My favorite video game is Persona 4 Golden for the Playstation Vita.
Released in 2012, Persona 4 Golden is an enhanced port of the Playstation 2 game, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 originally released in 2008. It is the fourth installment of Atlus’s Persona series, a spin-off of their mainline series, Shin Megami Tensei. It has since evolved into Atlus’s most popular series, spawning multiple spin-off games and anime adaptations.
Persona 4 follows a group high schooler’s and a mysterious murder case in the small, fictitious town of Inaba. You, the protagonist, are a transfer student from the city and are staying with your relatives in Inaba for a year. It is not long after arriving in Inaba that you begin to hear strange rumors of a phenomenon known as the Midnight Channel. The rumor goes that on a rainy night, if you stare into a blank TV at exactly midnight, you will see your soulmate. You quickly learn that the Midnight Channel is connected to the bizarre string of kidnappings and murders that have been going on in Inaba since your arrival and it is up to you and your group of friends to unravel the mystery behind the murders using the powers of Persona, a manifestation of the user’s psyche.
Building on the success of its predecessor, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, Persona 4 is critically acclaimed primarily for its integration of dating sim and RPG mechanics. You as a player alternate between maintaining high school relationships, such as clubs and girlfriends, and typical RPG dungeon crawling with a pokemon-esque combat system. It lacks the fast-paced action of RPGs of recent years in favor of more strategic, decision-making. It is the successful marriage of these two genres, dating sim and RPG, that has given the Persona series mass appeal along with an incredibly devoted following.
Much in the vein of its progenitor series, the Persona series implements many ideas and themes unique to the genre of RPG. The series forgoes the high-fantasy setting typical of the genre in favor of a more realistic and modern setting akin to our own world. This serves to create a stark contrast with the numerous mythologies the game invokes. Use of mythological figures as combatants has been a series staple for generations of consoles and encourages tangential learning. Particularly for Persona 4, the game delves much into the themes of identity and the Jungian school of psychology, quite befitting for the name, Persona.
Lastly, the overall aesthetics of the game can be best described as “stylish”. What it lacks in graphical fidelity compared to its main competitor, Final Fantasy, it more than makes up for with its anime-style character portraits, interesting Persona designs and eye-catching menu design. Similarly, instead of scores of orchestral pieces, the game opts for a slew of some rather catchy J-pop music and particular kudos to the phenomenal voice-over work in the game. The English localization is regarded by many as one of the best localizations ever.
Darwin Geronimo is a 21-year-old senior from California State University East working toward his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Physics with a minor in Mathematics. His specialties include scripting, game physics, data analysis, and critical problem-solving. He hopes to one day break into the industry designing systems and mechanics.