If you've played Persona 5 then you'll already know that the Phantom Thieves have some sick moves, but they've been saving their best for Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. Yep, the disco spin-off craze that started with Vita title Persona 4 Dancing All Night has carried through to Atlus' latest mainline release, and so we're left to get down and boogie with Joker and the gang.
A rhythm game needs three key elements to succeed: style, good music, and addictive gameplay. Fortunately for Dancing in Starlight, the title delivers across the board, resulting in a devilishly cool dance-'em-up.
The Persona Dancing games see you time button presses and holds with on-screen indicators. The timing's lenient enough and the title's 'easy' difficulty makes for a great place to start, but things get really tricky really fast. If there's but one criticism that we have of these games it's that it feels like there should be a difficulty setting that sits between easy and normal. The jump between the two can appear huge at times, and it leaves us wondering whether another option would have been the best way to ease players further into the experience.
It's not a major gripe, though. You can see out every music track in the game on the easy setting if you like, and you won't be punished for it. What's more, as you continue to play, you'll unlock both support and challenge modifiers, which respectively increase and decrease the game's overall difficulty.
Still, 'practice makes perfect' is a phrase that rings especially true with these dancing titles, and if you want to work your way up through the difficulty levels, then you've got no real choice but to commit each track's button presses to memory. Sink a good few hours in and you'll probably be surprised by how quickly your fingers adapt to the beat of each tune, but don't expect perfect scores until you're really in the zone.
When you're in that zone, though... That's when Dancing in Starlight reveals its true form. The satisfaction that you feel from nailing every beat of a song is incredible, and it makes all the practice worthwhile. We dare say that, in the heat of the moment, there are few more rewarding games on PlayStation 4.
So what about the songs themselves? Well, Dancing in Starlight does a great job of including a range of music from Persona 5, and it sprinkles in a number of top tier remixes for good measure. Between brilliant tracks like Rivers in the Desert and super catchy remixes such as Jazztronik's take on Last Surprise, there's a lot to love. That said, there are a couple of jazz-infused tweaks that didn't quite gel with us, but that's likely down to personal preference more than anything.
Outside of the dancing, it's well worth pointing out that Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight does not have a story mode like Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Instead, the game adopts a more bite-sized structure, which, in our opinion, is a better fit. Rather than progressing through a loose-fitting plot where you spend more time reading than you do dancing, here you simply unlock social scenes between characters as you continue to play.
Each party member has their own set of fully voiced social scenarios -- both in English and Japanese -- and each conversation adds a little more depth. However, you'll want to play and finish Persona 5 before you dive in, because the whole thing takes place after the events of the mainline entry, which are referenced regularly.
Get friendly with your allies and you'll gradually unlock the previously mentioned difficulty modifiers as well as customisation items. There are a bunch of different costumes and accessories to collect, many of them harking back to specific events in Persona 5.
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is a rock solid and super stylish rhythm game. Its jazzy remixes are top notch and its presentation is excellent, resulting in a good-time-title that keeps you coming back for more. Approachable controls and concepts make it easy to learn, but a steep difficulty curve -- perhaps too steep, in some cases -- makes it very hard to master. Put in the practice, though, and you'll be rewarded with an immensely satisfying experience.