Flashback Backlog: Persona 4 Golden

Persona 4 goldenKingdom Hearts II. The Last of Us. Persona 4 Golden. 

The Roads of Desire

For years, I’ve been waiting for a game to fully capture me and my emotions as Kingdom Hearts II did back in 2005. I was never introduced to the Persona games during the Playstation 2 era, so I had no clue Persona 3 and 4 existed. Back in 2012, Persona 4 Golden caught my eye, and I was immediately drawn towards it. I watched a trailer for this stylish JRPG, and was first entranced my the music of the trailer, seemingly interesting characters and intriguing story. However, the fact that I didn’t own a Vita was holding me back from this game. The game came out in 2012, but I didn’t play it until late 2013. In the meantime, my first experience with the series came on the Playstation 3 in the form of Persona 4 Arena, the fighting game. Of course, since I didn’t play Persona 4 or Persona 3,the story quickly confused the crap out of me, so I stuck to arcade mode for the most part. P4 Arena was indeed a great fighting game, but I couldn’t really get into it since I didn’t play any of the other games. So what was next? In the summer of 2013, I saw that Persona 3 FES was on sale on the Playstation Network. At the time, I was saving up for a Playstation 4 and a Playstation Vita, so it seemed like a perfect chance to experience the true nature of a Persona game. Persona 3 did not disappoint in any way. Persona 3 FES was a perfect game for me. Even though it had a slow start and I’m not a major fan of the combat, the endless hours I put into that game was well spent. It was the most addicting game I’ve ever played, and for a whole week, I was mainly in my room with my PS3 maxing out those social links. After the grand time I had with P3 FES, my anticipation level for P4G was off of the charts.

Fun Fact: Persona 3 FES inspired me to create the “Flashback Backlog” portion of this website.

Click the image above for my Flashback Backlog entry on Persona 3 FES

Click the image above for my Flashback Backlog entry on Persona 3 FES

The Beginnings of Love

I finally got my hands on a Vita in December… but that was a month after I got my hands on Persona 4 Golden. For the first time ever, I bought a game for a system I didn’t have yet. Yeah, it was that serious. I finally started playing Persona 4 Golden on December 5, 2012. P4G did indeed suffer from a relatively low start, just like P3 FES, but once you get into the swing of things, there is no turning back. The formula that makes Persona works is truly remarkable.

Persona 4 didn’t have a revolutionary combat system or breakout dungeons, and those are the only “ordinary” things about this otherwise remarkable game. It was the story, music and characters that made the game special. Without spoiling anything for those of you who weren’t blessed enough to play this game yet, the story revolves around a guy who just moved to a small town who quickly becomes invested in a mysterious murder case. It quickly becomes known to him and his group of friends, that this is no ordinary case, and super natural elements come into play. With your friends, you journey to find the killer and stop as many murders as possible. That is just a vague description on the backdrop of what brings these characters together. Other than trying to solve the case, you’ll be spending most of your time doing what some people take for granted in life: Attending high school. You’ll have to study for exams, answer questions in class, make friends, get a part-time job and much more. What may sound mundane at first quickly becomes a fun routine. You have to balance friendships, school work and a job in a coherent way… Oh, and don’t forget, you have a murder to solve.  Yeah, all of this may sound overwhelming at first, but Persona does it in a way that eases you into the social machine.

There is a reason why P4 has such a big fan base. Everything from the music and stylish nature of the game contributes to its success. 

What makes this high school simulator fun you ask? Well first off, this isn’t a high school sim. By now you know that it isn’t your average JRPG either, but what makes Persona 4 Golden so good is the way the story is presented, its well written characters and overall charm. In a unique way, you’ll try to solve the case and find out what’s really going on in your small town. The pay off at the end of the road is so satisfying, enhanced by the fact that you can indeed fail in catching the killer.

But all of that would be boring if you didn’t have a group of friends with you on your journey right? The cast of characters in P4G are some of the best I’ve seen in video gaming. When you hang out with them, it feels like your listening to an actual person talk about their lives, problems or goals. They aren’t typical video game stereotypes or clones of an anime character; they all have truly unique minds. And I’m not just talking about the main cast, even characters who don’t help you solve the case are pretty legit. That being said, nothing tops P4G’s main cast of characters. I love anything in video games, anime or books with great characters, and I’ve never seen such a perfect blend of characters in any form of media, until I played this game. Flirting with Rise, laughing with Yukiko, laughing at Kanji, marveling at how adorable Chie is, bonding with Yosuke and Teddie, and investigating with Naoto is the most fun you’ll have in any video game. You’ll feel as if you’ve been friends with these fictional characters for years, even though you’ve only played the game that they’re in. The bond that this game manages to create between the player and these characters are truly beautiful.

persona 4 romance

One thing I love about P4G is how it handles relationships. You COULD date more than one girl in the game, but they make you take into account how wrong it is without overly punishing the player. It provides a message saying, “Hey, this is a video game so date who you want, but just know this is a real jerk move and you shouldn’t do this in real life.”

Revisiting a New Place

It took me a while, but I finally beat the game on Christmas day that year. Everything was perfectly wrapped up, and my forty plus hours with the game was pure bliss. Even though the combat didn’t blow me away, I had no regrets nor complains about the game. P4G actually made the list of games that made me cry. I almost cried at the last episode to Season 1 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, but only the beginning of The Last of Us and a certain scene of Kingdom Hearts II really made me shed tears. I was swept away by the emotions in the final moments of the game and I was sad that it was over and happy that I played the game in the first place. After that, I started thinking where it fit into my list of best games ever. At first, I placed it above Kingdom Hearts II as the favorite, but the more I thought about KH II’s story, gameplay and characters, I couldn’t do it. I grew up with Kingdom Hearts; that was my childhood and I am who I am today because of it. But then, seven months later, I decided to start new game plus of P4G. Again, I was enjoying my time with the game, but half way through something happened. I was trying to max out a social link I failed to complete the first time around, but got stuck. I searched online for a quick fix… but stumbled upon an interesting tidbit. It turns out, the ending I got wasn’t the best ending possible. The ending I got initially wasn’t bad or dark, and it seemed perfect at the time, so I never wondered if another ending besides a bad one existed. So, when I found out there was another ending, I wasn’t mad that I missed out the first time, I was filled with glee that I could see an ending I never knew existed. It turns out, I picked a “wrong” choice in the closing chapter, so this time, I changed my choice, and was greeted with even more golden moments. I didn’t think the game could have a better ending than it did, but the best ending possible perfectly placed the bow on this game. Even though I didn’t cry again, the emotions I felt at the end of my second playthrough was unexplainable. I was blown away, and after the REAL ending, Persona 4 Golden became my favorite video game ever.

Without spoiling anything, right before the game is at its end, make sure to go back to the place where everything is great. 

I was waiting for a game to match my love for Kingdom Hearts II, but after seeing the wondrous ending to the fantastical journey that was Persona 4 Golden, I found something that surpassed my favorite game of all time. I sincerely recommend Persona 4 Golden to anyone who plays… nah, I recommend P4G to everyone.

The greatest group of friends to be featured in any form of media.

In my opinion, this is the greatest group of friends to be featured in any form of media.

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