Two of the greatest Japanese role-playing games ever made have finally arrived on modern high definition gaming systems as Atlus brought Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One (and , in the case of Portable, PC). While it’s easy to be intimidated by their length – both are over 60 hours each – they still offer two of the best experiences of their kind and are well worth the investment.
Fortunately, these classics haven’t been altered too much, as Atlus has instead focused on adding solid quality of life improvements instead of overhauling everything. For example, players can switch between any of the five difficulty levels at any time, which was not a luxury in previous versions. It’s great because there are some tricky boss fights that can be quite difficult without being at the right level or having the right characters. There’s also the ability to quickly save at any time in a dungeon rather than having to reach a designated save point, reducing the stress that save points often bring and the annoyance associated with finding one. Players can even now re-watch social bonding moments in Golden via a photo album, a nice touch for those who want to relive those moments in a more convenient way.
Even though both have been slightly modernized, new players should, as backward as it sounds, check out Persona 4 Golden first. A remastered version of the PS2 hit, it features one of the most memorable character casts in any game, a highly satisfying combat system, and a story revolving around a dark murder mystery in a small Japanese town. While the opening hours start off a little slow, the world and character building all pay off once players travel to its Ghost World, where players will battle all manner of demons while solving the supernatural case.
Regardless of the starting position, however, both are fantastic games as they take the time to flesh out their characters in ways that are still impressive today. Using a calendar system, both allow players to choose how they want to spend their downtime in the world. Whether it’s taking on a part-time job to earn more money and flesh out one’s own abilities or grinding in a dungeon, it gives a great amount of choice and variety to every person’s game.
The most rewarding aspect, however, is spending time with party members and developing friendships with them. Each character has a social bond that can be upgraded, which rewards players with new combat abilities and stories for each character. During the many dating sessions that are sometimes compartmentalized between your own social abilities (such as how much kindness or courage you’ve developed), you’ll come to know and care about the characters on a new level. You can even start a romantic relationship with that special someone if you want (or even more so if you’re a two-stroke freak).
It’s almost impossible not to grow and love these characters through the twists and turns of the story. While there are other games that rival its length, like recent entries in Assassin’s Creed and other RPGs, they’re often bloated with uneventful side quests and characters that don’t experience a significant change in their character. own story arc. What’s really special about recent Persona titles is that each cast member has time to grow and there’s little fluff despite the length – it’s long because there’s a lot of fluff. story to tell rather than just being padded to keep players engaged in its ecosystem for longer. Even moments that seem inconsequential to the main story, like a school trip to class, lead to a shift in character dynamics and meaningful moments.
Even Persona 3 Portable, the oldest of the three modern Persona entries that are now playable on all modern systems, has aged gracefully. The story is a bit wilder than the more grounded tales of Persona 4 and 5, as there are sci-fi elements, such as androids, and high stakes, global threats. Despite these twists, its darker themes still resonate today, and Portable is refining its gameplay and features to more closely resemble Persona 4, so it won’t feel like a step backwards in any way.
This applies to each of these ports and they all feel varied and different enough that it never feels like a retread of the same ideas. The weather has also been kind to these entries, as they stand out enough from each other and from the gaming scene as a whole. The little tweaks made here have only cemented them among the best RPGs of all time and made them more convenient to play.
Disclosure: The publisher provided PlayStation 4 copies for our Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden feature. Played on version 1.00.
Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are still must-have JRPGs | Pretty Reel