Port Patrol – Persona 4 Golden PC is Atlus’s most barebones port yet… and it’s still amazing

Atlus is well known for its incredible ports. Every time they port one of their games to a new platform it usually comes with a ton of extra content.

Unfortunately, Persona 4 Golden on PC is not one of those ports. This is a pretty barebones conversion from the Vita version. Considering that, it says something about the game’s original quality that it became the JRPG with the highest ever concurrent players on Steam in its first day of release.

How does the original hold up?

We may have forgotten since Persona 5 is all the rage right now, but Persona 4 was a ludicrously successful RPG. It spawned a fighting game, a dancing game, a dungeon crawler, and much more. It took Persona from an obscure Atlus RPG line to a multi-platform, multi-genre mega-franchise. You don’t get to do that without being quality.

And now, having played the game again after so many years, I can honestly say that quality holds up. Persona 4 is filled with likable characters, a compelling murder mystery plot, and the deep and intricate combination of social and dungeon-crawling RPG gameplay that Persona is known for.

If Persona 5 was your first exposure to the series, let me give you a quick summary of Persona 4. You have just moved to the small little town of Inaba. Unfortunately, this town is being plagued by a string of strange murders every time it rains. You and your friends eventually find a strange cognitive world that you can enter through TV screens. You find out that the murderer is using this cognitive world to commit his crimes, and it’s up to you and your friends to solve the case while simultaneously living out their high school lives.

So, yes, it’s a lot like Persona 5 and every other Persona game since 3. The dungeons are all randomly generated (like Mementos for anyone who started with Persona 5) but they all are themed based on the inner hidden desires of a major character, and they have bosses themed around that as well. Yes, there are long sequences of dialogue, and, in fact, just like Persona 5, it takes about three hours of plot at the beginning of Persona 4 to get to the main gameplay loop. But if you can buckle in for a long ride, you’ll find a good 80-100 hours of gameplay here.

What’s new?

To be honest, not a whole lot. The game had gotten a graphical overhaul, but it’s not nearly as in-depth as other Atlus remakes. The graphics absolutely show their age. Remember, Persona 4 was originally a Playstation 2 game. It was then ported to the Vita in Golden, and at that point, its graphics already looked dated. Yes, the game runs in a smooth 60FPS and all of the textures have been redone in HD, but even that doesn’t do much to help the game’s presentation. Oh, it looks gorgeous, but it looks gorgeous for 10+ years ago, not gorgeous by today’s standards.

The one major failing of this port is the way it handles its text boxes. Text and menus are converted directly from the Vita version, which was a handheld if you remember. That means that all the text in the game is HUGE! It frequently covers up all the action on the screen. The text in the original PS2 version wasn’t nearly this big.

For the most part, this is a 1:1 Vita to PC port, but there are a few extras worth noting. For one, the game comes with a full Japanese voice track. Two, it supports keyboard and mouse controls surprisingly well. You can play in higher framerates than 60FPS if you are that sort of power gamer, and of course, you can play the whole game in 16:9 widescreen. The Steam version has the support for achievements and trading cards. Finally, you can customize your difficulty, allowing you to play the game exactly in the way you like.

That being said, if you only ever played the PS2 version, then this game is new to you. It comes with a new character, more Personas, more story content, new animated cutscenes, two new social links, and much more. This was 2012’s Persona 5 Royal.

Should you get it?

Anyone who missed the original Persona 4

Absolutely. Persona 4 is considered one of the best Persona games ever, even better than Persona 5 by some fans. While the graphics are showing their age, the gameplay is still amazing. This is well worth dropping 100 hours of your life into.

Anyone who played the original but missed Golden

Definitely. Golden adds so much it’s going to feel like an entirely new game to you.

Anyone who played both the original and Golden

Maybe. Its budget price of $20 does make it an enticing deal if you simply want to play Persona 4 Golden again on the big screen. However, if your Vita is still working and you still have Persona 4 Golden on it, you aren’t really getting much more in the PC version that you wouldn’t be getting in your perfectly good Vita version. Twenty bucks might be worth picking it up just for archival purposes, but you just aren’t getting much extra here.

Anyone who hasn’t played a Persona game in their life

Maybe. Persona 4 is a great gateway to Persona games, but the age of this title is definitely showing. If you really want to get into the series, I’d say start with Persona 5 and then come back here when you are done. However, if you don’t have a PS4 and this is your only option, it’s a good enough starting point