RPG Review: Persona 4 Golden

So I finally decided to play my first Persona game and since it was basically $15 on sale on STEAM I figured why not? Minor spoilers ahead and as usual my husband’s commentary is in blue.

The story takes place in the inaka town of Inaba where our protagonist (who I named Narukami Yuu after the anime) comes to live with his uncle and cousin for a year while his parents are overseas. He attends the local school where he makes friends with his classmates Chie and Yosuke. Chie tells him about a rumor going around about the Midnight Television that shows some interesting things whenever there’s fog outside at night. Yuu decides to watch the マヨナカテレビ and realizes his hand can slip inside the TV like into another dimension. After telling his friends they try to jump into the large screen TV at the local department store Junes and end up falling into what looks like a foggy tv studio. When inside they meet up with a kigurumi bear named Kuma (Teddie in English). And from then on they get entwined in a series of murders and try to figure out whodunnit while at the same time trying to solve the mystery fog that keeps coming to Inaba every month.

(CW: OLD FOGEY RANTING ABOUT BACK IN THE DAY) One thing that’s funny to me playing this game now in 2021 rather than in 2008 when it came out is the entire aspect about how in order to entire the shadow realm they need to go to the electronics section of Junes. The reasoning, of course for all you whippersnappers out there, is that there used to be a time when people only had like 20 inch tube TVs at home, and meanwhile a big screen flat plasma TV (remember plasma TVs????????????? Of course you don’t you snot-nosed twerps!!!!!!!!!) was an unimaginable luxury, so obviously this was the only way that the characters could get access to a TV large enough to climb into.

So while all of this is going on, you the protagonist have to go on a Tokimeki Memorial style stat raiser where you study and hang out with people to raise your relationship levels with them and raise your stats to be able to do things like be #1 in the exam rankings and get the ladies to like you.

There is soooooooooooo much you can do on a given day. Most of the days are school days (naturally), meaning that there’s always some combination of dungeon crawling, school clubs, hanging out with friends, part-time jobs, minigames, or solo activities that you can do. It took us until probably halfway through the game until we started to get the hang of the typical daily/weekly schedule for all the different characters and activities. But it’s also forgiving enough that you can kind of roleplay a specific version of Protagonist-kun too if you want.

So I was surprised and I did hear this game has a dating sim element, but it DOES give you the option to pick a girl (or have a 修羅場 if you pick all of them) and have a bunch of cute scenarios with her. I ended up settling down on Chie because she was the first girl who called out to Yuu when he transferred into the class and honestly I just liked her down to earth friendly personality and the desire to want to protect all those close to her. I know she’s not a popular pairing within  the fandom (at least from what I read) but hey the game gives me the option and I took it. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)✨ The above video I clipped Chie x Yu moments from my stream because I got her to max level really fast by June and had a lot of opportunities for scenes with her.

I’m sure the other mainline waifus were probably fine (but not Naoto, don’t NTR your bro by claiming her), but honestly lol at the inclusion of the random clubmates that you can romance. In the one corner, you have your ride or die ladybros, who not only have been with you through thick and thin, but also whose most intimate secrets, nagging insecurities, darkest fears, and uncomfortable truths of their psyches manifested themselves in physical form and were laid bare to you (and that both of you confronted and defeated so that they could grow as a person)…or there’s like, that girl who plays trombone in the orchestra that you talked to one time while you were both setting up the chairs for that day’s rehearsal.

So basically this stat raising thing goes on for a year and every month you have to rescue a friend or catch a criminal. By the end of the game you have 8 people you can have in your party but because you have to grind their levels or they fall behind, I only ended up using Yosuke, Chie and Teddie. Yu also has access to an entire pokemon compendium for his personas and I threw most of mine into the blender until something somewhat decent came out. Most of the promotion art of this game always features Izanagi but hilariously he was one of the first ones I threw into the blender and never saw again. 😂😂

I won’t go into the spoiler territory but eventually you do defeat the final boss, including the final boss that was added specifically for Personal 4 Golden since apparently that was not in the original P4. Golden basically adds 2 extra dungeons and bosses to defeat  and when I look at it now it seems so odd that the original P4 didn’t have them because it leaves a lot of open ends of why some things happened the way they did (like why Yu got his TV surfing powers in the first place.)

