Persona 4 Golden




Mature RPG with turn-based violence, sex, and profanity.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game's story centers around a high school student who finds himself in the middle of an intense murder mystery. Rather than turn a blind eye, he finds the courage to get to the bottom of the mystery and help restore peace to his rural town. Players are also encouraged to make friends in the game. Doing so allows them to create "social links," which can unlock bonuses and secrets within the game. Characters frequently engage in combat, but this is only because it is necessary in order to get rid of the evil creatures. Violence is not glorified.

Positive role models

All of the focal characters in this game exude very positive characteristics. They understand the value of working together, and have a focus on the greater good rather than individual greed. However, they use a lot of violence.

Ease of play

This game fits into the Persona video game franchise as being quite challenging. The series is designed for experienced gamers who know how to find the perfect strategy for turn-based battles. In addition, navigating the winding mazes and environments throughout, the game can prove to be a frustrating experience, with trial and error sometimes being the only way to find the way through certain areas. For the experienced player, the difficulty is manageable, and it makes the entire gameplay experience more rewarding.


This game contains frequent battle sequences; however, they are always presented in a turn-based style. This makes the fighting much more about strategy rather than brutality. Nevertheless, during these battles, there are weapons (swords, magical effects, and guns), loud sound effects, splashes of blood, and other visual effects that add to the intensity. Many fights are between humans or human-like creatures, though the entire nature of the game is very surreal and highly detached from the real world.


There are female characters that have exposed breasts, though they are never depicted in a sexual connotation. There is, however, sexual innuendo within the dialogue. In addition, one area that players must explore is a strip club. There is a dancer in the club but she is wearing a bikini. Descriptions of "Persona" creatures also reference sex (e.g., the text-based description of a succubus includes a line about having "sexual intercourse" with men). Finally, there are some surreal persona creatures that resemble human genitals.


There is a lot of profanity in the dialogue, including the words "a--hole" and "s--t." "F--k" does not appear, however.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Players will encounter characters who smoke and drink. There is one prolonged scene in which characters slur their speech and appear to be drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Persona 4 Golden is the PlayStation Vita version of the game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4.  Throughout the game, players will need to battle evil forces. These strategic battle sequences include use of weapons, intense sound effects, and depictions of blood. In addition, there is sexuality in the game including innuendo in the dialogue as well as partial female nudity and characters that look phallic. Smoking and drinking also occurs among some characters though it is not a focal point of the game. Profanity appears in the dialogue. The Shin Megami video game series has been around for years, and it has a very distinct style of presentation. The games tend to be very surreal and a bit confusing at times. This game is no exception. Although the story takes a lot of twists and turns, it is ultimately about finding the courage within to overcome huge obstacles.

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading


Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • logic
  • strategy

What Kids Can Learn

Persona 4 Golden wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading


Thinking & Reasoning

  • collecting data
  • logic
  • strategy

Persona 4 Golden wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

This Learning Rating review was written by Mark Raby

What's it about?

In PERSONA 4 GOLDEN, a young high school student in rural Japan suddenly finds himself in the middle of a high-profile murder mystery. He takes it upon himself to figure out what is going on so that the community can be peaceful once again. Players team up with other characters who are in the same situation and they work together to solve the mystery. Evil creatures and characters appear frequently and players must defeat them in turn-based combat to proceed. The game is filled with twists and turns in the storyline, always leaving players guessing what will happen next. Much of the game takes place in a parallel 'dream world' where it is unclear what's real and what's not. This level of ambiguity means that every piece of the story is integral.

Is it any good?


Persona 4 Golden will appeal to a specific type of gamer. As a role-playing game (RPG) with turn-based combat, it relies heavily on developing the right battle strategy and sticking with the game long enough to level up characters so they are ready for combat. While it may seem a bit strange at times, the story is unabashedly compelling and will keep the attention of any player willing to give it the level of focus it requires. The turn-based RPG seems to be a lost art form at times, but this game masters the art beautifully. It is not a game for the faint of heart, though. There are a lot of adult themes ranging from drinking to sex, but the complexity of the gameplay and the nuanced nature of the storyline are best suited for older players anyway.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence in this game. Do you think this game is overtly violent?

  • What do you think of the casual references to drinking and smoking?

  • How do you select video games for playing?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation Vita
Available online?Not available online
Release date:November 20, 2012
Genre:Role Playing
ESRB rating:M for Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence

This review of Persona 4 Golden was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 3, 3, and 5 year old Written byjonallypugliese1023 November 1, 2013

Persona 4 Golden

Love Persona 4 Golden and all the Persona and the Shin Megami Tensei games. The "Not For Kids" rating is completely unnecessary. There is NO blood there is fighting yes but absolutely no blood NO sex there is flirting and you can date a girl and you see Yukiko Chie Naoto Rise and Nanako in towels very briefly you see them in bikinis a couple of times but thats it. I am really doubting that who ever reviewed this game didn't play it much if at all the "evil creatures" as you call them are called shadows the "dream world" isn't a dream its a world inside the tv and what do you mean by "its unclear what's real and what's not" everything is real inside the tv world you should try actually playing the games before reviewing and rating them the "Not For Kids" label should be removed and this review should be redone by someone who's actually played it.
Teen, 16 years old Written byCloudIsC00L723 December 8, 2012

CSM has done it again. This game doesn't deserve a "Not For Kids" rating.

