Twelve Days #8: Persona 4 Golden

Today I thought I’d venture into the more grey area of a game that has an anime but an anime I haven’t seen. I have however played the game. I think this is gonna end up being a half assed review of my thoughts on the game, since it’s pretty much the only JRPG I played this year and the newest one I’ve played in a while. I present an image of one of the characters in the hopes that it will not start a P4G best girl war.

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Hmmm… so I guess I’ll just go over what I liked and disliked about it? I’ve done that before, though not in the detail I think I’m going to go over it here. So first off I think I’ll take a look at what I didn’t like about the game, and perhaps don’t like about JRPGs in general.

The first would definitely have to be the dialogue. This game almost felt like a visual novel at times given the sheer amount of dialogue, although that itself might be forgiven what with the idea of social links playing such a huge role in determining your powers. But beyond that, some of the dialogue is just… atrocious.

It falls victim to a lot of the same problems that VNs have as well. Much of the dialogue falls into the “totally useless” category, going barely any further than TRYING to define the characters a bit more. I found myself skipping over a good chunk of it on my first playthrough because I couldn’t stand to listen to Yosuke making another joke and everyone saying something in response.

In addition to this, I didn’t like how locked in place the dialogue was. In the game, you get social links. With the main female cast anyway, it can advance your relationship to the point in which you become one of the girls’ significant others. That’s all well and good. But that itself has absolutely no bearing on the majority of the game’s dialogue, and I find that extremely irritating.

Why? Because there are events in which Rise is flirting heavily with the Yu and say if your girlfriend is Chie, she just stands there and watches and Rise flirts with you regardless. Conversely, Rise also still flirts with you in ways that might indicate that you’re not a couple, even when you’ve already agreed to go out with her. It almost completely breaks any immersion I have in the game when the dialogue is so… scripted.

To its credit though it does give you the option to be unfaithful and cheat on your girlfriend which obviously has disastrous consequences, but I feel like that’s better to give the players that option as opposed to locking them into a moral decision.

What else… the extra boss in Margaret would be a big thing. It’s really interesting to get to her, in that you have to beat the game twice and do a certain series of events, but the boss fight itself is one of the biggest gripes I have with JRPGs. And that is one hit KO moves that completely negate your progress in the battle. That is NOT good game design. It is NOT challenging. It is a middle finger to the players and completely fake difficulty.

Lastly, I don’t really like how Yosuke treated Kanji’s struggles with his sexuality as a joke and wasn’t ever called out about it by the other characters. I thought it was going to be a fairly progressive stance for Japan but no, they kind of subterfuged it with Yosuke mocking him and Naoto “looking like a guy but not actually being a guy”. I usually don’t take issue with these kinds of issues but damn they laid it on thick sometimes.

Anyway. Enough anger. Time for what I liked about it. I REALLY do think this game (Golden especially) deserves best JRPG on the Vita, if not one of the best in recent memory.

I actually really enjoyed the social links. They gave you benefits on the gameplay side as well as the story side, which I kind of felt was really impressive. You needed a few of them as well to get to extra content, but at the same time they were mostly optional and it was never forced on players (except in the case of Teddie and the group as a whole, which I can easily forgive).

To get back to one thing that threw me for a loop, some of the romance even with the social links felt like it was just kind of out of nowhere. Naoto’s felt especially odd, with her suddenly saying she was into Yu with almost no indication of it previously. But that’s not a big issue I really had.

As far as the combat and grinding went, I really enjoyed it for the most part, feeling like it was easy enough to grind on the golden hands once you got to a certain level. Some battles felt long but I was only playing on normal so nothing was schedule breaking. Actually crafting the personas was an interesting experience as well and I like how they were registered and handled.

I can’t speak much on the extra content as I don’t have vanilla Persona 4 to compare it to but I was always okay with more content to play. And this game really REALLY sucked my attention away from mostly everything else. I found myself wanting to go on and on and on and did about 60 hours in two weeks.

So yeah. I’m not going to give a score to it since I don’t really consider this a review but I’ve already played through the game twice and wouldn’t count out a third playthrough. I got a PS TV originally for Project Diva and picked this up based on a whim but I don’t regret it in the slightest. Fun gameplay and a fun re-introduction to JRPGs which I haven’t played in a while (I’ll be playing through Final Fantasy X soon and completing FFX-2 for the first time).

Hope you enjoyed my thoughts, this one turned out a lot longer than I imagined it would. Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow! 😀

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