A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Persona 4 Golden is a role-playing game for the PlayStation Vita and Windows PCs. 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 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. Players should be aware that this is a challenging game 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 in the game 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 has hints 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.
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What's it about?
PERSONA 4 GOLDEN is the expanded version of 2008's Persona 4, and takes place in the rural town of Inaba, Japan. Players take on the role of a young high school kid who's recently moved to the town, only to find that he and his classmates are stuck in the middle of a surprising murder spree that tends to happen when the fog rolls into town. Fortunately, he and his friends discover that they have access to Personas -- shadowy reflections of their inner selves -- which give them magical powers and abilities. Players will need to balance their school work and the other demands of life, such as part-time jobs and school clubs. But they'll also need to build their relationships or "Social Links," which enhances their powers, unlocks completely new skills for party members, and further expands the story. Golden adds plenty of new content as well, such as two additional months to play through, a new character to add to your party, new areas to explore, and much more. Plus, the game is presented in full HD with the option of Japanese or English voice-overs to draw you into the story.
Is it any good?
This role-playing game (RPG) remake was fantastic on the Vita, but its release on PC 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. It requires investment in becoming 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.
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. Add to that the limited number of save points in dungeons, and some newcomers to the franchise or to RPGs in general may be daunted. 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. It's a large blemish on an otherwise fantastic port of a classic game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Persona 4 Golden affected by the fact that you're fighting fantastical creatures? Would it have more impact if the enemies were more realistic? Would it have more impact if there was a lot more graphic blood and gore in the game, or is the plot and the gameplay graphic enough?
How far would you go to help a friend? Would you put yourself and other friends in danger to save them? If a friend is in trouble, should you consider getting help from authorities instead of doing something on your own?
- Platforms: PlayStation Vita, Windows
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Atlus
- Release date: June 13, 2020
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence
- Last updated: June 15, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.