To start off, this game is NOT very violent. While the storyline does involve around a series of murders in a small Japanese town, the murders themselves are not shown and while some of the bodies are shown (one hanging on a telephone wire), no blood or gore is shown. The turn-based fighting is frequent but never ever graphic. However, some persona can be pretty bizarre/dark in appearance. As for sexual themes, THERE IS NO SEX in the game other than some topless persona, some that look like male genitals, some implied/suggested nudity and flirting here and there. But honestly, it's nothing I haven't heard about in high school and believe me, your teen has probably seen/heard a lot more explicit sexual content already in movies. Heck, CSM gave the movie Taking Woodstock "iffy" for 15+ and it has graphic nudity and they also gave Monty Python's Flying Circus "iffy" for 13+ and it has topless female nudity (mostly illustrated). Flirting is also very common in a normal high school. As for language, while swearing is frequent, it's fairly mild for an M-rating and I've heard worse in high school (such as the occasional f-word) and sometimes my teachers use s--t. This game doesn't go beyond PG-13 levels of swearing so it's really nothing to worry about. There's really one thing iffy in the game I can point out and that is that there is a long scene in a club/restaurant where some of the teen characters appear to be drunk. While a couple characters were wondering if the drinks they were having were liquor, one character explains that alcohol hasn't been served at the club they're at for years and that they're probably just "drunk on the air". One (drunk) character also insists that she ordered soft drinks. The drunk characters later play "King's Game" (similar to a drinking game) but no alcohol is consumed. Overall, this game is great (if challenging) for older teens and up. I really hope the ESRB comes out with a "Teens 15+" rating just like they did with the "Everyone 10+" rating back in 2005 because several other reviewers for the original Persona 4 and I agree that this game doesn't deserve an M-rating. I can see reasons why the ESRB gave this game an M-rating but it's nothing compared to games like Nier, Dragon's Dogma, and Bioshock. One last note is that the Japanese ratings board rated this game "C" for 15+. I hope my review was helpful and have fun saving the town of Inaba!
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bymissingnochu April 23, 2015

Touching game about Friendship, Teamwork, and Facing Yourself.

I believe the people here at Common Sense were a bit harsh on Persona 4. It's a J-RPG (Japanese Role-playing Game) styled turn-based RPG, With charm, great characters, and hilarious situations, as well as an interesting plot. While they say it's all about violence and sex, that's not true in the slightest. While there may be a bit of swearing, and sexual themes are used throughout the series, it doesn't overshadow the true story in the slightest. The characters have things called shadow-selves, which are created by the regrets and fears about themselves that grow and thrive inside their own dungeon inside the TV which they must defeat and accept in order to create their source of power, Personas. (Sounds strange, but it makes more sense once you play it.) Each member of the team needs to overcome these fears, and telling themselves "This is apart of me, and that's okay." There are really 2 iffy shadow selves shown in the series, which would be Shadow Kanji and Shadow Rise. Kanji is a soft-souled, kind-hearted individual that likes to sew and bake. However, he feels these things are too feminine, as a crossdressing detective named Naoto Shirogane (she crossdresses to cover up her identity.) shows up in the story, he takes a liking to her and starts to get confused about his sexuality. This makes him question himself and tries to cover it up with an overly manly appearance. Therefore, his shadow is a gay stereotype, and his dungeon takes place in a gay bathhouse, or a Sauna. After defeating this side of him, he accepts it. "While this may be a side of me that I don't like, It's a side of me, I'm stuck with it." It teaches people of all ages to think to themselves that you're you, and you should face yourself and accept it, which I believe is a very mature message that everybody should learn. The combat in Persona 4 not be as violent as the CSM says it is. While your characters are given weapons, (Swords, Martial Arts, Kunai Knives, Fans, Claws, and my personal favorite, a Folding Chair.) the violence is minimal. Shadows don't exactly shed blood, so there isn't any blood or gore. I didn't see anything about "phallic enemies" in the games, the worst being a snake with the gender signs wrapped around it's body, and you do not use your powers against humans. (Except for Chie kicking Yosuke in a comedic fashion whenever he does something embarrassing in front of her.) In fact, most of the fighting isn't done by the high school students, and by the Personas themselves. The battle is fun and tactical, as most JRPGs are. It's very hard, and I found myself playing it over and over trying to beat the hardest difficulty. You have to plan ahead, making strategies, fusing powerful personas, and buying new armor and weapons for your characters. You will most likely die if speeding through. Speaking of, the characters are fun, colorful, hilarious, and downright silly. They're actually pretty realistic characters, nobody is a perfect angel or a complete fartwad. They're all pretty nice people with a range of flaws, just like real teenagers. I can't think of any I dislike. When you're not fighting evil entities inside the TV, you're hanging out at Junes, communicating with friends, and improving your social links. Social linking is basically a friend simulator. You get to interact with other students of the school, and even attend class. (Which has some surprisingly hard questions, I might add.) Your social links with characters increase and decrease with every move you make, which teaches players how to be friendly in and outside the game. Everybody has their own personal favorite characters, and mine is Chie Satonaka. Persona 4 is a overall, a masterpiece of a game. While there may be a be some iffy content, it's a game about teamwork, friendship, and accepting yourself. While it may not be "educational", there are lots of hidden messages slipped throughout the whole thing. It's okay to be gay. Know someone before you date them. Make friends, it'll help you. Stay in school, kids! You don't always need backup. Sometimes people aren't what they seem. Plus, attending classes which are pretty much a must, (skipping will mess up your social links and will result in poor responses from your friends) and is not a "teaching tool", but will teach you some cool stuff about math and science at a highschool level, so on so forth. While it's a no-no for younger children, if you have a more mature tween or teen, go out and buy it. If your child owns a PSVita, go out and buy it. It'll be worth the money.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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