I’ve never been a closet fan so far as Atlus and their games are concerned. Last week, they released Persona 4: Dancing All Night stateside, and despite all of my devotion to the Persona series, I was a little wary. This was the second in a series of Persona games that were announced back in 2013 (the other two being the already released Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth and the now delayed Persona 5). It was the strange filling in an intriguing RPG sandwich, and a lot of people asked, myself included, what the Persona series was going to do with a rhythm game.
As of now, I’m pretty much a believer, having played through a majority of the story. It’s weird, it’s left of center- and it works.
P4D is not going to win the same place in players’ hearts like the core series, but it sticks to its guns outside of the dance sequences. The ‘Investigation Team’, as we’ve come to know them, are taking part in a festival as back-up dancers for Rise Kujikawa, otherwise known as pop-idol Risette. When pop-group Kanamin Kitchen disappears and rumors of a strange video on the festival’s website start to circulate, they learn about the Midnight Stage, a parallel to the Midnight Channel they dealt with when they first met. In their journey to save the other idols, they cannot fight due to the nature of the Midnight Stage. How else will they make their way?
By dancing, of course.
This sounds really cheesy, and at first, it feels shoehorned in to sell a rhythm game in a Persona colored jacket. The explanation provided for how this works, though, is right in line with the Persona universe. After all, dancing is one’s way of expressing one’s self, even if they aren’t the best dancer. The Persona gang still has struggles, though, and the idols bring a new dimension to the group’s dynamic.
As with any rhythm game, the music needs to be great, and the music has some great tracks to it. Thankfully, the remixes vary up the music more than it would have been straight out of Persona 4. “SNOWFLAKES (NARASAKI Remix)” and “Like a Dream Come True” have been stuck in my head for days, let alone the rest of the soundtrack.
Dancing uses three of the D-Pad buttons and three of the input buttons to mark along with the music. If you dance well enough, even using the joysticks to flick along with certain symbols, a partner will come out and join you for a fun and unique couples dance, which ranges from sincerely impressive to hilarious.
The only real issue with the game? It only came out on PSVita, which is great if you have that (or the Playstation TV), but means you’re out of luck otherwise. The art style is right in line with the original game, and the dancing in the game is realistic enough, another spot where the game sticks to Persona’s fantastic but grounded style.
Once I finish the game, I might have some other opinions and more to talk about, but for now, I’m highly impressed with what they managed with this game. Given how much Atlus has produced out of Persona 4- a fighting game, dungeon crawler, and now, a rhythm game- it felt like a shaky investment. After a very short time with the game, I can definitely recommend looking into it if you’re interested at all. I’ve probably spent as much time looking up videos as I have actually playing the game. My verdict on the game is that it is well worth the price of admission, despite how some of the trailers (the above included) may appear. Persona 4 may be running out of steam once Persona 5 comes out next year, but so long as games like this keep coming out, I feel like fans will be satisfied.
( Videos courtesy of Atlus USA’s YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/AtlusUSA )