The Persona series has some of the most unique JRPG titles in gaming history. Fusing classic turn-based combat with gripping stories, likeable characters and social simulation, the Persona games are worth checking out if you love Japanese RPGs. If you picked up on all this hype and decided to give Persona 5 Royal a shot, you likely have fallen in love and are now wondering what you should play next.
P5R’s predecessor, Persona 4 Golden, released recently on Steam (also available on Vita if you’ve got one handy) and it’s absolutely worth a playthrough. All of the trappings you enjoyed about Persona 5 are there, albeit with some differences.
Need more details to convince you? Then in this post, we’ve laid out all the reasons why you should play Persona 4 Golden after Persona 5 Royal.
Down-to-Earth Story and Setting
Persona 5’s story is grandiose, large-scale and quite dark. A group of teenage anti-heroes form a shadowy group that infiltrates the psyches of evildoers in a bid to get them to confess their heinous acts. The story starts out small but quickly increases in scale as bigger and more influential villains are encountered. With Tokyo being the setting, the Phantom Thieves’ impact also feels a lot larger in scope.
Persona 4 Golden, however, is more down-to-earth in tone and narrower in scope. The story takes place in the fictional small town of Inaba. The events of the game are mostly isolated in that specific region, affecting the town’s people and the ragtag group of the Investigation Team. Their efforts are primarily aimed at dishing out justice to those who deserve it rather than placing an emphasis on saving lives as P5R does. This makes P4G a completely different story experience.
Procedurally Generated Dungeons
If Persona 5 was your first point of entry into the series, you can be forgiven for not knowing that the series originally had procedurally generated dungeons. Where P5R chooses to have lavishly and intricately built static dungeons, P4G has procedurally generated floors that trade flair for random encounters with only a few floors being static to allow for puzzles. The biggest advantage is that if you choose to play the game in New Game+, then your experience will feel completely different. Random dungeons also encourage you to go into them prepared and also allow you to clear them in one go. Persona 5’s dungeons, on the other hand, force you out of dungeons due to the story.
Persona 5 Royal is a beefy game with lots of cutscenes, side-quests, Confidant levelling and lengthy dungeons. This all takes the game way beyond the realm of the 100-hour playthrough. P4G’s campaign, though, is a bit over half that, clocking in at roughly 70 hours. This is particularly intriguing if you found Persona 5 a bit heavy on the padding and dialogue fluff. That isn’t to say that P4G lacks substance, however. Instead, the shorter clear time makes the story feel tighter and the game’s story pacing more suspenseful.
Both Persona 5 Royal and Persona 4 Golden have some of the best written and most complex characters in any modern JRPG. What makes them particularly engaging is how you, the player, embody the role of the MC and build relationships with them. You learn about their pasts, their likes, their motivations, and you help them push through their hardships and form bonds with them. Either title does this superbly with P4G managing to be slightly more nuanced when it comes to the relationships between the characters and not just the MC.
While you can tell that the Phantom Thieves have a bond as a team, it’s not always obvious why the crew would be friends without the MC around. Ryuji and Ann clearly know each other from a few dialogue points but that’s about it. The relationships are built up as you play the game and are mostly implied rather than explicitly explored. P4G, on the other hand, has that small-town feel to it where people know each other and their relationships are more obvious. Both the story and the Confidant events give time for everyone’s connections with each other to be in the spotlight.
Persona 5 Royal and Persona 4 Golden are both superb games that are ultimately different in several respects. The aim isn’t to make one look inferior to the other but rather to highlight why the preceding game is worth experiencing for its own intricacies. Plus, playing P4G will give you some more context when it comes to all the memes involving its cast.