Our Verdict

A bare-bones refit, but this remains a captivating JRPG, marrying slice-of-life drama with stylish detháng battling.

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What is it? A port of the enhanced PS Vita version of one of the best PS2-era JRPGsExpect khổng lồ pay: $19.99/£19.99Developer: AtlusPublisher: AtlusReviewed on: Hãng Intel Vi xử lý Core i3-8350K CPU, 12GB RAM, GeForce GTX 1060Multiplayer? NoLink: Official site

Starting out at a new school is a difficult time for anyone. But the teenaged protagonist of Atlus’s sprawling JRPG has it particularly tough. Having moved from the bustle và bright lights of Tokyo lớn the supposed rural calm of Inacha, he’s barely unpacked his bags before a series of gruesome murders shocks the sleepy town. With his detective uncle rarely home khổng lồ help him settle in, he uses his spare time to lớn band together with a group of classmates, each holding latent supernatural powers, lớn investigate this disturbing phenomenon. Negotiating the pitfalls of adolescent school life while navigating fantastical dungeons filled with bizarre monsters sounds lượt thích a weird combination; the genius of Persomãng cầu 4 Golden is how brilliantly it intertwines these two seemingly disparate ideas.

Even so, first impressions aren’t especially promising. This is, after all, a port of a port: it’s based on the eight-year-old PS Vita version, which was itself a refined edition of the 2008 PS2 original. As such, it’s showing its age visually, even if its stylish & evocative sầu art thiết kế mostly compensates for its technical shortcomings. And it remains a slow starter: Golden streamlines the original’s infamously languid introduction, but it’s still a good couple of hours before the training wheels come off & you’re given full control over your schedule. You’ll need a bit of patience before you get lớn see what makes the game so special.

Eventually, you’ll be able lớn decide exactly what you vì chưng outside school hours, và it’s not long before you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice. Ah, the dilemmas that come with being the popular kid: bởi you stop by the music room for band practice, or head khổng lồ the field for soccer training? To meet up with the boorish but well-intentioned Yosuke, or lớn hang out with the gregarious, steak-loving Chie?

(Image credit: Atlus)

The game sometimes follows you into lessons, where you’ll be invited khổng lồ answer a multiple-choice question (occasionally to help your friends who either don’t know or haven’t been paying attention) for small boosts lớn your character’s social qualities. These in turn open up additional extra-curricular activities: with a high Knowledge stat, you’ll sail through exams, and have sầu the option of taking on a part-time job as a translator khổng lồ earn extra cash. Boost your Courage by finishing off a spicy dish at a Chinese diner, meanwhile, và eventually you’ll be brave sầu enough lớn pay a late-night visit khổng lồ the local shrine that’s rumoured lớn be haunted.

They’ll also boost your social link, which are your way of deepening your bonds with your schoolfriends. This unlocks extra dialogue options, but more importantly, feeds into the other half of the game. Each time one of your peers disappears, you have several days to prepare lớn save sầu them before they’re gone forever. For each rescue attempt, you’ll venture inside a shadow world which is accessed through a television set—lượt thích Rigàn in reverse. Here, you’ll explore the rooms & corridors of a series of multi-floor mansions, attacking patrolling shadows that transsize into lớn a range of outlandish creatures khổng lồ be fought in turn-based combat.

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You can attaông chồng with weapons made by the local blacksmith, but you’ll vày more damage by summoning Personas: supernatural projections empowered by the social links you’ve made. Over time, you’ll amass dozens of these, gaining the ability to lớn fuse two or more together to make stronger & more versatile Personas. You can transfer existing abilities lớn these directly, while skill cards can also be found lớn further diversify their move sets.

(Image credit: Atlus)

The turn-based combat is brisk và engaging without being especially innovative sầu. You control protagonist Yu directly; other tiệc ngọt members act independently, but can be guided by giving them preset tactics. Targeting an opponent’s elemental weakness lets you take another shot, while you can encourage your tiệc nhỏ lớn pile onkhổng lồ downed enemies (amusingly prompting them khổng lồ rush in và disappear inside a traditional cartoon fight cloud). It’s straightforward stuff, và yet even incidental actions are imbued with greater meaning: when a friover extends a hand to lớn piông xã you up off the floor, you think lớn the time you spent talking nonsense on the roof after school or over a beef bowl in the evening.

Their Personas, too, are a reminder of the struggle they’ve sầu overcome; each victim’s dungeon represents an internal prison of their own making, where their darkest or most secret thoughts & impulses manifest as dangerous shadow entities. By rescuing each victim, you empower them not only khổng lồ accept their flaws, but to lớn welcome them into lớn their hearts. Thus their individual Personas are born, giving them a facade to overcome their individual hardships.

All of this gives greater depth & nuance lớn the characterisation, which avoids the standard heroic archetypes of many a JRPG. While the game giao dịch with dark subject matter, it’s not without moments of humour, và just as it appears lớn be settling inlớn a familiar rhythm, you’ll find a break from routine to shake things up. It’s a game full of telling little details: when your young cousin Nanako parrots the advertising jingle from local department store Junes, it can seem irritating at first. But as you see her sitting in front of the TV alone night after night, sighing as she relays the news that her father is going to lớn be late home page from work yet again, this cheerful refrain is tinged with sadness.

(Image credit: Atlus)

At 60 hours or so, it’ll take you a while before you get to lớn the bottom of what’s going on, but the school-term structure stops Persona 4 Golden from dragging. You’ll quickly settle inkhổng lồ its moreish loop, enjoying your time in Inacha more và more as this small town and its inhabitants open up to lớn you. Despite its fantastical elements, Persomãng cầu 4: The Golden captures the challenges, heartaches & embarrassments of adolescence in a way that feels piercingly true, while giving you an absorbing mystery to solve sầu as a bonus. It may be getting on a bit, but the belated arrival on PC of one of the finest contemporary JRPGs is extremely welcome.