My name is Joel Ramirez. I do not have a single rhythmic bone in my body. I can’t dance to save my life. I am terrible at Guitar Hero, and I can’t tap my head while I rub circles on my stomach. Why would I be interested in a game that involves beats, dancing, and music? Well, maybe it’s the fact that Persona 5 was my favorite game of 2017, and I couldn’t imagine a cooler way to spend more time with my favorite band of misfit thieves! When Atlus announced Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, I was ready to step onto the dance floor.
Step Into The Spotlight
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight continues the beautiful stylized menus and interface we saw in Persona 5. The 3D character models look just as good as they did in Persona 5, and the use of color is still stunning. At times I had trouble with the amount that was on the screen during the stages. The HUD, notes, scratch rings, light effects, and background can be overwhelming at times. That may be due to the game being chaotic especially in the harder difficulties, so at times I felt my eyes were going to fall out of my head.
Naturally as a music rhythm game, the soundtrack is stellar in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. The biggest hits from the soundtrack are here and remixed beautifully. “Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There” is still my favorite song from the soundtrack. Other hits like “Rivers In the Desert” and “Price” are incredibly fun to play on “Hard” difficulty. The fact that some of the songs are repeated in your available song would normally bother me, but these songs are just so good I did not get tired of hearing them.
Move To The Music
Learning the different notes and types of button combos I would have to hit throughout the songs was just the beginning. The layout of the screen has up, right and down on one side and triangle, circle and “X” on the other (PS4 version). There are one tap notes, double tap, hold notes in which you long press the button, and unison notes (where you tap simultaneously, up and triangle for example). Along with hitting these buttons at the right moment, you have to manage to flick either Right or Left Analog sticks to hit the “Scratches” and “Fever” rings. All of these actions go towards your “Hype” meter which is how the player achieves high scores and completes the stages.
Easy and Normal difficulties are pretty manageable when it comes to hitting these notes and scratches once you become familiar with the rhythm. Then, when you move on to Hard or Starlight, things get really intense. Notes won’t flow in the same order as previous modes, and even unison notes won’t just be straight across, they become diagonal which really threw me off at first.
Clearing stages will unlock different “Social Events”. This is where you will get the story bits for Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. Going through each “Social Event” will unlock new costumes and accessories. Through completing different tasks and meters required by each stage you will unlock more “Social Events” and Support/Challenge modifiers.
If you want a really in depth story or sequel to Persona 5, this definitely won’t give you that. The story in this game takes place before the final palace from the main game. The twins, Justine and Carol, have taken you and the rest of the Phantom Thieves to a dream world where you are to enter a dance competition. Through “Social Events” in the game you get tidbits of back story about each character and their dancing experience. There are dialogue choices and interactions that I really enjoyed. I can’t get enough of these characters and have grown attached to them and the voice actors (reprising their roles without missing a beat).
However, this is where the game does lack. The basis of the story is fine. The way the “Social Events” are presented is very similar to the interactions you had in Persona 5. This time around though, it was mostly main protagonist (Ren) having to convince and motivate the other Phantom Thieves to dance. Most of the dialogue wasn’t very interesting to press through. I still enjoyed some of the interactions when other characters would be in each others interactions because it would add some comedic relief.
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is the dance party I never knew I needed in my life. The soundtrack is incredible, the presentation is as cool as it was in Persona 5, and the characters are entertaining to watch during their performances. Although the story/Social Events do not really bring much as far as in depth character progression, I’ll take what I can get if it means more time with the Phantom Thieves.
The tutorial does an amazing job teaching you the basics and the difficulty modes ramp up enough to keep you practicing without getting frustrated. That is heavily aided by the amazing songs and remixes. Replayability is high and constantly rewarding with new costumes, accessories, and dance partners. This game has opened me up to a genre I used to ignore completely and I cannot wait to tackle Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 4: Dancing All Night. I feel my training is complete and I am ready to tackle the series.