It was about four years ago that I first played Persona 4 on the PlayStation 2. Instantly it became one of my all-time favorites, and now with Persona 4 Golden finally outside of its PS Vita prison, I can finally play the definitive edition of the game.
In this post I won’t be talking much about the actual game itself, I’m more so gonna be focusing on all the extra content added in the Golden version of the game while making a few comments on the base game along the way.
I’ll also be comparing my experience with the game from four years ago to my experience with it now to see if the game still holds up.
Be warned that I will be touching on some spoilers for the game (Though I will be giving a heads up before I get into the end game.) If you’re reading this and you haven’t played Persona 4, I highly recommend it, it’s one of my all-time favorites and it’s only 20$ on Steam.
When I first started the game, one of the major things that immediately stood out to me was all of the quality of life changes that they made for the Golden version.
Instead of only three like in the original, now there are five different difficulty options, and that’s not all, you can even adjust how you want to play the game in a pretty detailed difficulty slider.
This makes the world of difference, now instead of spending hours grinding away for levels and Yen, you can just up the drop rate for both of these items and see how they flood over to you.
Now, every time you die you no longer start from your last save point and instead can restart from the floor you were in or even a battle that you were in. This might be the best addition to the game.
They also added the option to skip cutscenes, change difficulty whenever you want and removed all the bullshit difficulty spikes with the bosses.
Running on a PC, the game runs at a buttery smooth frame rate and it looks gorgeous.
On a pure technical aspect, this version of the game is already miles better than the original.
When it comes to all the bonus content, you won’t be seeing most of it for the vast majority of the game. It’s not until after you beat the second to last dungeon that you start to see it.
For most of the game, the only real addition is the inclusion of two new social links, new character Marie and Adachi. There’s also a few extra personas added into the game, but not enough to make a huge difference.
Speaking of social links, going back through almost all of them, I found a lot of them to be somewhat forgettable. With the exception of the main cast and important characters like Dojima, a lot of the time I just felt like the characters were being to direct, like the story was being told to me.
Take the devil arcana, when you’re talking to Sayako, you never get to see any of the things that happen to see, she just tells you all of them after the fact. And by the time that you do start seeing something, the social is already over.
There are some exceptions where this works okay like with Naoto, but for the most part, all of the social links in terms of writing felt bland to me and I definitely felt like some of the characters outside of the main cast needed some fleshing out.
But now, this leads us into all the new content added into the Golden version of the game. The entire new semester.
After you clear the penultimate dungeon, if you maxed out Marie’s social link, you’ll get access to the new month that takes place during winter, unlocking most of the new content in the game.
First of all, I love the aesthetic of the new month, winter isn’t something that I had seen before in a Persona game and this makes way for a lot of cool new events like New Years and a skiing trip. These things might seem kind of niche, any opportunity to spend more time with these characters is a win in my book.
You also unlock third-tier Personas for all your party members. Now only does this increase their stats and give their Personas a new look. It also unlocks a new exclusive move to them that is usually pretty fucking broken and extremely useful.
The new month also gives you the opportunity to max out all the social links that you might have left, allowing you to truly experience all of what the game has to offer on one playthrough.
Now I’ll be diving into all of the end game content, so consider this your last spoiler alert.
At the end of the month, you unlock an entire new dungeon based on the character of Marie. So, apparently Marie’s like this god or some shit, and she lost her memories for reasons that are to bland for me to remember.
Anyway, after learning this, she quarantines herself in a cave in the TV world, so now you gotta rescue her. Honestly, the whole situation surrounding Marie is pretty uninteresting and predictable if you ask me, but whatever, it mainly serves as an excuse to get a new dungeon.
And to be completely honest, this new dungeon kind of sucks. The whole thing is just the definition of a pain in the ass, especially this late in the game.
The dungeon starts with all of your items being taken from you and from now on, every time you get into a battle, your SP is reduced by half your current amount.
I guess I can kind of tell what the developers were going for when designing this dungeon, but it all backfires horribly by two things, the huge lack of rewards and how late in the game this takes place.
