Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4



A fascinating, but dark mature RPG full of horror & sadness.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While the characters get together and work together to solve mysteries, some are churlish, rude folk who are violent and/or swear (The cussing is full of four letter words.,although the C word is never used, many others are.) Schools and teachers are made fun of. Also, some of the kids seem depressed and it appears to be more than teenage angst. Boys are too pushy when flirting with girls.


There is animated blood and there is death. But it's not the gushing kind as in Devil May Cry. What you do see is blood that's somewhat akin to exploding fireworks. You don't see wounds, but you see this exploding balloon of blood spraying like fireworks above the heads of those in the battle room. And there's a lot of battling.


There's partial nudity and a fair amount of innuendo. The innuendo is more like flirting that all kids do, but it can be fairly aggressive. The partial nudity is female, including showing of breasts, in the Japanese comic book style of manga. Primarily, it happens in the dream portion of the game. Also, you'll enter an area at one point that seems like a strip club. On the wall are shadows portraits of what appear to be naked women. There is no stripping, but there is a dancer in a bikini.


You'll definitely encounter cuss words. You'll hear "s--t" and "asshole" a lot.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are references, but smoking or drinking isn't promoted as a good thing. It's just there. For instance, the uncle, who's the main cop in the mystery, sometimes wishes he had a beer or a cigarette when things are stressful. You will see people who are drunk.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while this game feature high school students as protagonists, this is an M-rated game intended for those 17 and up. The game contains a dark storyline, and is full of cussing, references to alcohol and smoking, along with occasional partial nudity. Within the first hour, you'll witness flirting by boys that's too pushy. At a crime scene, you'll see blood on the walls. Some of the script that you'll read has references to female monsters who have sexual relations with men. People act drunk as well. But even more than this, there are characters who seem to be severely depressed and the nightmares that the main character enters feel real. The horror and sadness is palpable, and that may require more maturity from the player to reckon with than the violence, sex references, partial nudity, and references to tobacco or alcohol.

What's it about?

The Persona series of role playing games are notable and generally lauded because of their seamless mix of every day reality with dark fantasy.In SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: PERSONA 4, an M-rated, anime-like PlayStation 2 game, a teen boy moves from the bustling city to a small Japanese town. Just as he starts school, a woman involved in a love triangle is brutally murdered nearby. In this foggy, rainy town, he and his new friends set out to solve the twisting, turning mystery.

Persona 4 plays somewhat like an old school adventure game. In a limosine that looks like a funeral parlor, you'll meet the hook-nosed Igor, who'll help you proceed through the game. Using the 'X' button, you listen to and scroll through the words of townspeople and of those in a strange dream world. As you ask questions, you get some experience points. When you're taken to the dream world to play as persona Izanagi, you'll turn into long-coated warrior wielding a blade and magic spells. Here, your other characters have their own personas and will help you out with spells. When you win, you level up. You'll need to save frequently, unless you are in Beginner Mode (which lets you retry the game after dying).

Is it any good?


From the get-go, you'll be privy to mature sexual themes like love triangles, a foul-mouthed school teacher, and references to drinking and smoking. Yet this is no over-the-top Grand Theft Auto IV. All the references just make the game more intriguingly real, not satirically hyperreal. If you're used to an action game, the nature of this RPG is slower. But the curious will be rewarded with some scares along with a deep storyline and well-rounded characters who run the gamut of personalities.

The odd, nightmarish dream world may be too much for some with its long-tongued creatures and bears who have nothing inside their bodies. Though the weakest part of Persona 4 is the artwork, the anime style keeps it from being too frightening. The turn-based fighting can get a somewhat dull at times if you're not into the strategy that goes into defeating each strange foe. Ultimately, though, Persona 4 is a carefully honed game with a story that may not be unique, but is nonetheless as compelling as a page-turner. The game also includes a bonus soundtrack disk.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the dark mystery within the game. How does it compare to books and movies that are equally dark? Which of the characters appeal to you most, and why? Do they seem real to you? Which of the characters in the nightmare sequences do you enjoy and which disturb you? What exactly disturbs you? Do the nightmares feel real or too real? Do you ever want to stop playing because everything seems overwhelmingly sad? Or do you look of it as just a game in which you can easily separate the fiction from reality?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 2
Available online?Not available online
Release date:December 9, 2008
Genre:Role Playing
ESRB rating:M for Alcohol Reference, Animated Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Violence

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  • 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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Adult Written byGamerStudent October 6, 2010
I am a teenager an very into gaming, i love this game and i dont see why its rated so high, its fun and a memorail game. i do not recomend this to anyone under 12/13. If u know ur child well and hes not an influencail kid like one day he/she acts like this then wen he sees this guy or any form of media he/she acts differently. I am 14 years old and im not influencail honestly, i belive in myself and others and i do wat i think is best. MY advice to parents, if u have kid who is 15 years theres no doubt if u should get it for him if he'll will like it, 12/13 years may vary, if ur 12 year old is immature u could give it to him bt thats ur choice 13+ is generally good so i rate this game "T" for violence, animated blood, slight sexual content and alchohalic reference. I really hope u take this concideration and not shuve me aside likeany other unknown reviwer as a gamer, ur child may miss out on an experience that hell remember and love, it might even give good ideas for writing esays, it did for me so why not ur kid?
Adult Written byRachael Ward May 6, 2012

