Social Links are a vital part of any Persona experience, and it’s no different in Persona 4 Golden. Hanging out with your friends and improving their Social Links not only provide great benefits in battle or Persona-fusing, but they are also a great distraction from the murder mystery in town. In fact, some of the Social Links are so good they almost deserve to have their own game! These are the Social Links in Persona 4 Golden that I personally thought were the most well-written.
Editor’s Note: This contains spoilers for some of the Social Links in Persona 4 Golden.
In the story proper, you see a lot of Yosuke’s good and bad qualities. He’s impulsive and a jerk, but he’s also smart and surprisingly good at being a secondary leader to Yu. Yosuke is definitely some kind of shift leader at Junes, even if we disregard the fact that he’s a bit of a nepo baby. However, his Social Link takes it a bit further. We get to see his struggles as the son of a major company that’s been pushing out the smaller businesses in Inaba. We get to see him coming to grip with his grief and self-loathing over Saki. Yosuke’s Social Link does a great job at letting us see what’s behind his mask, while still remaining true to the character he is in the main plot.
Now let us date him!
Unlike Yosuke, we do not see a lot of new depths to Yukiko in her Social Link. However, her Social Link is one that I feel a lot of people – especially youths – can relate to. Even though she starts it wanting to leave Inaba and the Amagi Inn behind, she comes to realize just how much she loves it and legitimately wants to succeed it. It’s not just something she feels like she has to do anymore. As a child, I thought that Yukiko’s Social Link was bad because she ends it the same way she starts it, but when I replayed Persona 4 Golden, I see that I was wrong. A character’s mental journey is just as important as a physical one.
I have to admit that a large part of me just likes Kanji so of course I’d like his Social Link. In the main plot, there are not a lot of scenes with just Kanji or Yu. A lot of the times, Kanji is comic relief through his stupidity, Yosuke’s jabs, or Rise’s teasing. So it’s actually refreshing to play his Social Link and see Kanji be a good but awkward boy who is trying so hard to change, and yet he’s not used to people accepting him for who he is. Kanji deserves so much. Best character, hands down.
Kou and Daisuke
The Fellow Athletes boys are so funny just because it literally does not matter which club you join. Even if you join basketball, you still hang out with Daisuke. Even if you join soccer, you still hang out with Kou. And these guys are in their own little sports anime, but in a positive way. Whether it was Kou’s family drama or Daisuke’s relationship drama, I was always so curious as to what would happen next.
Like with Yosuke, a large part of Naoki’s Social Link deals with his grief over Saki, as well as the way that others viewed him as a result of her death. It was such a well-written look at what follows in the wake of a personal tragedy, in both Naoki’s way of thinking and in the neighbors’ reactions to him. Like, I was legitimately surprised at how good the writing for Naoki’s Social Link is, especially when I compared it to some of the Social Links in other Persona games. His Social Link is one that I definitely recommend players maxing out if it’s their first time playing Persona 4.
Nanako just makes me so sad, and her Social Link is not any better. So many Social Links in 4 deal with grief and how to overcome it, and Nanako’s version of this theme is in a way that’s likely meant to tug at your heartstrings. It’s not exactly a happy ending, just because her Social Link does not entirely solve Dojima’s workaholic tendencies. But seeing the two of them finally learn how to communicate with and support each other in their shared grief was super nice. When I played Nanako’s Social Link as a kid, I straight up cried, and I got pretty damn close again in Golden.
As a kid playing Persona 4, I found Dojima’s Social Link very difficult to relate to and understand. He’s also so socially awkward, which I couldn’t understand. But now, I do. And now, he makes me emo. Though both his and Nanako’s Social Links deal with the same issue of Chisato’s death, Nanako’s felt a lot more satisfying to me with how it concludes. But the reason that Dojima’s Social Link is here is because I like how we never actually find out who killed Chisato. It would be so easy for him to arrest the culprit and find closure through that, but he makes his peace with it because of Nanako’s presence. It’s a really sweet Social Link, even if it’s the weakest of the ones I’ve listed here.
Like Dojima’s above, Eri’s Social Link was one that I straight up could not relate to or understand as a child. It’s certainly not a story that an average teenager would find gripping. Eri’s Social Link revolves around her loneliness away from her support circle, as well as her miscommunications with her stepson. The way that you could only watch her and Yuuta realize how much they care about each other had me visiting the daycare whenever I could.
There are so many other good Social Links in Persona 4 Golden. Rise’s is a really interesting one, though I found it hard to tell if I genuinely enjoyed it or if I just want her Silver Bangle. Ai’s was also fun once you got past her abrasive attitude and the forced truancy. However, I couldn’t tell if I actually liked Ai or if I couldn’t separate the anime version from the game. There’s something for everyone in the Persona 4 Golden Social Links if you open your heart (and schedule) for the citizens of Inaba.
Persona 4 Golden is readily available on the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Pass, Windows PC, and Nintendo Switch.