Persona 4 Golden - Switch Review
"This port is so close to perfection."
I’m going to start this review off with a warning; if you are looking for a non-biased take on Persona 4 Golden, then you’re in the wrong place. If you’re looking for a more knowledgeable take on what the Nintendo Switch port does differently, then this is the review for you. Persona 4 Golden is my favourite game of all time and I know it inside and out. I could talk about this game for hours, but I’m stuck with a set word limit here for these reviews so I’ll try and keep this short.
First off, let’s start with a unique feature that the original release and the PC port doesn’t have. Persona 4 Golden has finally added a quicksave function that can be used anywhere. No longer will a random crit lead to you losing hours of progress in dungeons, though this does mean that there are no longer save points in front of boss rooms, so that may take some time to get used to for some. Personally, I’m used to it since they weren’t there in the original release of Persona 4 on the Playstation 2.
The satisfying core combat that the Persona franchise is known for is still here. Exploit enemy weaknesses, knock them down, then have your party bully and kick them while they’re down. I know a lot of people who have gotten into the franchise from Persona 5’s success may find the combat a little strange without features like the Baton Pass or the negotiations but honestly, Persona 4 Golden doesn’t need them.
The second pillar of the core Persona gameplay is here and at its best, the time management. Every aspect of it is used and is necessary at some point in the game (seriously, how many of you actually went to the batting cages, washed your clothes or spent time at the confessional in Persona 5?). You bet you’re going to need to catch bugs and learn how to fish if you want to complete the Hermit Social Link.
Speaking of Social Links, they are a fantastic way to break up the gameplay and also shows off the stellar writing that the series is known for. Help a friend grieve a woman he loved but didn’t love him back, show a street punk that it’s ok to be soft sometimes, and help a woman who is constantly looked down upon in a male dominated workplace find pride in her intelligence and her femininity. Persona 4 Golden is where the Persona writing team is at its strongest.
- Quicksaves have finally been added
- Solid core combat system
- Time management mechanics are used to the fullest
- Persona’s writing at its best
When Persona 4 Golden was released on PC back in 2020, it had a few bugs which prevented some social links to progress properly. While this was patched out later, it seems the Nintendo Switch port still has this bug but for other social links that weren’t affected by the original bug. Some NPCs wouldn’t give me items I needed to progress some social links, the worst being the woman at the shrine who gives you the bug catching net. Not only was I locked out of catching bugs, but that also means I was locked out of the quest chain necessary to finish the final part of the Hermit Social Link.
This one is a little weird because I can’t tell if this is a change with the new port or I was just stupidly lucky. Most RPGs typically have an enemy that grants a lot of EXP or money when defeated and Persona 4 Golden is no exception with their Golden Hand enemies. They typically have a low but not too low spawn rate, so you’ll most likely encounter one or two in every dungeon. I found at least one on every floor on every dungeon; this led to the experience spread being widely skewed. I was nearly at max level two thirds through the game.
Persona 4 Golden has a unique mechanic called Shuffle Time. After a fight, there is a chance that you will get a choice of a handful of bonuses, such as a small health/SP recovery, more money or an increase to one of your Persona’s stats by one. You can also find negative bonuses that, when picked, will allow you to pick more bonuses and if you use this to pick every bonus that is offered, another Shuffle Time is guaranteed at the end of the next fight and you get to pick three bonuses instead of one. This mechanic is very easy to exploit and can completely destroy the difficulty curve. If you’re playing the game the intended way and constantly using new personas, you won’t notice it that much but if you do what I did and stuck with your starting Persona Izanagi, all of those bonuses will funnel into him and will make the game significantly easier than playing the game how it’s intended. Combine this with the issues from the last paragraph and I essentially picked up the game’s difficulty by the scruff and threw it off a cliff.
- Some social links have progression bugs
- Golden Hands spawn too often and break the experience curve
- Shuffle Time is still easily exploitable
Final Score: 9/10
In my incredibly biassed opinion, Persona 4 Golden is the best the franchise has ever been and this port is so close to perfection. Outside of the bugged social links which will most likely be patched, my only negatives are just ways the game makes it easier for the player and hey, some people may find that more of a positive than a negative. If you’ve never gotten to play the phenomenon that is Persona 4 Golden or are one of the newer fans that started with Persona 5, now is the best time to jump in and lose yourselves in the small cosy town of Inaba.
Thank you for checking out our Persona 4 Golden Switch review, thank you to SEGA (via Five Star Games) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
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