Review: Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection – Takes more than two to tango

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The latest debut of a Persona spin-off series comes in the shape of the Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection. In the latest entries, fans will see Persona’s 3-5 get a nice little post-story expansion and a lot of beat rhythm fun. Find out why in our review for Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection for PlayStation 4.


Pros:
+Voice actors from all three respective games return to reprise their roles
+The remixing and the inclusion of original songs is an absolute delight to have
+The switch from story to social in the latest two entries is a nice change of pace
+Persona 4: Dancing All Night’s cutscenes transition over well, leaving a want for a PS4 version of Persona 4: Golden
+Fully voice dialogue is an added bonus for those with difficulty reading or seeing the screen

Cons:
-Animated cutscenes are not present in Persona 3: Dancing In Starlight and Persona 5: Dancing In Moonlight


When Atlus announces a new Persona game, there’s no doubt that our hearts skip a beat. We love the atmospheres, we love the stories and most of all, we love the games due to the fact they are filled to the brim with everything Japan. But what we love the most outside of gameplay and story? The music. We absolutely love the catchy lyric-filled songs that serve as a backdrop to our adventures.

A few years back, we were fortunate enough to see a spin-off series for Persona gain traction with the release of Persona 4: Dancing All Night when it debuted on the PlayStation Vita in 2015. Now, here we are, 3 years later an HD remaster and two new entries following suit with Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, which carries forth the wonderful charm of the group of digital friends we’d like to call our own.

Once again, you’ll actually watch your pals bust a move while you work on matching the beat to every song they dance to and help them along their way as you enjoy remixes and original versions of some of the franchises famed songs such as “Burn My Dread” from Persona 3 to the upbeat and “Last Surprise” from Persona 5. While Persona 4: Dancing All Night does carry its own unique beats, it doesn’t mean that it is a neglected title in the Endless Night Collection by any means. It’s still important and serves an important role within the trilogy itself.

But there’s one major difference from their mainstay titles: You won’t be fighting shadows, demons, or the likes. Instead, this is a grade-a dance off contest that takes place in their dreams. The Persona rhythm games are an absolute blast and show just how dance can be used to express one’s self through the artform itself. Just like before, the respective dancers use their respective Personas to convey their feelings through their form of dance for their mysterious shadow spectators. So let’s get ready to bust a move.

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It’s time to bust a move and get this show on the road

Rhythm games, as you already know aren’t just about the songs you’ll hear as you play. Much like any beat rhythm title under the genre, your experience is going to be tied down to pressing buttons in a specified rhythm, one usually matching that of the pacing of the song.

You’ll still find yourself matching notes using both the directional pad and face buttons on the Dualshock controller, working to build up your combo and grow your chance of success. If you are familiar with any beat rhythm game, then you’ll be right at home when it comes to basic game mechanics. You’ll find that the newer dancing games are even more unique, and they are experiences made with Persona fans in mind.

There’s a hefty amount of treats for fans of the newest two games, which includes overlays, set designs, and even the overall UI appearance from the games they are based upon. That’s only a part of the treat though, the games are filled to the brim with music from each of their respective soundtracks. Through this element, you’ll find yourself enjoying the course aspect of the game, one that puts the story side-by-side with the mechanics themselves.

Along with mechanics also comes the fact that story elements themselves do exist and are easily placed within the experience you will have through completing specified tasks. For both big-time fans and small-time fans alike, the Persona dancing games are a delight an added bonus to the experiences they already have. The stories are fun, the songs themselves a delight and the idea of having both mixed together is something quite extraordinary.

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And there were no fights to be had today

Unlike previous Persona entries, you aren’t going to find combat as the core mechanic, but rather dancing and ensuring you can hit as many notes as possible without missing a single one. Well, you can miss a note or three, but the better you do, the better the score, the better the score, the more opportunities you have to unlock more of the story as you go. Putting that on the table, there’s plenty of reason to replay the game multiple times and try each of the difficulties that are available.

The game’s mechanics themselves are almost self-explanatory. First, notes that you will need to hit come from the center of the screen towards the border. In order to match the notes, you will push the buttons that correspond with each of them. If you end up making too many mistakes at once, you’ll find yourself being swept off stage with a poor performance, which inevitably needs to the required restart of a song.

Note speeds do vary while you play in both pacing, direction and the need for some double notes. The downside here will be evident due to a new and rather hard hurdle to master known as “scratches”. While scratches – for the most part – can be ignored, you will be awarded extra points for hutting them alongside a feature known as Fever-Time, which is your chance to earn bonus points up to two times per track.

