Persona 4 Golden (PC) Review — Signs of Love
Persona 4 Golden has finally been ransomed from its prison on the Vita and is given new life on PC in what amounts to a fantastic port.
There’s no doubt about it that Persona 4 Golden is one of the most popular JRPGs of the past twenty years. Even after the rousing success that has been Persona 5 and its newly-released Royal iteration, many fans still look back fondly on Persona 4 and praise it for its story, characters, and systems. The only problem, especially as time has gone on, is that the game has long been stranded on the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s handheld platform that never reached the highs of its predecessor, the PSP.
After years of requests from many, though, Persona 4 Golden has now finally been saved from its handheld confines and has been brought over to the PC. The latest edition of Persona 4 Golden doesn’t just finally come to a more accessible platform, but it also easily stands as the best version of the game you can now play. And by proxy, it very likely marks the killing blow to the PS Vita as a whole.
Persona 4 Golden on PC is a very straightforward port, all things considered. No new content has been added to the experience other than an obvious visual touch-up, frame rate improvement, and a few new settings to cycle through. If you’ve played Persona 4 Golden already, then you have a great idea of what to expect here in its newest form.
Speaking of those visual improvements, though, it’s actually surprising in some respects just how great P4G looks on PC. The entire game now runs in high-definition and to be honest, I was wary of this improvement at first. When older titles make a jump to HD, sometimes, and depending on the quality of the port, it just makes it more clear how dated the game really is.
Fortunately, I had absolutely none of these problems with Persona 4 Golden. While you can obviously tell that the game is older, character models are still very well-detailed and hold up to this day. Additionally, all of the locations you come across, whether it be the Dojima residence, the streets of Inaba, or everyone’s favorite department store, Junes, all look wonderful and boast a new level of environmental depth that I never felt in older iterations of Persona 4.
Persona 4 Golden runs buttery smooth on PC when it comes to frame rate, too. Moving through dungeons or engaging in combat looks much cleaner than it ever has before in P4G. Based on what I played, I never came across any instances of the frame rate dropping, either.
Plus, depending on the power of your PC, there are numerous different options that you can cycle through to either improve the frame rate or dial it back. Some of these include the ability to heighten shadow levels or turn them off entirely. Anti-aliasing can also be cycled on or off if you need to as well. This is all nice to have, but considering the game isn’t a beefy one by any means, I imagine most rigs should be able to run it at max settings without any worry.
As for other various settings that are included here in the PC version of Persona 4 Golden, the most notable addition is that of Japanese VO. This is one major request that certain sects of the Persona community have been begging to have for quite some and will certainly be much appreciated. While I mostly played with English VO in my own time with the game (I know, I’m not a true weeb), the Japanese voicework was quite solid when I did toggle it on.
If there is one aspect of this PC version of P4G that just isn’t great, it would be related to the game’s animated cutscenes. While few and far between over the course of the entire experience, these animations look quite pixelated here on PC. This is most likely due to the fact that the original animations were designed with a different aspect ratio in mind, meaning that once they were blown up here to match the size of a PC monitor, they just didn’t make the transition very well. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but you’ll definitely notice that these scenes don’t look sharp at all when they pop up.
It’s also hard not to talk about Persona 4 Golden in a post-Persona 5 world. Broadly, the most recent entry in the series improves on many aspects of P4G, but it became apparent to me when playing this new PC port just how well this game holds up in a general sense. As I previously touched on, the characters and story of Persona 4 Golden remain compelling all of these years later, as does the general structure of the title. Running about Inaba and trying to max out your social links, work a side job, and study for upcoming tests at school remains so much fun and addicting.
That said, there are a few aspects of Persona 4 Golden that are starting to get dated, especially when it comes to the dungeons. Compared to the hand-crafted palaces in Persona 5, the randomly generated dungeons in P4G are much more of a slog to get through. Despite being a game that is bursting with personality and style, dungeons often feel far too flat and bland, as do the amorphous blob-like enemies you’ll come across in the hallways of each location. Still, these sections of the game aren’t ones I would deem outright bad by any means, but they can be more of a grind than I remember.
Persona 4 Golden, by all accounts, is still one of the best JRPGs that you can play right now, which speaks volumes given that the original game is over 10 years old. Whether you’re a longtime fan looking for a reason to return to Inaba or you’re someone who has had an eye on P4G for years but just never had the means to play it, this new PC version of the game is definitely worth snagging. Hopefully, Persona 4 Golden will be the first in a long string of new ports from Atlus, and in time, we can start to see the full series become more accessible on modern platforms.