September 23, 2015

Persona 4: Dancing All Night Review

Atlus brings both fan service and an engaging rhythm game exclusively to the Vita. Should you sit this one out, or keep playing all night?

I remember first hearing about this title a long time ago and thought it a strange path to follow in the Persona universe. I'm also going to admit that I never have played the Persona 4: Golden (P4G) game that everyone raves about and has given a 10/10 for their review. But after 15 hours in playing this game I have to admit I am truly hooked on it and can easily get more time out of it.

The Investigation Team is back! This time... ready to dance!
Persona 4: Dancing All Night (P4DAN) is a both fan service and a catchy-addictive-rhythm game. The fan service comes in the story presentation as it continues the paths of the Investigation Team right after the Inaba murders. There is no shortage of character banter here as you follow their new path as back up dancers to the teen idol, Rise. Yes, backup dancers.

The dancers get on stage, you do the rest with the tapping
Of course, there is a darker side to this new world as the team investigates a new mystery... this one involving a missing group of pop idols, haunted websites, suicide singers, and a sinister force within the TV World. The team gets drawn into this alternate dimension, and for reasons unknown they cannot fight the shadows there... so they have to think of a peaceful means of freeing the unhappy shadows from their bonds. And that, of course, is to dance. 

You need to encourage these guys to be true to themselves. 
If they can let all their feelings through, prove to the shadows that being yourself is a good thing, they can defeat the source of evil there. It seems a little cheese ball at times, but the dialog between the characters is entertaining and for those of you who want to hear more from your favorite characters, you'll get an earload. The story does get better as you untangle the web, and as you get closer to the characters. Not that there is any interactive elements to their choices and such, you merely are an audience. For those of you who don't want to listen to all the dialog, there is a "skip" button to get to the dancing. 

Characters are brought to life in dialog scenes like this one
And here is where I really started to enjoy the game. The rhythm game here is a simple premise. Star notes fly from the center and you either tap them onscreen or use the triangle/circle, cross button and the D-Pad to match them up to the beat of the songs. Simple. The joy of playing this game isn't the simplicity though, it is using the difficulty leveling and item list to perfectly tailor a challenge that is right for you. 

Build up your combos, hit perfects, and get that score up!
During the story mode, you can only choose a difficulty level to change this. Those range from easy, normal to hard at first. Later on you can unlock the devious "All Night" mode! But it is the Free Dance mode in which you will find multiple ways to play the game, and everyone will find something to challenge them. Once you start earning  in game cash, you can buy lots of costumes, accessories, and items. It is the items that make things tricky. 

Once you buy all the items, this is where you'll spend your time tailoring the challenges!
Some items make gameplay easier (like boosting Fever gauges or reducing the amount of buttons types you have to use... all with penalties!), or much more difficult. There are items that make the notes turn invisible. What?! To get the most from the game you want to play on this challenging edge, because easy might just be too easy. 

I'm proud of this one!
A rhythm game will only be as good as the songs that you can choose from. What do we have here? About 30 songs that vary in tempo, type, and style that will keep you interested. Now, granted, some of these songs are remixes and you'll start to wonder why some songs have a couple remix versions, and other songs don't have any. The ones that really get you pumped, complete with the character dance moves to match the intensity, and then you kill the song on "All Night" mode... I can't get them out of my head, in a good way. Some tunes are brought back from P4G, some are made just for the game here. DLC is available with new characters and tunes, as well. Want to listen to the songs? There's a built in juke box to play them!


What about the controls? I played through the story mode with the touchscreen and thought I wouldn't want to try the button pressing... but I tried it out and I actually think it is more responsive that way and now that is all I play. I have a PSTV but haven't tried it out up there yet, but using a Dualshock will work just fine if the Vita handling with the buttons says anything about it. 

Like even more challenges? Or leaderboards? PS4DAN has lots for you. Tons of trophies, in game medals to hunt through in a "Collection" screen, and ways for you to see how you rank up in the world. See your replays here in the Collection mode, check out character bios, see artwork, follow up on your in game medals... lots of stuff. 

A lot of details here. Check it all out so you can see all you've accomplished. 
Verdict
8.5/10
Great addictive fun for fans of the series and fans of rhythm games alike. Those who aren't in it for the page after page of dialog and sometimes in-your-face "believe in yourself" story line might find themselves skipping all that to get to the true meat of the game: the perfect challenge you can create for yourself with the difficulty tuning. 



Thanks, Atlus, for the review code!

Readers, what do you think? Care to take the game for a tour of the dance floor? Let us know below!



 
                     
PS Vita Hub ®