The amount of EXP you earn is pretty pathetic, even if you fight every single enemy on every single floor. And because your SP is reduced each time you battle, there’s really no reason to fight at all.
One might say that the reason to fight is to get more items so that you have a better chance of beating the boss. But the thing is, at this point in the game, you already have third-tier personas, you have moves that are so broken you can wipe out an entire encounter in one move. Items are completely unnecessary.
And to boot, the boss at the end is a complete pushover. Even with Marie’s two phases, even without your normal items and equipment, the boss is simply not that hard. And definitely not hard enough to warrant having to grind out items and equipment in the dungeon.
So, to conclude this section, the story surrounding the dungeon is at best passable. The dungeon itself is a pain in the ass. And you barely even get anything for beating it. Mainly more story content involving Marie, which doesn't really add much to the game's overarching story.
The only real reason you have to beat this dungeon is to see the new epilogue added into the game. (which I will talk about soon.)
When I first played this game four years ago, I unknowingly got the good ending, not knowing there was an ending better than that. I genuinely thought that I got the best ending, and it wasn’t until later that I found out about the true ending.
Not wanting to replay the entire game just for a new ending, I looked it up on YouTube and even though I didn’t sit though all the cutscenes, I felt like I got the gist of it and just left it there.
But now with this new playthrough, I finally got the chance to experience the true ending firsthand.
And to be honest, it was pretty underwhelming. The whole ending felt forced and really, you can remove everything that happens in the true ending from the game and the story would make just as much sense.
The true ending starts with what might be one of the most dumbass and bullshit plot twist in a JRPG. So basically, the big bad guy you beat at the end of December wasn’t actually the biggest of the big bad guys. There was another one on top, a guy that’s an even bigger asshole.
And this big bad guy is the fucking gas station employee from the beginning of the game. The fucking! Gas station employee! I’m sorry!? How does that make any sense!? How the hell was I supposed to figure this shit out!?
And to make matters more disappointing, this new big bad guy’s motivation is pretty much the exact same one as the previous bad guy. And since we don’t really get to know anything about this new character, this whole section just feels like a complete repeat of events that already happened.
It feels forced into the game to have a proper good and true ending, when the good ending was already great.
Heck, I actually prefer the good ending, the true one just messes up the pace of the whole game with an entire new dungeon that doesn't really add anything to the story.
I guess there are a few things that this true ending does conclude. Like how Narukami got his powers and the dream sequence in the beginning. But in my opinion, none of these questions warrant making an entire sequence that pretty much ruins the pacing of the whole game.
And the thing is, this could have worked as a great ending. Maybe remove the giant eyeball fight in Adachi’s dungeon and then replaced it with this in a way that ties in better with the rest of the game and you have a pretty climactic and existing ending in your hands.
But as it is now, it’s just kind of disappointing and I definitely prefer to more concise good ending.
Now that concludes most of the content in the game itself, however, for the Golden version of the game, if you got the true ending and rescued Marie, you unlock a new epilogue that takes place an unspecified amount of years after the game ends.
And honestly, this new post credit scene is absolutely fantastic. It’s extremely brief and uneventful, but what it does do is give you a glimpse into what happened to all these characters.
I know I’ve criticized this game a lot in the last few paragraphs, but Persona 4 really is one of my favorite games ever made. And a lot of it has to do with these characters.
They all feel so real, they’re problems feel distinctively human, they have dreams and aspirations. Thorough my two playthroughs of this game, I really feel like I’ve connected with these fictional characters in an emotional way.
And this ending were you just get to hang out with these future versions of them is (to me) the perfect way to conclude this amazing game.
I really did get a little emotional at the end when you see how all of them ended up. I really have to hand it to Atlus for creating such an inspiring world, narrative and characters. Ones that I will not forget soon.
Those are all my thoughts on Persona 4 Golden. If you have any thoughts of your own on this game, please post them down on the comments below.
Also be on the lookout for a similar post on Persona 5 Royal coming out sometime in the future.