With the undeniable success of the metaphysical, felony dodging Persona 5, the once niche franchise has reached a whole new level of visibility within mainstream gaming. But what helped it get there? The title prior, Persona 4, was a much loved PS2 title that thrust the series to new heights when a gleaming remaster descended upon the PS Vita, P4 Golden. Spring boarding the series from mere Shin Megami Tensei spinoff to its own rightful franchise, Persona has since spawned rhythm-action games, a fighting spin-off alongside an anime series and film. The Persona series has a long legacy of revamping and rereleasing its titles, so to see Persona 4 Golden graphically upscaled by the same engine as Persona 5 would mean new fans could discover the title that paved the way for Joker’s commercial success, from frantic city life to the peaceful, verdant countryside…fraught with mysterious murders. Whilst Persona 4 Golden is already a remaster of the original PS2 release, a modern edition of the title on a far more powerful home console would be a timely return for a series that has recently discovered enormous popularity.
- A Graphical Overhaul
Persona 5 is stunning. It’s crisp, bright, gloomy, impossible locations and characters are abuzz with life and energy, from the believably real day to day colours of bill boards, posters and shopping centres to the slick, acidic, overtly ornate Palaces the Phantom Thieves traipse through, every inch of the game is visually arresting for one reason or another. Augmented by a UI system that has no reason to be as beautiful and alive as it is, Persona 5 has set the bar to Babel-like heights. Persona 4 had a very different aesthetic, a bright and cheery contrast to its dour, death obsessed ancestor Persona 3. Light and breezy, everything awash with yellow, it would be incredible to see not only the Investigation Team perfectly sculpted in polygon, but the game’s UI flavour of analogue TVs and LCD screens woven into the fabric of battle.
- A Living Inaba
By nature the sleepy town of Inaba will never be as packed as the Tokyo districts of P5, but to see its highstreets and fields in a less linear form, more than just a place between point A and B, would bring the same sense of virtual tourism that P5 had. A game world that felt real, with literal faceless NPCs living their lives regardless of your actions, seeing Inaba’s quaint little town between shadow killing and culprit hunting would make the experience that much more real and exciting. Persona is a game of gothic Pokemon dispersed between moments of life sim, it would be amazing to see Yasogami High breath the same way as Shujin Academy, to feel far more life in the non-turn-based sections.
- The Gang’s All Here
Something that P4 has over P5 is its characters. Whilst the Thieves were a lovable lot, they simply didn’t have the chemistry that the teens of P4 have, the kind of bonds that only develop from living in a secluded town where everyone knows everyone. Watching any skit, any moment, any holiday, celebration or cutscene was an absolute joy in P4 as we had plucky and obnoxious best friend Yosuke bounce off ravenous tomboy Chie, soothed by usually refined and demure Yukiko. Then we have aggressive punk-with-a-penchant for cute Kanji struggling with his sexuality, a goading, bear pun spewing creature known simply as Teddie alongside a steely ace detective Naoto, having an identity crisis mirroring our retired idol Rise, exhausted by fame, the sullen Marie is then added to the mix in P4 Golden. They’re an odd lot that somehow wind up together, but their personalities gel so well that any new content between them is akin to gold dust, just to play P4 with the models of Persona 4: Dancing All Night and relive these skits is enough to warrant a remake.
- Social Link Go!
The synergy of P5’s Confidants to gameplay was the best the series had seen to date. The idea of these is that certain characters represent specific tarot cards and need to be interacted with to boost personas governed by the same card, making more powerful critters to aid you in battle based on how diligent you are in after school Drama Class. What P5 did was alongside these needed boosts, reward players with additional skills that spanned from extra EXP to members not in the party, to gun skills and even unlocking additional time to do more in a day. This made them feel so much more worthwhile, offering incentive beyond summoning a new thane of Hell in battle. Parts of this were added in P4 Golden, little sis Nanako offering SP restorative vegetables and the shrine guardian fox offering SP recovery for a fee based on rank. But to see more of this, especially the EXP bonuses so the game can be less of a hardcore grind fest, to see a return of P3’s Fusion Spells, there’s room to add what P5 did well to a modern P4.
- A Female Route
In the third rerelease of P3, Persona 3 Portable, the game was heavily streamlined to run on the PSP, but offered players the chance to play as a female protagonist, offering a slightly different initial persona, unique romance routes and dialogue options as well as a new Velvet Room assistant (and secret boss). Whilst completely non-canon, fans adored this option, able to date characters they wished to, playing the title in a more bespoke way for the player. A female counterpart to initial persona Izanagi can only be imagined, but there are many fans out there that’d enjoy a virtual romance with the other half of the P4 cast.
It’s great to see a once niche game series with a loyal following grow into a large community of fans of a now fully fledged franchise. Inaba was a very different place, the fog-filled world inside the TV is a very different realm to mementos, one that fans old and new simply need to experience in HD.