How Is The Persona 4 Golden PC Port? It's Bear-y Good
Between the convenience of PC, upgraded visuals, high frame rate, and Japanese VO option, P4G on Steam is a wonderful surprise.
I know it was a big ask, but do you know how hard it was to convince folks to find a PlayStation Vita, actually purchase a dead platform for one game, then get them to stick with the 80- to 100-hour journey? Now I only really have to worry about that last step.
For too long Persona 4 Golden was beholden to the PS Vita (a fine piece of hardware, though). But with the game now on Steam, not only does this mark the PC debut of Atlus' beloved RPG series, it also comes as a quality port itself. Between the enhanced graphics options, high frame rate, unlocked New Game Plus difficulty features, and the inclusion of Persona 4's Japanese voice-overs, there's never been a better time to play one of the RPG greats.
From a technical standpoint, P4G looks and runs better on PC than it ever has. That's not a very high bar to clear since this is a port of an eight-year-old remaster of a 12-year old PS2 game, after all. But with a handful of graphics options, you can get more visual detail than previous versions. Specifically, the support for native 4K/1440p/1080p resolutions, anti-aliasing, and anisotropic filtering clean up image quality significantly. There are also options to turn shadows (not the enemies) on or off and control their overall quality. Ultrawide users make up a small audience, but note that this port does not support aspect ratios beyond 16:9, so you won't get to put that extra screen space to use--it's okay, really.
Although not explicitly stated in the options, P4G properly supports 60 FPS, and higher frame rates if you turn off V-Sync. It doesn't necessarily provide any advantage in a social sim/turn-based RPG, but seeing battle animations--particularly Chie's roundhouse kicks and bouncy footwork--in such fluid motion offers a visual experience not possible with previous iterations of the game.
Another welcome feature of the P4G PC port is that it includes the game's customizable difficulty options right off the bat. These were previously locked behind New Game Plus, but now you can tweak the amount of XP you gain, the amount of money you earn, how death and retries work, and the level of damage dealt and taken during combat. Playing on Very Easy or Easy were always available for those who might have trouble with the game's challenges, but these options put you in control of where you want to find challenge and even cut down on any potential level or money grinding.
What I would deem the biggest addition that's exclusive to the PC port of P4G is the inclusion of the Japanese voice-overs. Western versions of all the Persona games prior to Persona 5 only featured English VO, so this is the first time the West can play through Persona 4 using the Japanese audio with subtitles. Personally, I've grown attached to the English cast as they're the voices for my original experience that got me to fall in love with Persona 4--especially Golden's change to Erin Fitzgerald as Chie. However, the option is there and can provide an all-new light to the game, and the Japanese cast puts up great performances themselves.
Of course, with this being originally a console game, there is controller support. You can even customize the control scheme down to individual buttons. Whether you use an Xbox gamepad, PlayStation DualShock controller, or even a Nintendo Switch Pro controller, the button prompts will reflect your input device properly. If you wish to stick with keyboard and mouse, you'll still have control over button mappings for all in-game actions--it's certainly not the preferred way to play since directional movement can be awkward, but it works.
Lastly, Persona 4 Golden is just an overall lovely game. For only $20 on Steam (or $25 for the deluxe bundle), you can experience why many of us hold it in such high regard. Like its predecessor Persona 3 and successor Persona 5, P4G delivers the series' tremendous balance of social simulation and RPG exploration and combat. It centers around the growth of its characters, and their development draws you into their stories while the power of friendship manifests as strength in battle. The soundtrack of absolute J-pop and J-rock bangers will make the journey all the more memorable, too. Admittedly, the game will show its age as it tries to incorporate LGBTQ themes and ultimately fumble them at key moments--it's something to keep in mind and be critical of when playing P4G.
This PC port doesn't simply make one of the greatest RPGs (or games for that matter) much more accessible, but the refinements also make it the best version of the game. Don't get me wrong, the Vita version doesn't have any real technical shortcomings and the portable nature made the length of P4G a bit more digestible. However, it's now open to a much wider audience who just might find their new favorite game.
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