But there are modifiers that can be enabled to change the value of your actions including the ability to make it so you can auto-achieve the scratches, but at the cost of your overall score or you can make it so they matter and increase your overall score as you play, which can add unique challenges across the board. These little modifiers you can add on can also add to the games replayability, forcing players to challenge themselves in any way possible each time through.

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The stories are quite charming and you’ll want to unlock them by playing as well

These other two titles, however, are also very different in what their narratives are trying to accomplish. In Persona 4: Dancing All Night, you aren’t helping anyone prepare for a comeback show as you did with Rise as she wanted to make her comeback debut at the “Love Meets Bond” festival.

Unlike traditional Persona games, however, you will only unlock the campaign by meeting certain requirements such as having your characters wear multiple different outfits or hitting a specific amount of notes. As you do this, you’ll find yourself pulled into anime-text-based sequences that play out like a visual novel.

Unfortunately, that’s a downfall from Persona 4: Dancing All Night in a minor way since those animated cutscenes were top notch and provided a great cinematic experience. While that’s not exactly what you’ll get with the latest iterations, you’ll still get a great story to experience as you play. Whether it’s the comedic value of Elizabeth as she takes on her twin sister and enlists Makoto Yuki and the other members of SEES or the Phantom Thieves being recruited by Caroline and Justine of the Velvet Room from Persona 5.

But the biggest difference is how you access the story itself since the core elements in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight have what’s called “Social” versus an actual story mode. You’ll find that Persona 4: Dancing All Night has roughly 60 entertaining cutscenes to enjoy while Persona 4: Dancing All Night while just as many narrative driven graphic-novel-like moments within the other two games. Each game can easily take you 20-30 hours to complete for a full story, which also means you’ll be spending a significant amount of time across each of the difficulties within each of the titles.

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And it sounds pretty damn good too

Now when it comes to a beat rhythm game, you’d be damned right if you were guessing we would talk about sound. After all, this is a beat rhythm title and sound is one of the most important features. When you play a game such as the trio you are reading about in this very review, you must understand that sound is going to be key; whether it’s the voice actors, the sound effects or minor dialogue lines during each song; they’re all as equally as important as the other.

Fortunately for us, Atlus didn’t drop the ball or cut any corners. Both the American and Japanese casts have indeed returned for these games (Persona 3: Dancing In Moonlight seeing the anime cast return for their respective roles) and they nail it spot on during their scenes. All the graphic novel scenes are brought to life by the voice actors for each of their respective characters.

Along with the solid casting once again comes the soundtrack which does not disappoint. Visuals and audio are all in high definition, giving you an idea of just how far Atlus went in order to deliver a full-blown beat rhythm Persona experience. Even the scratches, the sound effects when you click a button, they all are top-notch and can be toggled on and off as you please to ensure an immersive and customizable experience.

While there are rather nice tracks to choose from, there is a reason to discuss a specific issue. Persona 5: Dancing In Starlight does tend to re-use quite a few of its songs. Let alone do you get the base song, you also get the remixes and unfortunately, this does mean you may play a specific song two or three times throughout your time with the game – perhaps even more if you want to complete the story and unlock everything there is to unlock.

It does leave room for some of the songs to be cut from the game and brand new songs placed in their stead. This isn’t saying the songs are bad, but it does leave room for more and there already seems to be hints of that with the “DLC” options on the menus. If that’s the case, let’s cross our fingers and hope we see plenty of DLC being made as these games are certainly here to stay for quite some time.

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Last, but not least, the stage is set and the curtain is being drawn for the final conclusion

When you look at beat rhythm games in our current generation, there’s been very few of them and there’s even been fewer that have been inspired by well-established franchises on the market. Luckily for Atlus, these means that Persona Dancing: The Endless Collection isn’t just a masterpiece, but it’s something that opens the door for franchises to join the fray and certainly leaves hopes for more Shin Megami Tensei and Persona title spin-offs in the future.

My only regret about these games? None. I’ve enjoyed every minute of them and I’ve truly found very few flaws that should draw one’s attention from them and give a reason for one to not enjoy them. While the stories certainly do take place post-main entry title, it doesn’t mean newcomers can’t enjoy them for what they are: Musical beat rhythm titles with a relatively high amount of replayability.

Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection
Platforms: PlayStation 4 and Vita
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus USA
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $59.99 (Each) | $99.99 (Collection)

So what are you waiting for? Go – Get out there and bust a move already!


Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game. For information about our ethics policy please click here.


Final Score: 9 out of 10


About the Writer(s):

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

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