There aren’t many games which, upon completion, I will sit back in my chair and feel genuinely upset that it’s over. Persona 4 not only did that but sent me through phases of denial, sadness, and anger that I’d completed such a marvellous game.
The fourth in the supremely successful Persona series by “Shin Megami Tensei” creators Atlus, players take on the role of a (rather androgynous) highschool student. Sent away to live with your uncle you have to split your time between passing tests and making friends and solving a burgeoning murder mystery case surrounding the town’s mysterious fog.
Though it may sound odd, the gameplay is often at its most compelling when you are performing the former: making friends, enemies and playing mini games to rank up your “social links”. These links will then help you create more powerful “Personas” (think anthropomorphic deities) which will aid your fight in the dark world – which is found via a portal in the town’s TVs.
The combat is turn-based and polished, as most Japanese RPGs are, with a good mix of status effects, elemental effects and buffs and debuffs. The music and dialogue is what turns them into unique events however. Your friends and allies chat to each other, cheer each other on and will even step in to take attacks for you. The soundtrack, a mix of eclectic J-pop and upbeat tempos, will have you whisking your way though the dungeons. Due to the fact that enemies will appear in the dungeons as floating ghosts or wandering shadows, you will never be surprised (read: annoyed) by a random encounter.
A polar opposite to the more dour Persona 3 (even the colour scheme is swapped from blue to a brighter yellow), the game has its dark moments too. A good amount of adult humour, conflict and drama is thrown into the main storyline, which has three endings depending on how you played the game.
I spent around 100 hours on the game – which is on PS2 – during which I barely touched my PC to play any AAA game out currently. Hopefully that should tell you more than this review possibly could. All that’s left now is to save up for a PS4 so I can nab Persona 5 when it comes out!
(Persona 4 is also available with updated graphics and an extra 2-3 hours of story on PS Vita as Persona 4 Golden).