When Persona 4: Dancing All Night came out, it was more than just a music game. There was actually a campaign, offering an excuse for why the investigation team was suddenly dancing to fight shadows. Persona 5: Dancing Star Night eschews that premise. Whenever any element of story bleeds through, it is fleeting and directs the focus back to dancing.
There is no campaign in Persona 5: Dancing Star Night. The first time we get any semblance of an excuse for the Phantom Thieves being here comes the moment the game begins for the first time. Before you can head to the main menu, Caroline and Justine welcome the group to the “party” version of the Velvet Room, complete with mirror ball. They are aware of what happened in Persona 4: Dancing All Night, which led to this post-game affair that has the people just… dream dancing essentially, to enjoy and prove who is the best.
This does not mean there is no extra commentary or connection. Rather, Persona 5 Dancing Star Night introduces Commu. When you go through songs, you can hit different objectives. Completely these opens up to eight conversations with each character. These are brief visual novel segments, complete with moments where you can choose a response to a character. In return, you end up earning accessories, clothing, supports that make playing through songs easier and challenges that make playing through songs more strenuous. It encourages you to keep playing and replaying songs, so you can see and do more with these people you like.
Think of Commus as Social Links. Let’s use Futaba as an example, since she is incredibly easy to befriend. To unlock her events, you just need to play songs. At 3, 7, 15, 23, 31, 39, 48 and 57 total songs played, her eight different ranks unlock. When you go through her story segments, you do not need to pick the “correct” answer to get a reward. You just have to view it. Doing so gets you a tracksuit costume, DENON headphones, hair colors and other accessories. After getting the sixth conversation, you get the opportunity to explore each of these characters’ rooms to learn more about them and find cards that you can trade for more cosmetic items.
I suppose you could consider partner character actions as also telling a story. Like in Persona 4: Dancing All Night, triggering a Fever segment by dancing well will bring a partner into play. This person will behave a bit as they do in Persona 5, showing off their personality and hinting at their relationship with the character they have joined. Let’s use Haru and Futaba as an example. When Haru has a song, her style of dancing is ballet. If Futaba is her partner, then Futaba will attempt to mimic her style and performance. Haru will perform a move, giving Futaba a chance to also do it, and the two end up dancing together. It is almost like she is a big sister, helping her learn.
Persona 5: Dancing Star Night might not provide the same sort of extensive story as Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Instead, it offers story elements in other ways. We get a brief introduction, then are left to uncover extra events on our own. If you keep playing, experimenting with outfits, supports, challenges, songs and accessories, then eventually you rank up with each character and earn Commu events. Which unlocks more things to use and enjoy, so you can continue the process. For people who are looking for an excuse to dance, and keep dancing, with familiar characters, it works.
Persona 5: Dancing Star Night is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Japan.