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Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight Review

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PS4

Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight Review

Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight on PlayStation Vita

We didn’t know we needed Persona rhythm games until we got the first one, Persona 4: Dancing All Night. The spin-off game lightly followed up on the conclusion of Persona 4: Golden with a story of its own featuring the stars of Persona 4 and some new fresh faces.

It wasn’t anything that was going to rival the original game, but it was worth the effort. More importantly, it was a very solid rhythm title with lots of awesome remixes of Persona 4’s best tracks.

It was well-received, we liked it, but honestly it seemed like a one-off experiment.

Perhaps Atlus would do something with Persona 5 at least since it did come out not that long ago. Much to the pleasure of many Persona fans, that’s exactly what happened (alongside an extremely similar title set in Persona 3’s world).

Unfortunately, Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight doesn’t get the same star treatment despite its title.  Whether or not it wants to admit it, it’s a “lite” version of Persona 4: Dancing All Night.

It preserves and improves on the gameplay, but it leaves out a story mode that was featured in the last game, and is more of an arcade-like experience.

There’s a thin plot that ties Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight with its companion game, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight.

Inspired by the actions of Margaret and Persona 4’s protagonist in P4DAN, the Twin Wardens are feuding with Elizabeth about whose guest is most capable of outdoing Yu Narukami.

The winner gets pride, and the loser is banished to a fiery hell filled with nothing but pain and punishment. Yes, really, at least according to the attendants.

The story that does exist is quite slow moving, and requires a good amount of grinding to see it through to its end. Most of your time will be spent dancing, and unlocking the requirements for each “Social” interaction.

The Social mode is where you’ll get your quality time with the members of the Phantom Thieves. It’s perfectly enjoyable, just nothing special.

There isn’t much character growth, it’s just more cutscenes with the gang where the dance ball is the subject of conversation for most of them.

It has its moments, but it’s a bit unbalanced. Some cutscenes were pretty pointless and dumb, others were heartfelt, and some were hysterical, and I was happy to have experienced them.

It’s just very much a mixed bag. I didn’t realize it until it was gone, but the plot from Persona 4: Dancing All Night, as flawed as it was, did serve a purpose, I can see that now.

It presented the character interactions in a much more natural way instead of just vignette after vignette, and gave the cast something to think about other than just talking about dancing and other random anecdotes.

I’m never going to complain about getting more time with any of the series’ amazing cast of characters. However, I can’t say with a straight face that many of the dialogue or cutscenes in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are truly memorable either.

You get to see and hear the characters interact, mess around, and flirt some more until Persona Q2 comes out.

It’s worth mentioning at least that I did find that the Persona 5: Dancing in starlight segments were more interesting, and well-written as compared to the ones found in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight.

Not significantly so, but that was my overall impression after some time with both games. It might be because Persona 5 is fresher material, or maybe it just came down to my own personal preference.

The same can be said for the track list. Although I found both game’s songs to be a bit unbalanced in terms of quality, I did think that Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight was the stronger of the two.

Still, both games have their clunkers. There is a healthy mix of awesome bops, lame remixes, classic songs left untouched, and songs that only sound a little different.

It’s uneven, but overall it’s enjoyable, even if it doesn’t quite reach the high bar that was set by Persona 4: Dancing All Night.

Luckily, the gameplay does see some noticeable improvements. There’s way more to collect and grind for this time and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight forces you to leave you comfort zone in order to unlock everything that’s available.

Maxing out the Social ranks will definitely take a bit of grinding, as well grabbing all of the costumes and accessories, of which there are many.

You have some hints for some challenges, like playing the song in reverse or random note mode, or not skipping at all, etc. but some are left hidden and you’ll need to experiment with different modifiers to find them all out.

Modifiers that make the game harder like smaller gauge boosts, and enabling miss for scratches will add to your score if you overcome it, while there are also modifiers like auto-scratch that will reduce your score, but make it easier to survive.

The added variety is a noticeable, and the grind to unlock everything adds more of a direction to the post-game that wasn’t as prominent in the last game. Besides all that though, the foundation of the gameplay is very much intact.

Button input commands fly around the screen at various speeds and complexities depending on your chosen difficulty. If you’ve ever played or seen a rhythm game before, you should have an idea of what to expect.

No complaints here on that front. Atlus really got it right the first time, and there wasn’t any need to make any drastic changes. The increased amount of modifiers and other content to unlock was just the right amount of new content to layer on top.

At its core, Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is a solid music/rhythm game, with a mostly good track list, that is very fun to play; that has to factor in. But so does the fact that this is very obviously a watered down experience as compared to Persona 4: Dancing All Night.

As long as a lack of a formal campaign isn’t a total deal breaker, Persona 5 fans should have enough here to enjoy themselves. Enjoy the extra time you’ll get with the Phantom Thieves and try not to think too much about the scrapped story mode.

Score: 3.5/5 – Fair

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