Persona 4 is 10 Years Old Today. Here's What Made It Great

Persona 4 is 10 Years Old Today. Here's What Made It Great

Persona 4 is a decade old, and it still has a lot to celebrate.

Happy 10th anniversary to Persona 4! On this day in 2008, the fourth entry in the popular Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series hit the PlayStation 2, and fans were immediately presented with a vital question: Who is the best girl? Let me answer that one in order of best to least-best (since all the girls are lovely, in my book): Yukiko, Naoto, Chie, and Rise.

Not that Persona 4 is strictly about flirting and dating and cheering on Kanji as he knits adorable little dolls, of course. The game's events center around a series of grisly murders occurring in a sleepy little town and have to get to the bottom of things with the help of your pals. It's all very serious and important until your drunken homeroom teacher vomits into the creek you're swimming in.

He's still warmer than my grade 10 science teacher.

Though 2006's Persona 3 garnered considerable Western attention, Persona 4's lively cast and stellar localization helped the series take a large step towards our mainstream culture—a journey it completed when 2017's Persona 5 became a million-seller. Persona 4 is very much Scooby-Doo meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it leans heavily into the themes of camaraderie both series offer. The protagonists of Persona 4 are a close-knit group, and their primary concern is solving the murder mystery plaguing their town. By contrast, Persona 5—and most Shin Megami games in general—throws the player into big problems with world-encompassing consequences early on.

It's weird to call Persona 4 a "cozy" game, but when I think back on my playthrough, I remember the good times I had hanging with Persona 4's affable cast more clearly than I remember fighting the demons seething in the TV World. My friends and I went camping, we ate terrible curry, and we trod the same road in the Japanese countryside day after day on our way to and from school. Yeah, bodies occasionally wound up hanging from TV antennae and my pals were forced to confront and accept the darkest corners of their psyche, but gosh, we had a good time! All that fun romping around even encouraged fans to produce some incredible tributes, like cartoonist Gigi D.G.'s irresistibly quotable Persona 4 comic parody ("Fsteak?").

If it's not obvious, reminiscing about Persona 4 is a bit like recalling "the good old days" as a Baby Boomer. It's easy to remember all the good things about the game while hand-waving its more troubling aspects, e.g. its disappointingly juvenile methods of exploring complicated questions about gender and sexuality. Less troubling but still worth mentioning are its rather straightforward dungeons: I find Persona 5's themed dungeons far more interesting to work through. Despite those bumps, we voted Persona 4 one of our 15 Best RPG Since 2000. I also played through 2012's Persona 4 The Golden on PS Vita for the Axe of the Blood God podcast, and Kat and I spent a lot of time discussing the game scenario by scenario. You should have a listen if you're any kind of Persona 4 fan.

Speaking of Persona 4 The Golden (which was my first foray into the Persona series), I had to exclude Marie from my opening list of best girls because she was an addition to the "upgraded" version of the game. I'll just say it here: Marie is the best Persona girl, period. You might disagree, but I have a mountain of angry goth poetry that indicates otherwise.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

Read this next

What Makes a Good RPG Romance? Axe of the Blood God Finds Out

With Fire Emblem: Three Houses now out, Axe of the Blood God takes a closer look at what makes good RPG romances.

Axe of the Blood God Presents: The 25 Best RPGs of All Time

From NetHack to The Witcher 3, we celebrate the greatest RPGs throughout gaming history.

What Do You Think Is the Best RPG Not Named Chrono Trigger?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | We have concluded our Top 25 RPGs countdown, at last! But what do you think should have been number one?

The Top 25 RPGs of All Time #9: Persona 4

Persona 5 came close, but you can't change our hearts on this one.

Persona 4 vs Persona 5: Which One Should be on our Top 25 RPG List? We Want Your Thoughts!

AXE OF THE BLOOD GOD | Nadia and I discuss which Persona game deserves to be in the #9 slot in the Top 25 RPG list, and we want your thoughts, too!

More Analyses

A Fresh Look at New Super Mario Bros. U on Switch: Does it Measure Up to the Classics?

Where does New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe rank alongside Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World?

The State of Destiny 2 After Forsaken: A Game That Can't Shake Its Troubles

Forsaken was a solid start, but it wasn't enough to pull everyone back.

Sorry Pokemon Fans, Your Gold-Plated Cards from Burger King Aren't Worth Squat

Burger King's Pokemon cards from 1999 look kind of nice and they're fun to remember, but they're barely worth the cost of a milkshake.

More on PlayStation 2

GTA 3 Cheats For PlayStation, Xbox and PC

Here’s every cheat code you’ll need for GTA 3.

Sly 2: Band of Thieves' Stellar Heists Still Can't Be Topped, 15 Years Later

Sly 2 turns 15, making us all feel very, very old.

Downhill Jam: The Game Industry Reflects on 20 Years of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater turns 20 in September, so we spoke to people across the industry who remember the series fondly.

What's Your Favorite Fighting Game of All-Time?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | Let's celebrate Evo 2019 by talking about our favorite fighting games.

GTA San Andreas Cheats Codes and Secrets

A GTA game is only as good as its cheats, right? We’ve got all the GTA San Andreas cheats, from tanks, to jetpacks and beyond. PC Cheats, Xbox One Cheats, PS4 Cheats, Xbox 360 Cheats, PS3 Cheats, Mobile, iOS, Android

GTA Vice City Cheats - All PlayStation, PC and Xbox Cheats For Vice City

We’ve got all the GTA Vice City cheats, from tanks to weapons and beyond. PC Cheats, PS4 Cheats, PS3 Cheats, Xbox, Mobile, iOS, Android.

Metal Gear Solid 2's Commentary On America On The Brink Resonates Just As Strong Today

An essay on Metal Gear Solid 2, from the new book collection of Metal Gear Solid essays called Okay, Hero.