Persona 4 Golden came to PC last June with some small tweaks, and it presents itself as one of the big bosses in the turn-based RPGs genre of steam. You are a Japanese student (officially named Yu in the anime series) that comes to the small town of Inaba, to the house of your uncle, Ryotaro Dojima, and her daughter, Nanako, in order to study this school year because your parents will be out for the entire year. But even in the small town of Inaba, not everything will be quiet, a series of mysterious murders will happen and you will be involved in their investigation.
During your investigation, your schoolmates will join you as the story progresses. The investigation throws you into the Shadow World, a world located inside the TV (yeah, you’ve read it well), populated by shadows, very related to the cases. Derived from this, a mysterious channel appears on Inaba’s TVs, the Midnight Channel, where you can see future victims…if you can’t avoid it. In order to looks for clues for the murders and to avoid new victims, you will explore this strange world.
Gameplay: Completing the dungeons
The Shadow world is divided on several dungeons, each of one with its respective shadows and bosses. When you walk inside them you will see your enemies before the fights, being able to dodge or attack them. The combat system is turn-based with very interesting additions. You can choose strategies for your teammates behavior or you can use them manually, the party are the protagonist and 3 allies of your choice. Everyone has Personas, powerful summons with different skills. For example, Yosuke, your first ally, will be specialist in the wind element and in the supportive magic. Others companions are focused on physical damage, and even there are hybrids between magical and physical skills. When they level up, you can choose which skills your partners may keep, so it’s up to you how to build them.
Every character has its strengths and weakness, which are relevant to the combat. For example, Yosuke is strong against wind attacks but is weak against electric ones. If you attack the enemy with its weakness you will knock down it temporally and you will get another turn. If you achieve to knock down all the enemies you can activate a powerful All-Out Attack, where your characters attack your enemies in group. Plus, if this attack does not kill the enemies and you bring 2 allies with a strong relationship (related to the story) they will use a team attack, and you will deal more damage. The shadows can knock down your party too if they hit your weakness, but they don’t have this kind of special attacks.
Gameplay: Gathering personas
The main character works a bit differently, he can use more than one Persona, Personas that you get as reward after some combats during shuffle time, choose a tarot card mini-game which will appear after some fights. The cards will give you some rewards, like new Personas or extra experience. Some cards will have negative effects, like receive as reward half money or exp but, in exchange, they will give you more picks, and if you take all, in the next shuffle time you will get some bonus. The protagonist can use the Personas obtained from this mini game, and they can be fused to get stronger personas.
Gameplay: Living like a Japanese student
Asides from the battles part, you will live like a Japanese student. You will go to school every day, except Sundays and holidays, where you will have to answer questions sometimes (even you will do exams, but they are the same questions redacted differently) and you will see some events as story progresses. The in-game time progress as a calendar, after the school you can do a couple of actions (afternoon and evening) before the day ends. You will have limit dates to complete the dungeons for first time (later you can revisit them in any date, there are optional bosses there) and the dungeons visit consumes both actions, so that day you can’t do anything except sleep. During the holidays time you can do the same stuff, except the school part, of course, and some funny story events that take place in determinate dates.
You can do some other actions: using the shopping facilities to buy/sell equipment/items/outfits (this does not consume time), look for quests of the citizens and complete them (this does not consume time either), part-time jobs, study, go fishing, catch bugs or go out with your friends, improving your relationship with them and improving your social links. The main character has some stats to use in his student life, like his charm or his knowledge, stats which you can level up in order to obtain some benefits and some advantages to these social links.
Gameplay: The social links
Every one of your friends will be a social link, based on the tarot cards (Yosuke is the magician for example). You will need to spend time with them in order to rank up your links, which serves to know them better, every one has their own background and story, and unlock more Personas. In the case of your fighting companions, you will unlock new skills and new combat support actions. In the girls case even you can transform your relation into lovers, influencing this in their social links and in different story events.
Graphics, Sound & Others
The graphics are OK, a bit outdated, this is a port from PSVita, with some minor problems (I had not any important issues, but I’ve read that there are people who cannot play this game entirely). The soundtrack is great, every dungeon has its theme, and there are other for the rest of the aspects of the game which contributes positively to the gameplay.
You can choose your difficulty at the start, and change it in-game, I played in normal and it’s an OK difficulty, I died a few times, but it is not frustrating. There are several endings and if you go for the True Ending you will spend 100 h on this game, even more if you grind a lot. It has achievements and cards, and it’s completely in English.
OVERALL: 10. Persona 4 Golden is a great turn-based RPG where you have a lot of things to do. In this game you will mix the life of a Japanese student, where you go to school and where you interact with your companions, with the investigation of some strange murders that occurs in the town of Inaba. The combat system is classic, a turn-based system with some nice additions, derived of the relationship with your partners. If you want a turn-based RPG with tons of extra content to do, this is your game. It took me 100 h to finish it, but I would play it again.