There’s probably guides out there how to play in the most optimal way but at first coming into the game it was so overwhelming that I decided to just yolo it. Thanks to Extra Easy mode, the battles were mostly a joke and I got so much money from some of the dungeon enemies that I think I was at 2 million yen by the end of the game and bought almost every costume the shop had offered me. (The costumes sadly were only for during dungeon battles and not anything outside those or cut scenes.) Because of this I was only able to max out about 10 characters friendship meters and the rest I got to maybe level 5 before the game ended. I had maxed out my stats though but if I was trying to be super efficient I might have followed a guide. That said, I think trying to be super efficient would end up being stressful because you’d have to follow the guide exactly – the kind of thing I’d rip my hair out over when playing games like Wand of Fortune. Fortunately unlike my shitty stat raising otome games, this wasn’t super strict and you could trigger a lot of events at pretty much anytime save for a few story specific events where you had a time limit to complete it (and it usually involved a dungeon.)

We initially got completely overwhelmed by all the systems and complexity in the game and got really anxious that we were doing something wrong. We decided to just wing it and hope for the best. Technically, our assumption ended up being correct because we were doing everything completely inefficiently, but fortunately it all worked out fine in the end because the game both gives you a ton of time to do stuff, along with there being almost no important missable events or endings. The only reason we even got one of the bad endings was because we misinterpreted the tone of one of the choices and ended up doing something different from what we were trying to make them do. It was also really good that you can just wing it because any attempt to follow a guide would probably spoil TONS of stuff and make the mystery and all the twists and turns a lot less fun.

The game does signpost some stuff occasionally which does help with remembering what you can do on a given day, but the execution can be hit or miss. For example, there’s frequently times when you’re trying to investigate the leads on the case and you need to question people around town. Someone might say something like “oh yeah my friend saw the suspect near the liquor store”, which was a clear enough signal to try to look for said friend. But then the trick part was figuring out to get that trigger to occur. Maybe you needed to go to a different part of town first and come back, maybe you needed to wait a whole complete day, or maybe you needed to talk to some more people in order to get her to show up. I often looked for guide solutions for these when we’d get into those situations where we know what we want to do, but how not to do it (see also our first bad end.)

The game also had a ton of anime cut scenes just like in Tales of Arise that I played before this which was really nice to see. I ended up picking up the P4 anime I dropped years ago because now that I’ve played the game it would actually make sense to me. The animation in the game though is of much higher quality than the anime lol.

Two other great things I want to mention were the comedy and the music. The music was really catchy, even just music of “you’re going to school” was catchy lol. The first 3 dungeons had really catchy music that went well with the dungeon theme. And the 2nd thing that was great was all the comedy in the game. I made a video above from my streams where I was laughing so hard my sides hurt and tears were rolling down my face. 🤣🤣🤣 So even though the dungeons were tedious and I didn’t really care about the idea persona stats or the battle system, all the different scenarios and the romance portion really made the game for me. There’s a new game plus option for those who care about getting max with all the side characters but I had my fill with the main cast so I’ll be moving on to other games. The game is pretty cheap on steam so definitely give it a chance if you never played before, and if you had quit because the system was tedious definitely play the Steam version for the EZ mode.

