I’ve got this new sort of addiction in my life. I’m not sure if there’s medical terminology for a full-obsession with a 6 year old game from two gens ago, but hey, I’ve got it apparently. After years of hearing about the excellence of Persona 4, I decided to finally give it a try on my PS Vita in the form of Persona 4 Golden, an updated version that is an almost perfect handheld experience.
So what makes this game so great? There are a number of things, not the least of which happens to be just how damn Japanese the whole thing is. For those that aren’t aware, P4G is an RPG that centers around a high school murder mystery. So, yeah. It’s different.
But what makes P4G really shine is the way it handles sidequests, time and dungeons through a brilliant weather mechanic that sort of ties them all together in a meaningful way. Part of the conceit of the murder mystery is that a new victim disappears on a rainy day. The victim will be killed on the first foggy day after that, which usually happens after several consecutive days of rain. After someone’s been kidnapped, you check the weather forecast, and you have until the next foggy day to save them. If there’s two weeks, then you get two weeks of game time until you have to travel to the alternate dimension (where the victim is trapped) and take on the dungeon.
In the meantime, the game plays out like Bully—go to class, hang out with friends, work odd jobs, study, and learn new skills, each one helping your stats for combat. When you do decide to go to the dungeon in the alternate dimension, you can hop out at any point—and teleport back to that spot when you’re ready to return. Getting tired of the dungeon, too weak or just want to head back to the real world? You’ll be totally fine, as long as you don’t let 2 weeks of game time pass between visits.
The design really is quite brilliant, and I’m surprised I haven’t seen more games try to emulate it since its release. There’s something to be said for playing an RPG that focuses on one small town, a well-defined area, and giving it tons of personality and things to do. As opposed to say, trying to make a ton of huge environments void of personality or any fun interaction.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this game, and I’m shocked by just how much the time management aspect (you only have SO much time to devote to friends, chores, jobs and school) is sucking me in. Have any of you guys played this game? What are some other old games that have surprised you? Go!