Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection Review

If you’ve ever played a Persona game, you probably feel an intimate link with the characters you spent all of that time with. From dungeoneering to the sports club and everything in between, these virtual characters are your friends, and when you leave them finally it feels… deeply sad. Or at least it did for me. When I finished Persona 5, I struggled with what to do with myself.

I’d given myself over to the game in such a way that I felt a bit lost when I wasn’t comforted by its world for a minute. My emotions were tied up in the social links I’ve made and the characters I cared for like dear friends. Persona is such a powerful series because of how much freedom it affords to the player to just live and breathe and be human, alongside some of the most enjoyable RPG systems ever crafted.

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m a bit late to the Persona party, but I do indeed realize how foolish this is. I played the fifth entry in the series on my PS4 just last year, and almost a year later I bought a PS Vita solely to play the fourth entry, Persona 4: Golden. I’ve not beat it yet, but that fiscal commitment speaks for itself. There’s nothing really like it. For the record, I’ve also never played Persona 3, but I love the music dearly. I want to, eventually, when ATLUS remasters it. If you’re reading this ATLUS, please do that! You seem to have made the character models anyway?

Back to the review. When I heard about the concept of a Persona ‘dancing’ game, or, for that matter, spin-off titles, my ears perked up. Persona 4 had a brawler, a 3DS chibi dungeon-crawler and a dancing game. Alongside the mainline titles, these games are a big deal. Maybe more so in Japan, where the ‘Endless Night Collection’ I received for review has been available since May.

The collection contains Persona 3: Dancing in Starlight, the aforementioned Persona 4: Dancing All Night and most relevant, Persona 5: Dancing In Starlight. Three games for £79.99. Some may scoff at that price tag, but let me explain why it’s worth it, especially if you’re a fan.

That facet may be the most crucial part of the appeal. Naturally, to appreciate these games you have to understand the context of the games they’re spinning yarn from.

Yet, I’d argue that the rhythm gameplay that makes up the core of the experience is truly solid all the way through to the point where it stands on its own. However, there isn’t enough content there if you’re simply picking this up as ‘another rhythm game,’ as in that case, you won’t get much use of its unique approach to the genre.

You see, the Persona Dancing games are earnest in their fan service. They couple in ‘Social’ systems that mimic the main games to provide extra content.

Basically, you dance well and you unlock these small vignettes where the cast chats about something, and you can provide input where prompted. It’s very neat and tidy and full of reactionary meta-commentary on fan discourse on the game, and fun fan-servicey dialogue that never manages to be too trite.

I remember the game presenting me with Ryuji and other friends in different conversational contexts and I’d just catch myself beaming a big toothy grin. It’s like meeting up with old friends. You unlock the social segments by getting a string of ‘Perfect’ ratings, nailing combos and wearing different outfits. It’s cute and gives you strong incentive to soldier through the tracks you may not be that keen on.

Though, honestly, I don’t think there was a song I was bored with. The soundtrack is full of stellar remixes and original cuts of iconic songs from each game. It wasn’t quite Tetris Effect levels of frisson but I felt something, that’s for sure. This is thanks to the clever means by which you interact with the notes. Grafted from the VITA, you have three markers on either side of the screen. When the circles fall on a symbol, you hit it. It sounds so simple but this is made interesting by record and ‘Fever’ scratches, which appear as circles that cover every note spot.

You have to scratch the in-game record by wiggling the sticks or stroking the touchpad. It’s a very haptic way to engage the user, and I love it as an idea, but in practice, I eventually switched it to L1/R1, as you grip the controller in such a way that it’s hard to swap between. Mind you, this mode was designed originally for the Vita’s back panel, so it makes sense the transfer isn’t so seamless onto PS4. Glad they added the option to swap.

It even has a cute VR mode where you view character models and, explore the dorm rooms of the characters, with little in-jokes and secrets hidden for the die-hard fans. The character viewer is fairly lacklustre, but the P3D integration was a good bit of fun, and a nice way to flesh out the game away from its core loop.

Overall, I found the gameplay interesting and full of replay value and thought that the Endless Night Collection offered an experience beyond the standard rhythm game, one that I wasn’t really expecting. The reliably brilliant dialogue and fan service was a total treat, and making Morgana wear a dumb costume and having Makoto jump in looking equally daft never gets old. Of course, the entire value proposition of this game is predicated on you being a fan of Persona, but by god does it deliver if you’re part of the P-Studio discourse. This is, without conjecture, the ultimate accompaniment for a Persona fan. It’s the perfect Christmas gift if you’re yet to buy for your Persona-loving pal. In any case, enough with the chit chat, It’s time to get groovy. The Velvet Room awaits.

Product provided by Atlus PR

 

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