In conclusion, if this game came out when you were 13, it would BLOW YOUR MIND. We joke sometimes about how “the game that you played every day after school when you were 10 is the best game ever”, but that’s more a joke about endless grindfests (…or games that aren’t REALLY endless grindfests, except that you were a small child and were bad at video games and also just liked seeing numbers go up.) But in this case, it’s like “oh man I dreamed that anime and friends and Slenderman and superpowers and talking to girls and Pokemon and Japan were real, and then my dream came true!!!!!!!!!!!” All in all, tons of fun but I reallllllly wish that they trimmed off a lot of the fat so that the game would be nonstop  fun times and exciting adventures with your pals and a lot less of filling out worksheets in Excel to figure out when you can finally go to basketball practice.

Oh yea by the way the side quests sucked to the level of almost as bad as Scarlet Nexus and the only thing I remember is giving fish to a baby nuko.😹

As usual you can check out my Twitch highlights collection for this game!


11 thoughts on “RPG Review: Persona 4 Golden”

  1. That really sucks. 😦 I joined the subreddit two-ish months ago and from my impression the community was rather open and welcoming. I’m on it super infrequently, though, plus I’m a rando, so my perspective’s definitely incomplete. I didn’t know people could go as far as to hate on an otome blogger for an article, and I’m sorry this happened to you.
    Aside from that I don’t understand? I’ve read only the non-spoiler parts of the Virche review, but imo there was not a thing you wrote in there that wasn’t supported by an argument, or didn’t come from personal viewpoint (you’ve even talked of others’ impressions). Plus you’ve made your likes and dislikes abundantly clear times and times again on this blog. It’s not like you were taking shots at the game for the heck of it. In summary, “??????”.

    Most importantly, hope you weren’t too deeply rattled, and glad you were able to recuperate and that you’re back in ass-kicking from o/ !

    “even if I didn’t go for CHie I would have done Yukiko or Rise xDDD”
    And you’d have been right, apparently 😀 Again, favourites or not this game has such a lovable cast. 🙂
    … Rise was probably the least compatible with my version of Yu, but I-the-player really liked her hijinks, and the dancing game made me appreciate her even more 😀

  2. yea it was even cheaper when on sale and it’s much more in depth than the anime (plus you can pick who he ends up with :D)

  3. Ohh okay lmao I’d feel so bad doing it, even if I didn’t go for CHie I would have done Yukiko or Rise xDDD

    Regarding my blog, I just needed a mental break because of a bunch of crazies who forgot that this is my blog and I’m allowed to dislike a game (virche) and started shit talking me all over otome game reddit which I get blog hits from lol. I mean I knew a lot of them over there hate me but I had some IRL stress and combined I just needed to go into hiding for a couple days lol. I have now returned back to my not-giving-a-fuck mode once again 🤣

  4. Correction: you absolutely can NTR Kanji, I think. I was just really bad at it.
    … I’m shipping these two as well, tbh. I picked that romance option because I was interested in Naoto as a character, in a “gotta read all the scenes and get all types of character interactions” kind of way, but my heart might not have been in it. 😀

    (Also, welcome back! Seeing that the blog had disappeared as I went to reply definitely spooked me more than any Halloween content I’ve come across these days. If there was an issue of whatever nature, I hope that it’s been solved and it’s behind you. I’m personally choosing to believe a witch did it.)

  5. My first dungeon crawler was actually chocobo mystery dungeon, god that was so fucking awful, I really hate those type of games lol. I don’t really consider Persona 4 a dungeon crawler since the dungeons are just side content and its mostly rpg/story stuff. My stat raiser anxiety came from PTSD of awful old otome games where 1 wrong stat screwed you up to the point that you’d have to start over or have a save every month or follow a guide like a hawk. I’m glad P4 wasn’t like that at all 😂

    Interesting to hear about Naoto. Since I shipped her with Kanji I’m sorta glad the game doesn’t really let you NTR him haha. My Yuu was a Chad who was like “hay gurl let’s go on a date” lmaoo saying everything directly haha.

