Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight Review
Following in the footsteps of Persona 4’s Investigation Team, the Phantom Thieves hit the dance floor in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. Swapping out role playing for rhythm-based gameplay, should you set out to feel the beat?
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight Review
Those who have played arcade-based rhythm games like the Hatsune Miku Project DIVA or Beatmania series will know what to expect in Dancing in Starlight. Each song is broken down into a series of beats, and one of six buttons on the DualShock controller must be pressed in the designated target areas on the edge of the screen. Evenly split between the d-pad and the face buttons, this setup works better than you would expect it to, even at higher difficulty settings.
Spicing things up are hold notes, double notes, and unison notes that must be pressed at the same time. Players can also increase their score by “scratching” via a flick of the analog stick. This can feel somewhat awkward, but missing them will not interrupt your combo. However, those that scratch the rainbow-colored “Fever Marks” are rewarded with “Fever Time” segments that offer score bonuses and a special dance routine.
This might all seem complex, but intuition comes into play once things are underway. No matter the difficulty setting, all notes are synced up perfectly, giving an advantage to those with a keen ear. Unlike titles like the DJMax series, however, each beat does not make up a segment of the song, but this largely comes down to preference. For those who need a bit of assistance, a number of modifiers can also be implemented that change the way scoring is handled. Just be warned that the dialog quips that serve as motivation in each song can border on the obnoxious – expect to hear “getting hype” and “how nice” more than a few times.
Rhythm games live and die by their song list, and Dancing in Starlight certainly branches into different genres. Some songs have been transformed into bass-heavy EDM melodies, while the intense boss theme “Blooming Villain” now contains a cheesy guitar solo. Unaltered versions of songs from the original Persona 5 release have also been included.
It’s just a shame that the collection of songs is a bit on the small side. Only 25 tracks are included in the base release, and there are multiple versions of the same songs. Though each song takes longer to complete than your average rhythm game, this proves to be a mixed blessing – the longer runtime means that the quest for a full combo is that much more difficult. In addition, songs like “A Woman,” “Ark,” and “King, Queen, and Slave” are all noticeably missing. Though some songs are better suited for dancing than others, these melodies could have also received a remix that does them justice.
The in-depth story mode found in Persona 4: Dancing All Night has been stripped down in Dancing in Starlight to a small selection of Social Links. These conversations between the members of the Phantom Thieves are pure fluff about ramen and easy-breezy poses, designed for those already familiar with the cast and crew. Those who have yet to play the JRPG source material will likely be lost with some of the plot points, but those who have already scoured Mementos will appreciate the expanded (if fanservice-heavy) character development present.
This truncated story mode unfortunately hampers the replayability of the title as well. Players can unlock different modifiers, outfit pieces, additional Social Links, and an “All Night” difficulty setting, but the lack of tracks means that completionists will experience the same pieces of content multiple times to unlock everything. Rhythm games focus on an skill-based feedback loop that rewards improvement, but the grind for 100% can quickly get repetitive.
Those who have already had their hearts taken by Persona 5 will enjoy their time with Dancing in Starlight, but those less familiar with the Phantom Thieves may be disappointed at its small song count and lack of extra content.
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