I’ve long since been a Persona 4 stan. Out of the three modern Persona games, P4 has always stood out to me as the best of the bunch. You’ve got a killer cast, a great story, and a timeless soundtrack through and through. And while, yes, Persona 5 may look a lot prettier and flashier than its slightly outdated-looking predecessor, I’d play P4 over P5 any day of the week.
Which is why I think it’s an absolute crime that with the release of Persona 3 Reload, Persona 4 is now officially the ugliest new-school game in the series.
I’ve spent the past couple weeks binging Persona 3 Reload, and it’s a fantastic remake of the original PS2 release. It’s a full remake done in the Persona 5 engine, with new character models, artwork, and even plenty of new combat mechanics to make things more streamlined and frictionless. Little things like the Baton Pass system, new side stories with teammates who didn’t get Social Links before, and improved Analysis for Fuuka just make Persona 3 feel so much more modern.
Most importantly, the game just looks good now. Gone are the cursors from Persona 3 Portable and tiny human figures from FES. The full-sized models and redone environments make Tatsumi Port Island pop, and everything looks fresh and vibrant. And I’m here to tell you that Persona 4 Golden needs that treatment too.
When it first released on the PS2, Persona 4 was seen as a big step-up from Persona 3. The characters and Social Links were better, there were more activities, and it was clear that Atlus had really started to hit its stride with this entry. Since then, it’s gotten a re-release on the PS Vita (goodnight, sweet prince) with a brand new dungeon, ending, character, and a bunch of new events that really elevated the game to the next level.
In its current state, Persona 4 Golden is near-perfect. The stories, characters, and activities are all great. It just got its re-release at the wrong time. In a post-Switch era and in a world where Persona 3 Reload is now a thing, the graphical potential for a Persona 4 remake has gone way up. Imagine exploring Inaba in a proper, free 3D environment.
More importantly, imagine enjoying Persona 4’s gameplay with an updated combat system akin to that of P3 and P5’s. Persona 3 Reload incorporates a more basic form of Persona 5’s Baton Pass system, along with Light and Dark elemental types, and these are elements that would work well in P4, too.
Persona 4 Golden also has so many more interesting environments within Inaba and the Shadow World that would look stunning with a graphical remake, I’m practically salivating just thinking about the possibility. The dungeons alone would be a visual treat, with Heaven and the Secret Lab coming to mind as big standouts.
The problem, of course, is that Persona 4 Golden is already a very solid game in its own right. Even without a graphical facelift and the extra bells and whistles, Persona 4 Golden still holds up incredibly well today, which you couldn’t really say for Persona 3 FES or Portable. But look, surely there’s a case to be made for the game that properly put the series on the map. If P3 served as the blueprint for the new-school Persona games that we know and love today, then P4 is the culmination of the efforts and lessons learned from its predecessor.
Persona 4 Golden boasts the strongest cast of characters and Social Links we’ve seen in the series, not to mention a tantalizing murder mystery that sprinkles its clues right from the very start. The story comes with its peaks and valleys that always keep you guessing and wanting to find out what the next hint is, and neither P3 or P5 have been able match the level of writing that we get in 4.
So, is it highly unlikely that we’ll ever see another proper remake of Persona 4? Probably. Is that going to stop me from hoping in vain and writing this open plea to Atlus? Absolutely not.
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