Aesthetically pleasing, mechanically adequate.
by Randy Marr
It starts with a rumor. Then people go missing. Now it’s up to Yu Narukami and his friends to take the center stage and solve the mysterious incidents happening just before Rise Kujikawa’s big come-back tour. Who is Kanami Mashita? Where are the rest of her dance troupe? Just what is The Midnight Stage?
Persona 4: Dancing All Night seeks to answer these questions through one of the oldest forms of expression: dance. It might sound a little corny, and in the end, maybe it is. But this game brings the heart, the darkness, and the style that fans of the Persona series have come to expect and love. (Hey, if Buffy and her investigation team can do it, so can Yu.)
Dozens of your favorite tracks from Persona 4 and it’s various spin-off games have been brought together, many have been remixed, and all have been plugged into a very Dance-Dance Revolution-like formula. Notes scroll from the center of the screen outward towards one of 6 buttons, and you just have to press them in sequence. There’s also a little scratch circle that demands you flick the thumb-sticks to build up your Fever Meter for an extra special visual treat during the song. It’s not going to go out and impress fans of rhythm games as it’s fairly simplistic and straightforward, but it’s perfectly serviceable and wholly approachable. This serves to ensure that fans of Persona who have never picked up a rhythm game will be able to get enjoyment out of the title’s story without being barricaded by impossible tasks.
The story mode of the game feels like an improved take on Persona 4: Arena‘s storytelling style, while telling it’s own tale. Yes, there are branching paths, and yes, it’s mostly told in a visual novel style. But the visuals are crisp, the faces animate cleanly, and there’s far less exposition and more fully-animated cutscenes. You’ll be done somewhere around 8-10 hours with the story, but it’s perfectly laid out. By the climactic sequence of the game, every song selected is exactly the right song it needs to be leading to an all-out rush of a finale.
When Persona 4 originally came out, I thought it was a great title that felt maybe a bit rushed to capitalize on the success of Persona 3. Then I realized the dark charm hidden within it, and was instantly in love. I’ve since spent 7 years falling head over heals for The Investigation Team over and over. But Persona 5 has finally shown it’s head. It’s coming next year, so Yu and his crew are finally going to have to pass the torch. Persona 4: Dancing All Night feels like the absolute best way that Atlus could have sent off one of my favorite video game casts.