Even in Dreams

After Mitsuo Kubo has been apprehended, the scooby gang can finally relax safe in the knowledge that the serial murders that have been plaguing them and Inaba for the last few months have come to a close. Putting their Personae away, in favour of lazily spending time under the sun. However, something doesn’t feel quite right with protag/brotag/banchou/Souji/Yuu/Charlie Tunoku/Kevin/insert name here.

There are no big surprises with Endless Summer Time (which I’ll now refer to as EST), a VN having been in production since 2010 and finally being released at C82 revolving around P4’s protagonist. It starts from the 13th, after the investigation team have defeated Mitsuo and his dungeon, a time in P4 where the tension is at its lowest. The lives of the investigation team are filled with  eating watermelon and festivals as opposed to bodies hanging from telephone poles being obscured (along with the truth) by a dense fog.

The trial takes the player through until the end of August, showing fragmented parts of the protagonist’s life. As he goes through working at Junes, hanging out with his friends and having easygoing chats with his uncle and cousin, something darker lurks at the back of his mind. Whenever he feels self-doubt  or has a feeling that there’s something off, a black cloud covers the screen. He still has the cryptic dreams, but they’re beginning to have a larger impact on him. Him starting to see Adachi as not just his uncle’s subordinate, not just an officer in charge of the case, but as as an actual person is what curiously triggers that change.

Due to this, the protagonist is constantly reminded that despite Adachi’s easygoing smiles and awkward nature, he doesn’t know a thing about him. For all he knows Adachi could have lived god knows where and been married, and the thought disturbs him somewhat. He becomes even more bewildered at Adachi seemingly knowing how worried he is at the thought of leaving his friends in Inaba behind, before he comes to the realization himself. Who is the person he bumps into at Junes every so often with the crumpled tie and bag filled with cabbages, really?

Although Adachi is the hero here, there are opportunities to visit the festival with other characters.  There’s Yosuke and Nanako, or Rise and Chie. Rejecting both of those offers in favour of doing homework opens the option for going to the festival with Adachi, in which Dojima pushes him into. In that aspect there is something for almost everyone here. You want to see a blushing Chie in a yukata, Nanako being her adorable self, or Yosuke crashing into things? You got it. Whether those routes will continue into the full game though, is another thing.  If so, besides Adachi it looks like there’ll be Yosuke and Rise routes since they got the most attention. This is all speculation of course, but what would be the point of having the option to go to the festival with them otherwise?

You may have noticed how different the CG I posted above looks from the tachi-e, and that’s because they were done by different artists. EST is a fan collaboration in every sense of the word, not merely being worked on by one person. It features several prolific artists doing a CG each, and if you’re a fan of P4 and visit their sites then surely you’ll recognize some pieces. It’s a nice touch. There are some variations in quality, but who cares? It’s like the loading screens in Project Diva. Some may be awfully drawn, but it all adds to the authenticity of the game. It makes things more memorable that way, I feel. However, I can’t say I am a big fan of the tachi-e. Yosuke, Rise, and and especially Nanako’s faces remind me of those awful china dolls for some reason, with their overly large glossy eyes. Soejima’s art this ain’t, but at least Adachi, Chie, and the protagonist look good.

The music has been composed by SENTIVE, so there’s nothing really to complain about in that department. The starting screen’s soothing piano track amidst a background of sunflowers did stand out. I’m sure I’ve heard the music that played during the festival sequence before (I’ve a feeling it was in Hatoful Boyfriend), but once again, it’s not a problem.

Unfortunately, since it’s going to be sold at C82 the chances of me being able to experience the full thing are slim at best, unless it happens to go up for sale on Tora no Ana. But no matter what the outcome is, I’m glad that I even had the chance to give the trial a go. My experiences with tracking down another P4 VN didn’t go too well, you see. About a year after P4 originally came out, a group rush+ developed an Adachi centric VN called Alt+Happiness, in which you could pair him up with either the protagonist or Dojima. It’s extremely rare and seldom appears on any auction sites, and when it does it goes for a snort inducing price. While writing this up I decided to give another quick look around for it, and I found a copy for 10,000 yen. With the elusive Alt+Happiness never going to fall into my hands, I naturally assumed that would be the end of it. While Persona 4 has always certainly been popular, it was going into decline, if only slightly before the announcement of the anime last year. There weren’t as much stuff being released as there were a year or two previously.

Since then the franchise has gotten its second wind, receiving a stage show, more manga, a light novel, a port to the Vita featuring additional content, and a plethora of other merchandise. P4 is more popular than ever and with the fighting game on the horizon, that popularity isn’t going to wane anytime soon. So, you can bet how pleased I was upon discovering that yet another Adachi centric title was going to be released.

The trial can be downloaded right here.

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