A game that demonstrates the importance of truth

While I admit that I agree that a lot of what this review says is true, I feel that there are a lot of positive messages presented in P4 that have been overlooked. Each of the characters that are thrown into the dream world in the TV are forced to face their shadows or inner demons. While these scenes are very dark and borderline disturbing, it has a purpose. Each character comes to the realization that they need to accept all that they are, both the good and bad, in order to fully realize who they are as people. The main motif of the game as a whole is truth and its intangibility. Especially in an era where we are surrounded by media which can blind us to what is real or fake. Something that is very true to real life and important for people to understand. While this game isn't for everyone, I whole heartedly recommend P4 if you are looking for a game that has good RPG action, deep characters and heart pumping mystery.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byROS1313 July 4, 2014

Prepare for a LOOONG Review That Explains This Masterpiece in Detail

The site's review makes the game sound far worse than it actually is in terms of mature content. Granted, there IS in fact mature content in this game, but that's kind of a given once you notice the Mature rating on the box. First of all, this site COMPLETELY skipped the positives of this game. There was a 0 rating in terms of good morals? REALLY?! I went into this game as an antisocial person in search of a pastime. After 70+ hours of playing through its story, I came to realize several things about myself and about others: While at times in our real world other people may seem like they're out for all the wrong reasons, especially in the mindset of someone like me who distrusts people in general, there are more people who understand and are like you than you realize, they CAN and most likely WILL help you through your ordeals, there IS good inside even the meanest of people, and everyone needs help sometimes getting over their own faults. Everyone has things inside that they don't want to admit to themselves, but as the game shows, holding these dark feelings inside is harmful if you don't seek some form of acceptance, from yourself or from others. Persona 4 teaches you to be true to yourself and others and to never be ashamed of who you are, and it also teaches a great deal about the value of friendship, through its constant motto: "Bonds are the power of people", which is even emphasized by its integration into the gameplay itself. While some characters may seem like negative role models, most of them are redeemed in the end through realizing and accepting their faults, thus causing them to change for the better. That being said, the iffy parts come next I suppose, since I assume that's what this review is for. Swearing is definitely a part of this game, but it's not really that bad, depending on your personal attitude towards curse words. No "f bombs" are ever dropped, and the language stops at the "s-word". The violence is minimal and the site's review really over-imagines it in my opinion. It is an anime-styled game, and while some anime can be violent Persona 4's fighting is more cartoon-like than anything. The most "realistic" violence you'll really see are people swinging swords or using guns, but the result is never gory and these actions are mostly aimed towards the monsters that inhabit the game's TV world, with the exception of the climactic battle against the killer, who is injured in the fight but DOES NOT bleed or die afterwards, instead going to prison. Really, that battle plays out like a Spider-man comic: Heroes find bad guy, have a spar with him, he is defeated and sent to jail. End of story. The only instance of blood in this game I can think of is when one character gets a nosebleed, but that is a comic relief scene and is not violent in any way. Drinking as portrayed in this game is viewed in a neutral light. Your in-game uncle is a drinker and a smoker but he is not abusive and in fact loves his daughter; however, he is too caught up in work to spend enough time with her, which sometimes causes arguments, though it is resolved happily in the end. And the infamous "King's Game" scene does NOT in fact feature underage drinking. The game explains this very clearly when one character notes that the establishment does not even serve alcohol. As for sexual references, they are definitely there, but in a game set in a high school what did you expect? There is no explicit nudity, though admittedly some female Personas are partially nude, but again nothing graphic is ever seen. The female cast is for the most part heroic and likable and is totally equal to the male cast, and there is little in terms of what you'd call "fanservice" except for certain events played for comic relief. The game deals with issues like homosexuality but it's largely subjective. The character dealing with that issue is not actually homosexual but was in reality struggling with what it means to himself to "be a man". The game's third dungeon is modeled after a strip club but there is no nudity, and the reason for the design is because of the insecurity in the heart of the character the place was born from. She is unsure of who she is as a person, which is made worse by the fact that she is a celebrity with multiple proverbial masks she dons for the public, and as such she feels she is letting the world treat her like an object instead of a person. There are other instances but they are mild, played for comic relief, and certainly not explicit. Finally, the only other thing I think parents should be aware of that absolutely none of the other reviews cover is some of the religious references. The Personas themselves are based on figures from popular mythologies the world over, and these include but are not limited to Ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, Japanese, Muslim and Christian. These range from angels and archangels from the Bible to demons from the same book, as well as good and evil divine figures from the other religions mentioned, each with their own blurb in the "Persona Compendium". None of these are portrayed as superior or inferior to others except in terms of level but again, it's an RPG. They are meant to balance each other out, and while the Personas you use don't have an effect on the outcome of the story the mythology is worth mentioning. To conclude this galumphing novel of a review, I say that what you think is appropriate for your kids is up to you, but I think most kids 14 and older should be okay with it. Most movies we have today are WAAAY worse than this game in terms of violence, swearing and sex. If your kids play Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, then you should have no problem with this one, and to those who are still on the fence about it there is plenty of gameplay footage of this game on YouTube. Check it out if it strikes your fancy.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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