Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Common Sense Media says

A fascinating, but dark mature RPG full of horror & sadness.





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.

Parents say

Kids say

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 (PlayStation 2)

This review of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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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, okay 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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Kid, 9 years old January 23, 2009

I don't recommend this for any adult! This game should not be played!

This game is hard, even for an adult.
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?
Teen, 16 years old Written bySuperfluousPsyon April 30, 2011

Unique and Amazing Anime-Inspired Adventure

Really, deciding if you're kids can play this game all comes down to their personal tastes. I think it's a really interesting game but most early teens may find it boring or may not be able to deal with the darker themes. None of the previous games in the series have to have been played to understand the story, as the games are mostly unrelated. The game revolves around a serial murder case in a small Japanese town, and it's up to the player to find out who's doing it and stop them. This is really the largest source of violence in the game, as the actual combat isn't too gory. The player interacts with many students in their school and other people in the town (and a mysterious fox?!?), and gains social links to power up their "personas", the means of combat in the game. You can have romantic relationships with multiple girls, and there is little consequence to it. However, this is more of a gameplay contrivance than anything else, because to understand all the characters you must complete their social links, which with the girls is a relationship. There is a fair amount of innuendo and sex jokes, but no nudity and honestly nothing that wouldn't go on at a normal high school anyway. The same goes with the language, as it isn't as bad as most other M-rated games (i.e. no f-bombs). In one scene the characters(who are underage) do drink alcohol, and some items' names could be interpreted as drug-related. It should also be noted that most characters are flawed and through working together the player helps them become stronger, which is why it has good role models. Two characters both struggle with their sexuality, so younger players may be confused and not understand some of the discussions. All these are things mature teens should be able to handle. Gameplay wise, Persona 4 is like a combination of Pokemon, a dungeon crawler, and traditional JRPGS. It is not easy to play for newcomers, but if you've played games such as Chrono Trigger or the Final Fantasy Series it shouldn't be too hard. What makes the combat unique is that players collect personas, each with their own unique stats, abilities, and weaknesses, and can use them to fight or fuse them to create more powerful ones. It can be overwhelming at first, but the game does a fairly good job of easing you into it and explaining what to do. If a player is struggling, they can always "grind" and go back to previous areas to fight enemies and become stronger. All in all, I don't think I could ever write everything there is to say about this game. The bottom line is that it has a great story, interesting characters, unique gameplay, and a long-lasting adventure that any mature gamer can enjoy. Now hurry up and announce Persona 5 Atlus!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


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