Release Date: December 4th 2018
Available on: PlayStation 4 and PS Vita
It was getting late in the streets of Shibuya. I, the leader of the phantom thieves was waiting for a dear friend. We had just gained intelligence of a secret ploy to expose students of Shujin Academy to ridicule and hatred.
As I turned to my left, there he was, my best friend Ryuji Sakamoto. The ex-track team member had some bad blood with his previous teammates, but he wanted to protect them from this evil scheme. It had been two months since we captured and exposed Kamoshida’s crimes against the school, his abuse against students was finally revealed. As the Phantom Thieves, we aim to change the hearts of those who are corrupt. This time around, it was none other than Kamoshida’s trusted disciple, Yamaguchi attempting to continue abusing and using students for personal gain. That is something we won’t let happen, isn’t it Ryuji?
Persona 5 was an excellent JRPG, and one of my personal contenders for Game of the Year in 2017. That was just a small snippet from my experience, a moment that was ingrained into my brain immediately. The themes and tone of Persona 5 are unlike anything gaming has ever seen before, it is quite unique in the fact that it isn’t afraid of showcasing mature content. It’s predecessor, Persona 4, had a similar approach to game design by exploring a different side of maturity.
Then came Persona 4: Dancing All Night (P4D), a wacky casual dancing game set in the Persona universe. The soundtrack in the Persona series has always been catchy and upbeat; a whole game surrounding its compositions had me extremely excited. As much as I enjoyed listening to the music in Persona 4, its sequel had a different level of, let’s say, funkiness. That’s why I was extremely pleased to learn about Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (P5D), a sequel of sorts that utilises the soundtrack from the latest entry in the franchise.
Unlike P4D, P5D doesn’t have a fully-fledged story mode. In P4D you had a visual novel style adventure mode, with dance segments sprinkled throughout the campaign. This direction didn’t bode well to pacing, and the experience didn’t feel consistent. P5D instead has a pseudo narrative, with small interactive segments between characters. The approach doesn’t affect the pacing of the game, being entirely optional and rewarding to the player.
Social Links have been an essential part of the Persona series since Persona 3 and these sections remotely feel like the staple mechanic. While it is disappointing to not have a narrative as deep as P4D, the fan service present in P5D makes up for it; Persona fans will be extremely pleased.
The core attraction for the series of dancing games in the Persona universe are the remixes of iconic tracks. P5D has a bevy of excellent rewritten compositions including one of my personal favourites, Life Will Change. The remixes give an alternative perspective on many of the memorable songs from Persona 5, and of course there are the returning songs that coincide well within the game. Rhythmic gameplay hasn’t really evolved in P5D but feels more like a continuation of what worked well in its predecessor. That’s what makes P5D feel fantastic, the controls are similar but with the visual style representing the darker tone of Persona 5’s colour scheme.
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is easily recommendable to fans of the franchise. It’s a love letter to the game’s well crafted soundtrack by composer Shoji Meguro and the game is pure fan service at its finest. The cast of memorable characters in Persona 5 bode well in a different setting and it makes me curious to see what possible future spin offs we may receive. While a dedicated story mode would have been a nice addition, the game’s addictive rhythmic gameplay will keep me hooked for hours to come.
REVIEW SCORE: 8/10- Pretty Good