Initially released in Europe on March 13, 2009 on PlayStation 2, a console already replaced more than two years ago by its little sister, Persona 4 returned in February 2013 on PS Vita in a subtitled version Golden. Extremely well received by French-speaking critics, who only blame it for the lack of translation from English, the title is a small success, even outside of Japan, which it perhaps owes to its accumulation of supports. . The license from which it comes, Shin Megami Tensei, yet remaining very niche here. At least until the arrival of personas 5 in 2017, a real phenomenon that shed a lot of light on Atlus and its productions.
Seven long years after its release on the late PS Vita, Persona 4 Golden offered a Steam version. Fans’ hopes of finally seeing a version officially translated into French unfortunately quickly died out when they discovered that it was a port in the strict sense. A small community then took its courage and its dictionary in both hands. The result is a free, unofficial update, of a quality rarely achieved for productions of this kind. And that’s pretty good, because it’s available at the launch of the PS5, Xbox Series and Switch versions of the game, downloadable from this Thursday, January 19, and displayed at less than twenty euros.
It is on the Nintendo Switch version that we will focus today, although all console editions are, a priori, identical. The opportunity, mainly, to report on this long-awaited translation, but also on the quality of this new port. No review per se, then, but if that’s what you’re looking for, then of course we refer you to our very comprehensive Steam version review. For the others, here is yet another article extolling the merits of a nearly fourteen-year-old game, which continues to be talked about and its indecent quality. Follow the guide !
Testing conditions: We spent nearly fifty hours on the Nintendo Switch version, mostly in handheld mode on the Lite model. This test is guaranteed without spoiler, which is valid for the various screenshots, all captured during the first part of the game (less than ten hours on the clock).
Back to Inaba
In Persona 4, you play as a high school student whose gender it is neither possible to choose nor to determine his appearance. A crucial point since, as you will no doubt have noticed, this relatively stoic character is present on the cover of the game. determine the answers and gestures regularly, to dwell on his peregrinations.
Because by embodying this semi-mute character, you will face many surprising, supernatural, miraculous, and sometimes catastrophic events. Sent to the small town of Inaba, where he will stay with his uncle, a somewhat boorish policeman, this young hero will quickly face the harsh reality. A murderer is visibly rampant in the area, initially attacking a young woman, found hanging in the middle of the street, in plain sight.
First point that surprises when you launch the game for the first time, since its very colorful visuals and its eye-pleasing character design do not seem to intend it to tell us such a dark story. However, we will have to get used to it. Behind his apparent sentimentality, the title of Atlus actually hides a captivating plot, intelligently written, touching pell-mell to stories of sexuality, murder, and vices of all kinds. The saga Shin Megami Tensei is known for her writing maturity, and Persona 4 is no exception.
A chance that the French translation is IM-PE-CCABLE. And I weigh my words ! Those who have touched the game in its English version, no doubt remember the quality of this localization, which very rarely caught on, on stupid cultural differences, points difficult to transcribe in a language other than Japanese. However, this French version seems to have been reviewed and corrected, since no small problem of this kind is pointing the nose.
Which is a great thing, knowing that Persona 4 Golden is a very dense, but also particularly talkative J-RPG (often described as a visual novel), with a lifespan that may seem insurmountable to laymen. Count between sixty and eighty hours to see the end of it in a straight line. Thus, it is pleasant to note that the various puns, not necessarily easy to understand in the language of Shakespeare for any normally constituted French speaker, are translated here in a beautiful way, and make perfect sense.
But also that all the dialogues seem to have benefited from an irreproachable treatment, to the point that even the appearance of slang makes sense, and is never a source of discomfort for the player. On the contrary, it contributes to the immersion and appreciation of the different protagonists, to whom it is difficult not to become attached. Because in addition to being well written, Persona 4 deconstructs several character archetypes, playing on their vices and facade personalities, turning out to be much deeper than expected.
Persona 4 is like good wine, minus the drunkenness
Of course, even if one can hardly do worse than Persona 3 Portable at this level (we refer you to our test already available), it may still be a bit complicated to launch Persona 4 Golden after returning Persona 5 Royal in all directions. The two games have a lot in common, starting with their love for rich dialogue, but it’s obvious that the eight long years between their respective releases (in Japan) give the newer some advantages.
That being so, it must be recognized that Persona 4 Golden still works very well in 2023. After discovering its very small town, clearly lacking in life, and its random dungeons which are sometimes difficult to see, there remains a certain charm specific to this opus. Any fan of old-school J-RPGs will quickly find their feet in its simple, yet bewilderingly rich gameplay mechanics. And for the others, the game does everything to make the learning curve very smoothwith, if necessary, a simple glance at the assigned menu for an effective reminder.
Persona 4 Golden has never been so accessible, the translation obviously providing immense comfort compared to previous versions of the game. This is all the more true when we see the return of the “wifi” function, allowing you to request help other players in dungeons, or the appearance of different difficulty modes, from easy to hard. A rich idea, which hardly seems to distort the experience, the normal mode remaining of course similar to what the original title offered in terms of challenge (namely something quite sustained, it must be recognized).
Last novelty to enter the track, the quick save is just as important in this appreciation of the comfort of this vintage 2023. It must be said that, if the first hours of play oppose little resistance, it will be necessary to quickly arm oneself effectively and think strategically each fight, which remains very time-consuming.
But the dungeons are increasingly long and tortuous, which requires an exponentially thoughtful organization. A short break, without having to end the day (which wastes time in the game) is not refused. Especially since a timer, determined by the weather, imposes a set number of days before the game over on each appearance of a new dungeon.
Next to that, Persona 4 Golden retains the contributions of the Steam version of 2020, namely a slightly improved visual (as well as a 4K function on compatible machines) and the possibility of choosing between Japanese or English dubs. The latter being the only ones available on the PS2 edition that we had in Europe, as well as on the PS Vita cartridge. An injustice that it is good to see disappear at the same time as the long-awaited French translation appears. As for the soundtrack, it is still exceptional, period!
Finally, remember that we tested the game on Nintendo Switch, which contributed to the positive feeling left by this second discovery. Because it must be recognized, the portability of this version immediately gives it a huge advantage over its friends. let’s remember that Persona 4 Golden is very long, and the standby function of the Big N console thus allows you to start and stop your game at any time, without having to worry about saving, at least as long as the battery does not run out. What better way to discover such a dense J-RPG?
Hard to say otherwise, but pass next to Persona 4 Golden in 2023 would be criminal if you enjoy a minimum of Japanese role-playing. It must be said that this episode has taken some wrinkles, especially when compared to its successor obviously, but nothing insurmountable. It remains a true classic of the genre, which mixes intelligent and intelligently brought subjects, devilishly endearing characters, a soundtrack so good that it stays in the head, and incredible depth coupled with a lifespan that makes you dizzy.
And if these arguments still fail to convince you, then stay the excellent French translation, and the Japanese dubs which will please the purists. Or of course, because it has to be quoted, its very attractive price, set at less than twenty euros. We can pester as much as we want about the lack of a physical release, but let’s be honest: this version is a real gift offered to fans of the license, and to those who would like to discover it in the best conditions! You know what you have left to do.