It’s typically laborious to suggest older video games nowadays. There’s normally a sequel, re-imagining, or non secular successor that has finessed the controls, up to date the fashion, or overhauled the entire bundle for contemporary quality-of-life requirements. In the Persona franchise pantheon, Persona 5 and Persona 5 Royal turned the measure of progress within the Persona pantheon. The flashy JRPGs ooze pizzazz, from their wildly dressed heroes, to slick menus and reimagined takes on the previous video games’ repetitive dungeons.
And Persona 5 was the primary entry into Persona’s deep world for many individuals. It actually was mine, however after writing a glowing essay for Polygon’s 2017 Game of the Year record, I used to be advised by Persona followers I knew (and within the our feedback) that in actual fact Persona 4 Golden — the definitive model of Persona 4 launched in 2012 — was nonetheless superior in some ways.
The drawback was that Persona 4 Golden was additionally locked away on the PlayStation Vita, a conveyable that, at greatest, has turn out to be a enjoyable strategy to play indie video games, however by no means managed to rival any handheld system produced by Nintendo, and isn’t precisely straightforward to trace down now until you need to go to the secondary market. Not many followers had been going to purchase a defunct handheld to play a single recreation.
But Persona 4 Golden on Steam captures all that magic for me. It’s a direct port of the unique recreation; there’s no new story, dungeons or characters. And but, that’s precisely what I need. The personalities of this recreation are bigger than life, and should replenish an even bigger display than a Vita handheld. Finally, everybody who desires to take action can strive among the finest Persona video games.
I ought to know, the Vita is how I first skilled this recreation. After I had diligently performed all the pieces I might to assist choose Game of the Year in 2017, an upcoming vacation journey to my boyfriend’s household’s dwelling appeared like the right second to dive into Persona 4 Golden. I began feeling actually sick the morning of our flight there, and ended up spending portion of the journey holed up in a separate visitor bed room to keep away from infecting everybody else over Christmas. By the time we’d returned dwelling every week later, I’d virtually inhaled greater than 40 hours of Golden, the nasty chilly giving me the right alternative to savor its lengthy thriller.
And Golden lived as much as the hype, even with the flashier sequel nonetheless recent in my thoughts. The story of the protagonist’s journey to sleepy, rural Inaba is instantly shrouded in thriller, after a physique is found hanging from a TV antennas. One homicide turns into two, and your character and his new associates quickly uncover an odd world contained in the city’s tv units.
Inaba’s characters are endearing, and Golden’s pacing gave all of them time to win my coronary heart. The procedural dungeons weren’t all the time compelling, however the fight clicked for me after Persona 5. I most well-liked with the ability to seize a persona throughout Shuffle Time over having to barter ambiguous dialog prompts with a knocked down Shadow, a characteristic even the improved Persona 5 Royal nonetheless wasn’t capable of right. For each high quality of life level I might award to Persona 5, Golden gained me over with a stranger story that felt prefer it had a lot greater stakes. Life in small-town Inaba is probably not like bustling Tokyo, the place 5 is about, however I believe this helped bolster the narrative and hold an admittedly surreal story safely on the rails.
The story’s power comes from unraveling its central thriller. Golden has stakes. You do should suss the killer out by yourself, and you will get it unsuitable. There’s additionally a heart-rending second when these stakes turn out to be very actual. Persona 5 has a key betrayal too, however there’s by no means an opportunity to flub your investigation, or aspect with the traitor, each choices that make Persona 4 extra attention-grabbing.
This is a theme that continued all through my time with the sport. Golden could also be a little bit kludgy within the particulars across the recreation in comparison with later releases, however the story and play themselves accomplish that many issues proper that it’s laborious to care.
Those particulars come by means of a lot better on this stunning new launch, as properly. All of the artwork — nonetheless pictures of the characters throughout dialog, background textures, and character mannequin textures — has been polished. Golden is weirdly beautiful working at 2560×1440, particularly because the character fashions themselves can solely be improved a lot from the unique recreation’s PlayStation 2 framework. I discovered myself spending numerous time absorbing the background particulars that had been as soon as muddied on a tiny display: the furnishings within the Dojima residence and the meals on their dinner desk, the indicators throughout Inaba’s quaint procuring district, the ominous rooms discovered within the alternate Midnight Channel dimension. Hell, even the ever-present fog appears higher.
The PC port doesn’t provide too many different extra bells and whistles, however keyboard and mouse assist is good once I need to lean again and spacebar myself by means of lengthy stretches of story.
This adherence to the unique recreation has its ups and downs, although. Since there are not any story modifications, there aren’t any enhancements to the clumsy dealing with of Kanji and Naoto’s story beats. Atlus’ status for mishandling something LGBTQ-related has been firmly cemented at this level, however this was positively the sport the place it first felt like a serious difficulty. That’s regrettable, as a result of it’s nonetheless an enormous caveat marring what’s total an unimaginable recreation, and the corporate has at the least tried to do higher with different latest releases.
For the numerous followers taken with lastly diving into the 100-plus hours of Persona 4 Golden, this Steam port provides the perfect resolution — although I do know many will nonetheless be hoping for a port for Nintendo Switch. (Atlus has not but made any point out of a Switch port.)
If you’re excited to play Persona 4 Golden once more, or curious to dive for the primary time, the sport remains to be as wonderful because it was when it was first launched eight years in the past, simply lastly extra handy.
Persona 4 Golden shall be launched June 13 on Steam. The recreation was reviewed utilizing a obtain code offered by Sega. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media could earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of affiliate hyperlinks. You can discover extra details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.