I think we all knew what my game of the year would be, maybe because I haven’t shut up about Persona since February. There’s been a Persona game in almost every single one of my PlayTimes this year, and with multiple Persona games in the works this shows no sign of slowing.
So without further ado, my game of the year is Persona 4 Golden on Vita. It may surprise some people that my GOTY is a handheld title, but whilst it doesn’t bother me as handheld games can be just as good as home console games, I’ll definitely be picking up a Vita TV if they make their way to Europe. Playing P4G on the big screen would be a dream come true.
There are multiple reasons as to why P4G is my GOTY; the story, characters, music, art and everything else mesh so brilliantly together to create, in my eyes, the perfect game. Of course there are some niggling things but nothing that ever actually bothered me, even though they could probably bother other people.
I love murder mysteries and that’s exactly what P4G is. It’s about a group of students who realise they can enter the TV world – a world inside the TV – which a murderer has been using to kill their victims. Once in the TV world you’ll be confronted by your Shadow, a side of you that you’ve tried to keep repressed and, unless you’re willing to accept it, it’ll go berzerk and kill you. If defeated and accepted, it’ll become your Persona and fight with you in battle.
I found the cast to be hugely likeable, funny and relatable, with Social Links allowing you to build a strong relationship with each character and help them with their personal problems. Although I felt this way quite early on in the game, by the end of it, I felt very strongly attached to each character and, no matter which ending I received, I felt very bittersweet about having to say goodbye to them. So much so that I started the game again and got just as glued to it, if not more, than I had the first time. And to be clear, I got the True Ending each time, because I can’t accept it any other way!
P4G is a turn-based JRPG, my favourite genre of game, so we hit it off right from the start. I love the social interaction and being able to build relationships with characters and have part-time jobs, etc, and of course going inside the TV World. The TV World is where the action takes place, allowing you to battle against enemy Shadows, dungeon-crawl and search for items. If you’re brave enough, open up a special chest when you can hear rattling chains and you’ll be able to fight against The Reaper – death itself.
Social Links helps to make P4G really stand out, as not many games have such a dedicated, in-depth system of character development. It’s one of the only games where I’ve felt like the cast are my genuine friends. I tend to get emotionally involved and attached to many games, and P4G is no exception. It had me glued to the characters all the way through and onwards into it’s semi-sequel Persona 4 Arena, and upcoming games featuring the same colourful cast. It even spawned one of my favourite animes that I now own on Blu-ray – Persona 4 The Animation.
Originally being a PS2 game, P4G doesn’t have the best graphics, but they’re charming and certainly do the job, and I adore the 2D models used during conversations. I also love the art style and dungeon design, perfectly reflecting what’s in each character’s heart, because dungeons are based on their feelings. The visuals also make a normal rural town like Inaba come to life and, despite being a relatively boring town (according to the characters), I couldn’t help but fall in love with it and would always explore it as much as I could. In fact, I’m still exploring it now; and I will get the platinum!
Now, the music is something really special. I own the P4, P4G, P4A, P4 reincarnation/remix and the P4A remix CD’s and often listen to all of them. The music is an absolute delight to listen to and is so masterfully created. And I thought nobody would ever match Final Fantasy’s regular composer Nobuo Uematsu, but Shoji Meguru is equally as fantastic and wonderful.
Despite my use of the past tense when talking about P4G, I can say with complete certainty that this is an adventure that will stay with me forever; an adventure I’ll experience several times, and that will most likely never be dethroned, not only as my game of the year, but as my all-time favourite game. Although the amount of talking may not be for everybody, I do urge you to give it a try, as otherwise you’ll be missing out on something genuinely special. Something that you can relate to, something that brings you joy, and something that will remain with you no matter where you go (because it’s on Vita!).
It may be easy to dismiss my choice as fanboy drivel, but it completely and utterly deserves the praise I’m giving it. If you’ve ever experienced Persona 4 Golden, or are planning to, then I hope you have enjoyed or will enjoy it at least half as much as I do.