A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The story centers around high school student who, along with other students, find themselves drawn into solving a murder mystery across their whole town. While they're hesitant to get involved, they support each other, trying to find the culprit with their newly found abilities. Along with making friends by way of social links, which provides new insight into characters as well as new abilities, players are encouraged to help other people in town with their problems. The characters constantly use communication, teamwork, and show their courage in facing threats that would terrify other characters.
Positive Role Models
There are characters that continually showcase teamwork by helping others, putting oneself in danger to save others. Characters may have disagreements or argue, but it's really because they care about each other. Questionable comments and situations related to a character's sexuality is the largest problem for the positive representations in the game.
While this game takes place in a rural province in Japan, the characters (for the most part) have Westernized appearances. There's a range of male and female characters, all of whom are capable and skilled fighters. One character is portrayed as asexual, while another questions his sexuality over the course of the game, suffering from offensive comments by other team members.
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Ease of Play
As in other Persona games, players have to balance a lot of game elements, such as part-time jobs, hanging out with friends, and enhancing characters. All of this has to be done with looming time pressures, meaning that the wrong decision or lack of action can have dire consequences later. Players also face randomized dungeons that don't come with frequent save points, along with some moments where the difficulty spikes suddenly. As a result, players will need to become accustomed to frequent saves and lots of trial and error before they're completely successful.
Violence & Scariness
Combat is frequently held in dungeons against fantastic creatures, using swords, knives, magical attacks, and more. While there are limited amounts of blood shown during battle, some blood is shown in environments and from murder victims. No gore is shown, though, and the nature of the beasts you're fighting limits the impact of combat.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's loads of sexual innuendo, ranging from light flirtatious comments to overt and sometimes aggressive statements about what appeals to certain characters. Some creatures are clearly phallic in nature, while others wear skimpy clothing, bondage wear, other items that leave little to the imagination. One character's questioning of his sexuality and reactions from other characters reek of homophobia.
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A range of profanity is used occasionally, such as "a--hole" and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
This is a title in the long-running Persona role-playing game franchise, which has spanned multiple consoles and released toys and other merchandise based on the game. The original game was exclusive to the Vita, and it's now on a variety of consoles and Windows PCs.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some characters smoke and drink. Some scenes take place in a store that converts into a bar at night. Other characters are shown with slurred speech and seem to be drunk. There's also a drinking game that can be played.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Persona 4 Golden is a downloadable role-playing game for the PlayStation Vita, Windows PCs, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. This is an expanded version of Persona 4, and focuses on a group of high school students that are trying to uncover who's behind a string of mysterious murders in a rural town. The playable teen characters do sometimes fight with each other and argue, but they actually care about their friends and are willing to put themselves in danger to save other people and the peace of the town. All of them showcase courage, communication skills, and teamwork facing odds that clearly scare many of the adults in the game. Players should be aware that this is a challenging title because they constantly have time pressures to save people, accomplish jobs or build new friendships, and explore randomly created dungeons without making significant mistakes. Combat has a prominent role as characters face off against monsters, and while there's some blood shown in battle from weapons or magical attacks, there's no gore. Blood's often shown in the environment and in cutscenes. There's lots of sexual innuendo, as well as some creatures that are clearly sexual in nature, with outfits that leave little to the imagination. There's also a character whose questioning of his sexuality by himself and by his teammates reeks of homophobia. Dialogue has occasional uses of "a--hole," "s--t," and other profanity. Finally, some characters are shown smoking, while others are shown slurring their words and drunk, and there are drinking games that characters can play.
Is It Any Good?
This role-playing game (RPG) remake was fantastic on the Vita, but its wider release on consoles means that a whole new audience of fans will be exposed to this classic game. Persona 4 Golden dives deep into the franchise's well-known mechanics of detailed story development through "Social Links," which are governed by how much time you invest into getting to know your fellow classmates. You have to become acquainted with the people in your life, taking on odd jobs or quests they ask you to complete, and spending time to make sure that they feel like you care. The same can be said for the randomly generated dungeons, which pack turn-based battles into twisting, cramped hallways. These tense, challenging fights between your party members and strange monsters have a specter of time pressure hanging in the background. If you can't defeat creatures in dungeons and save victims within a set number of days, the game ends. It's the balancing act between your personal life and your otherworldly investigator life that adds tension, drama, and emotion to a challenging game, and it will give dozens of hours of entertainment. Plus, it looks great in full HD, which the Vita and PS2 simply couldn't produce at the time, so visually, this feels like a completely new game. The most recent updated visuals feel like they're ripped from an animated feature, and with only a few moments of slowdown, look fantastic. The inclusion of a Suspend Save feature makes it a bit easier to make progress as well, since you don't always have to escape a dungeon or run to a save point before stopping your gameplay, which was always a headache from the original game.
All of this being said, the challenge is one of the biggest issues that some may find with Persona 4 Golden. The difficulty can spike on some dungeon levels, which can make improving your characters, boosting the levels of your collected Personas, and still accomplishing your goals a very steep climb. Similarly, the game's take on a character's questioned sexuality is cringeworthy. It was questionable in the original title, and it just feels antiquated and offensive now, especially when there's extra months and characters added into the title -- much of this could've been addressed with . It's a large blemish on an otherwise fantastic port of a classic game.
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