Persona 4 Golden is coming to current generation consoles on January 19, 2023. And though it’s a game that’s received much love and adoration over the years, is it a game that’s worth picking up and playing? Or is it just another nostalgia cash grab by Big Gaming?
Persona 4’s Switch Port Is Nostalgia Capitalism Done Wrong
First things first, let me get my biases out of the way. I love Persona, Shin Megami, and even many of the extremely questionable dungeon crawlers that Atlus has produced. Atlus just knows how to get the dopamine firing in my brain.
But does that mean it’s worth the cost in 2023? We’ve seen no shortage of remakes, remasters, and ported games hit the shelves in recent months. And not all of these games are worth buying.
Persona 4 has many things that fans of JRPGs want to see. You can interact with a diverse array of NPCs, dozens of side quests and 179 Personas to fuse, adding depth to an otherwise simple but standard turn-based combat system. And the music, of course, is amazing.
Where Persona 4 fails, though, is that it shows its age. Not just in graphics (which I’d argue adds to its charm) but in how dungeons are laid out. I, personally, love a dungeon crawler. I’m really good at doing tedious, repetitive things. That’s not something to brag about, but I’m saying it so you know that I’m perfectly happy to grind through dozens of dungeon floors for hours on end just to see those levels go up or to collect valuable resources.
But Persona 4? It has one of the most boring dungeons I’ve grinded through in recent years. If you’re coming to Persona 4 after playing Persona 5, you will be disappointed. But when you’re not in a dungeon, the rest of the game can almost feel like a job, especially if you’re attempting to get that Golden ending. It’s in this way that Atlus truly botches the port. It’s not enough to update the game, and certain things need improvement. And while it’s true that writing and characters are much harder to fix, increased spawns would have been a welcome change.
Where Persona 4 shines is in its well-written character arcs, though this doesn’t extend to your companions. Somehow, the characters closest to the protagonist are some of the worst written, with the exception of Kanji’s social link. But the characters that are easy to miss, like Ai Ebihara and Naoki Konishi, are one of the main reasons why I play Persona games. And it’s characters like these that might make you want to pick up this game.
That, and the Personas, of course. Personas are always cool, full stop. But ultimately, these awesome side characters and cool mythological deities and monsters aren’t enough to hide one of Persona 4 Golden’s fatal flaws: its consistent homophobia and queerbaiting. And because gender identity and sexuality are significant in the first third of the game, it can leave a sour taste in your mouth.
With all this combined, yeah. Persona 4 Golden’s port to current generation consoles is definitely a nostalgia cash grab, without enough entertainment value or updates to make the dozens of hours you’ll have to sink into it to complete it worthwhile.