Persona is a franchise that defies definition. Part turn based role playing game, part social simulator, and part Tamagotchi – it’s hooks and fundamentals set it far apart from its peers. Something so offbeat and original it was destined to become something special. Spawning multiple sequels- over the course of 3 decades–one game stands out as a personal favorite: Persona 4. Directed by Katsura Hoshino, the game has won multiple awards and is popular to inspire an anime adaptation, and two spin-off games.
Originally released on the PS2 in 2008, Person 4 was always locked behind a wall of accessibility. A PS2 title that launched AFTER the PS3 came to life; the title found itself in limited run productions. The story doesn’t end there though – Atlus took another bet when the series found itself a new life in the highly underrated PlayStation VITA in 2012. Alas, that platform itself faded into obscurity leaving fans with very few options left, until now. In one of the most surprising announcements in recent years, Atlus revealed and released Persona 4 Golden for Steam on the very same day.
The game follows a high school student, who at the start of the game, moved from the city to a rural town named Inaba for a year. As you start to settle into your life there, the game has you spend your time in the game by going to school, making a few friends, maybe getting a girlfriend along the way with the Social Link Mechanic, or boosting up your stats with several activities that you can do every (in-game) day.
Oh, all this while trying to solve murder mysteries with your your friends, while battling monsters deep in a person’s psyche that you get into by diving into dungeons in an alternate dimension. Battles are done in a turn based manner, and you and your party members can turn the tide by equipping Personas that you can create or summon outside of the dungeons. Buffs and Debuffs play such an important part in battles that the game can become a challenge in normal difficulty even to experienced JRPG players.
Graphics wise, the game isn’t so much of a looker considering it’s a port of a PS2 game that released on a handheld console. While the textures for much of the game has been remastered, the 3D models are the same as before. However, the aesthetic and music makes up for it. Shoji Meguro hits it out of the park once again with the jazzy music that holds up even after all these years, and the groovy UI compliments everything and accentuates the stylishness even more.
Atlus has also chosen to remaster the UI and illustrations, although only to a 1080p level rather than 4K. Unfortunately, there’s also some apparent pixelation with the animated cutscenes in the game, especially in dark areas. The game also gives you the option to choose between the Japanese or English voiceovers, something that was missing in the original.
Performance wise the port is pretty solid. It’s playable with the keyboard and mouse, although a controller is recommended. The game ran very well even when I tested it on my old rig equipped with a i7-2600 and a GTX1060 card. Graphics settings for the game are pretty sparse though, where you are given only 5 options, to push the rendering scale, shadow quality, turning the shadows on/off, the quality of the anisotropic filter and contrast. Regardless, it is understandable considering the game isn’t really pushing anything close to what modern games are these days.
I had a lovely time replaying the game and while some parts of it has shown its age, most of it feels timeless. The game is a must play for any JRPG fans who might have missed it when it was released back in the day, even more considering it is at the low price of just 20 dollars. Atlus got everything right for the release of one of the best games of all time, and let us hope this is just the start of things to come from the developer for PC gamers.
A Review code was provided by SEGA Europe
Developer: Atlus / Publisher: SEGA | Atlus
Release date: 13/06/2020
Platforms: PC, PS Vita
Version Reviewed: PC