    And thank you for watching my videos. I didn’t think anyone would find my crazy laughter entertaining but I’m glad someone does xDD

  6. I didn’t take the time to comment on this review when I first saw it, but goshdang what a joy to read. ❤
    I love the collab RPG reviews, and I'm really happy that you had such a nice time with the game! I've played P4G a couple years ago and have been fond of it ever since. P5 may has more polish, but I love the setting and cast of this one (big chunky archaic TVs and all :D), they really make it unique. It also was Baby's first Dungeon Crawler, which counts for something, I guess? And a huge part of why I love the genre, even if the genre hates me. ^^; But mostly a nice time in anime adventure land with a merry gang of doofuses.

    "We initially got completely overwhelmed by all the systems and complexity in the game and got really anxious that we were doing something wrong. We decided to just wing it and hope for the best."

    Haha, this is definitely way too familiar. The more things are available to do, the more real the stat-raiser anxiety feels. Cue new players running all across town like chickens with their heads cut off.

    "Most of the promotion art of this game always features Izanagi but hilariously he was one of the first ones I threw into the blender and never saw again. 😂😂"
    And you were absolutely right to do so, at least according to the 12,384 forum posts (approx.) I saw at the time about Izanagi being useless and the worst. I still hung onto him for a distressingly long time –I got attached– till I ran into a difficulty spike about mid-game and figured I could either grind for hours or craft me a stronger Electric Persona. I was very sad to realize how much easier it got once I got rid of him, haha.

    "I ended up settling down on Chie because she was the first girl who called out to Yuu when he transferred into the class and honestly I just liked her down to earth friendly personality and the desire to want to protect all those close to her. I know she’s not a popular pairing within the fandom (at least from what I read) but hey the game gives me the option and I took it. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)✨ "
    A rare Chie appreciator in the wild!
    I don't think the fandom even fully agrees on who's Best Girl (TM) and honestly who cares, lol. I personally went for Naoto but ended up flubbing the romance, because (NAOTO ROMANCE SPOILERS)

    when asked about gender positioning, I ended up responding "gender doesn't matter", wanting to encourage Naoto to be comfortable first, regardless of roles/expectations, instead of "I'm glad you're a girl", which is what I should've done to cause gap moe blushing, apparently. So protag ended up alone, which might've been just retribution for attempting to NTR Kanji.
    Also, because it was fun to me to have him miss all the romantic hints, my version of Yuu was more or less a charismatic plank of wood/enthusiastic dudebro hybrid at this point, always ready to have a cold one and deep convo with the boys, but utterly lost in non-platonic interaction with the opposite sex. Having him misread a romantic situation was 100% in character for him and actually the most likely possibility so I took his celibacy in stride. 😀

    Sidenote: Thank you for all the video content you've been including, it's really A+. All the more so here because I knew the game and of all the contagious laughter, but I appreciate it in general. Life and timezones prevent me from watching you stream but live or not, it's a good time!

  7. yea if they ever put more persona games on Steam I’ll consider it! It was more fun when I stream games rather than just play by myself in bed lol.

    And yea god I did NOT expect to laugh so much in Persona, I thought it was gonna be all serious lmaoo. 🤣🤣 And hahaha you got the harem 修羅場, I couldn’t bear to cheat on Chie xDDD

  8. Your review is so funny as usual. I played this game about 5 years ago and liked its social interactions very much. Story was not that great but character dynamics and interactions were awesome. Thanks a lot for your reaction video. I remembered the funny parts also your laugh is contagious 😂 Thanks a lot, those videos made my day. And I really appreciated that you were faithful to Chie. She is the best character but when I played I went for Yukiko. Also, I wasn’t faithful and get that harem bad ending. It was hilarious 🤣

    Will you play other persona games, such as persona 3 portable. You can be a girl mc and it makes it feel like an otome game. I hope you give that game a try but unfortunately ony available for psvita and psp. I hope it comes to steam too.

  9. yea I really had fun with it, the system is a bit too tedious for me to return to a 2nd time but I definitely enjoyed my first time around!

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