The Phantom Thieves are back again with Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight for the PS4 and PS Vita. The rhythm genre and Persona isn’t anything new, with Persona 4 having previously received its own dancing title. But Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight brings its own identity and style that keeps me coming back for more.
Persona 5 Dancing, or P5D for short, is a spin-off that starts off with The Phantom Thieves waking up in The Velvet Room. This rendition, however, drops the prison getup and moves to the club with couches, dance floors, and one giant disco ball. You’re greeted by your favorite wardens, Justine and Caroline, who inform you that you’ll be spending the evening dancing. You won’t be dancing in the Velvet Room though, as settings from the main story of Persona 5 become your stage.
Other than that introduction, the story takes a back seat to the gameplay. Social interactions unlock for each character as you complete challenges and tracks. The social interactions in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are full of humorous dialogue that took me back to building confidants in Persona 5. Though entertaining, not much narrative is really built off of these moments. Interactions mostly offer some brief humor, cool costumes, and accessories for the cast.
The rhythm gameplay controls from Persona 4: Dancing All Night return with using the cross, square, and triangle buttons along with the down, left, and up buttons. The “scratches” also return, which give you the option of flicking an analog stick, pressing a bumper button, or swiping the touchpad/touchscreen depending on what you’re playing on. In fact, on Vita, you can play the entire rhythm game using your touchscreen instead of buttons. For me, it felt awkward stretching my thumbs over the buttons, so I just stuck to the traditional controls.
For even more of a challenge, you unlock modifiers along the way which alter things such as icon movement. There are also modifiers which make the game easier as well, with auto-gauge fills, immunity, and other support modifiers. I didn’t spend too much time with these, but they did give me a fresh take during a replay of a track.
Of course, these controls mean nothing if the music selection isn’t there and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight delivers on this by bringing basically the whole soundtrack from Persona 5. From Life Will Change to Last Surprise, the soundtrack gives you all of your favorites as well as some notable remixes. There is a little over 20 tracks playable in P5D with some being duplicates (original and remix).
The audio quality is also fantastic. Of course, there’s only so much you can get out of the speakers on the PS Vita, but the game surprisingly sounded great. I just made sure to play this one with headphones to get the best experience as I had to get reacquainted with this amazing soundtrack.
Apart from the music, Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight retains the amazing aesthetic of the main entry. From menus to costumes and colors, the stellar look and feel that I loved in Persona 5 is all here. I’m also impressed with the overall graphics this game pushes on the Vita. The character models and animations look just as good as I remember on PS4, and I don’t think I experienced any frame drops or bugs during my playthrough. The dancing animations also are dynamic and unique from character to character. There were times I even went back and just watched the replay of a song just to see how well the dancing and camera worked.
Persona 5: Dancing doesn’t overstay its welcome at all, though I wish it was a bit longer. I wouldn’t expect a rhythm game to have a deep, long narrative, but maybe a more solidified story would have made this game more engaging like the core series. The social interactions are a great break from playing songs, but the lack of a strong narrative feels odd in a Persona game. And with a little over 20 songs, you probably could beat this game in a few brief sittings.
However, the content that is included in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight still feels complete with that quality the series is known for. And the short experience isn’t entirely a bad thing either. I felt like this game was perfect for the Vita due to its brevity. In my spare time, I was able to sneak in a few tracks and social moments before I had to get going to what I had next. This is something I think wouldn’t be possible if there were long cutscenes and story stitched in.
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight gives you everything you love about Persona 5 in a short and sweet rhythm game. Though I’m not necessarily getting a 100+ hour experience in this title, I still enjoyed every moment of my time with the Phantom Thieves.
With probably the strongest soundtrack out of all the Persona titles, it seemed like a no-brainer that Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight would be a hit. I never thought I’d have fun as much tapping to a remix as I did. Even the light social interactions in the game brought me back to the times I had interacting with everybody in my time playing Persona 5.
Though it might not be dense with content or story, Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is still a great rhythm game that captures the stylishness and tone of Persona 5. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the latest Persona entry who has been itching for more since finishing the game.