat — the plot should be exciting until the pace starts to fluctuate towards the end of the bonus content golden — but thematically it’s wonderful how many plates person 4 manages to rotate at the same time.
Although 15 years have passed since the first launch of Persona 4, it will be difficult for you to guess her age. The delightful cast and intense plot of the game match Persona 5 2016 without missing a second, and much-needed additions such as the quick save feature make this version of Golden the best way to play it. However, crawling through the dungeons in Person 4 — although improved compared to Person 3 — still lags behind polishing 5, and it can become tedious to comb through numerous floors in search of a randomly generated path of progress. When you eventually crawl to the end of Persona 4, the dungeons may start to seem like a chore that you need to go through for the sake of developing the story.
However, it remains an annoying little thing in the face of Persona 4’s strengths. A decade and a half later, Persona 4 remains a legitimately important level — and now the Atlus developer has ported it damn everywhere, and there’s no excuse to skip it.
Persona 4 Gold is released on January 19 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. We played it on the Xbox Series S.