By ROBERT LOUIS TURNER III, Guest Writer
Persona 4 is about solving a mystery and the social issues of a small town. This is a role playing game released in 2008 for the PlayStation 2 and in 2012 for the PlayStation Vita. It is part of a larger series, the “Shin Megami Tensei” series from Atlus and Index Corporation. This entry of the series is concerned with truth. The premise is that you, the main character, move to a small country town from the big city to move in with your uncle. Once you move there, a series of murders drags you and your new friends into a situation where you’re the only ones who can solve this mystery. Much of the game evokes thoughts of Scooby-Doo and The Hardy Boys, but the potent social commentary introduced in “Social Links” and throughout the story will keep you playing. One of the more potent dialogues within the game concern the issues that most of the town has with their local “Junes” (a store much like Wal-Mart) and the fact that it’s shutting down small businesses in their shopping district.
The unique feature of this game and its direct predecessor is the Social Link system. Your character’s growth, both literal in the form of benefits to the fighting you’ll do in the dungeon portions of the game, and figurative in the form of emotional character development, is handled through this mechanic. A social link is increased in rank from spending time in-game with people, and the game itself adheres to a real calendar. This makes anyone playing the game feel much more invested in the story of the game itself. The game world itself is very well developed and no prior knowledge of the series is needed to enjoy this title.
Persona 4 was well-received on its release to the PS2 by critics and consumers alike. With a score of 90 on Metacritic.com, the original release was surpassed in quality by the PlayStation Vita remake released just this last November, titled Persona 4: Golden, which has a score of 93. If you have a choice between the two, there are some differences in voice actors but the Vita version edges out the original in terms of quality. The Vita edition also has some online features that are very helpful for players new to the series. If you’ve overlooked this game for any reason, take another look. With an animated cartoon based off of it, a sequel in the form of a fighting game, and a remake with good sales, there is a lot of support for this story if you should like it. In addition, since the original release was on PlayStation 2, you should be able to find a copy cheap if you’re interested.