Review: Persona 4: Dancing All Night

Persona 4 is one of my favourite games ever. It’s a game about a ragtag group of Japanese high school students with magical powers trying to solve a murder mystery plaguing the small, sleepy rural town of Inaba. It’s also a game about acceptance, in which people become consumed by the darkness within; a part of themselves they wish to ignore and hide from the world. As you progress through the game; Atlus makes it increasingly clear that accepting who you are, warts and all, is key becoming a better person, and in turn helping us get more from the world around us and from life itself.

Dancing All Night’s plot treads a similar path. Taking place not long after the events of Persona 4; resident idol Rise is planning a big comeback concert and the gang is along for the ride. Her record label have paired her up with the hottest group in town; Kanamin Kitchen. However, said group has gone missing and a cursed website has people collapsing into comas. We soon find that not everything is as rosy at it seems among the ranks of Kanamin Kitchen, they resent their manufactured personalities, not reflective of who they really are, all the while playing to an uncaring, fickle audience. It’s up to the investigation team to sort out the mess yet again, and this time they can’t use their Personas, so they only way to fight the shadows this time is to dance! It’s a contrived way to shoehorn the Project Diva-esque gameplay, but the result is still a good time, even if the plot ultimately falls flat; feeling little more than a tribute band to the original.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night feels like a stop-gap, something to tide the fans over until the main event that is Persona 5.

Speaking of the gameplay, it’s nothing revolutionary for a rhythm game. Press buttons to the beat when they line up with the circles; if you make it to the end you’re graded on your performance. The difficulties range from incredibly easy to Vita-breakingly ridiculous. The setlist is somewhat robust, containing thirty-six songs, but as someone who adores Persona composer Shoji Meguro’s work, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. There are some amazing remixes here from the ensemble cast of DJs, and some I will seldom play again.

Persona 4: Dancing All Night feels like a stop-gap, something to tide the fans over until the main event that is Persona 5. While the gameplay nor the plot are anything amazing, it’s a fun, light-hearted way to celebrate one of gaming’s most iconic soundtracks, and to wave one last goodbye to an bunch very near and dear to my heart.

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