Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight & Person 5: Dancing in Starlight Review

By Mike Sousa on December 6, 2018

Born as a spin-off from Atlus' Megami Tensei franchise, the Persona series has been getting more and more popular over the years with each new main entry, with the latest entry, Persona 5, now being Atlus' highest selling game of all time.With the growing popularity of the series, Atlus developed several spin-off titles, such as Persona 4 Arena and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. With the huge success of Persona 5, Atlus also again took the opportunity to release Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, two new spin-off rhythm games that feature the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 5, respectively.

The story of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is pretty straight-forward. In Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight the cast of Persona 3 is summoned to the The Velvet Room (Club Velvet in this game) by Elizabeth, who wants our heroes to dance for her. The same happens to the Persona 5 characters in Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, with the only difference being that they are summoned to the Velvet Room by Justine and Caroline. Shortly after through social events, something I will get into in a bit, we find out that the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 5 are actually participating in a competition against each other, even though they are in a different space/dimension.

Unlike Persona 4: Dancing All Night, which featured a campaign mode that would take several hours to complete, the “story” of both games is actually experienced via social events, during which you interact with the several members of the cast. These events are unlocked as you meet various requirements while dancing, such as getting a certain rank a set of numbers of times, wearing different costumes, and more.

While you get some development surrounding the “competition” between the Persona 3 and 5 casts, these social events focus mainly on learning more about each character's personality, while also making some references here and there to events of their respective original games, something that will certainly please fans. In addition, as you progress with each character’s social events, you will gain access to their room, allowing you to check out their belongings and collect certain items.

If you have played Persona 4: Dancing All Night, you will feel right at home with the rhythm gameplay mechanics of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight. As you begin dancing, notes appear in the middle of the screen and move towards a set of buttons (cross, square, triangle, down, left, and up) you have to press or hold at the right time for maximum score. There’s also the “scratch” mechanic, where circular Scratch notes appear on screen and you have to either use the analog stick or touchpad/touchscreen. The gameplay is simple and straightforward, and is certainly a lot of fun for fans watching their favourite characters showing off their dancing skills on stage, even though sometimes it’s hard to pay attention to what’s happening in the background while you are busy hitting the several notes that appear on screen.

Rhythm games are not everyone’s cup of tea, meaning it’s only natural for these games to have several difficulty options, such as easy or hard, but Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight take this one step further with modifiers. There are support and challenge modifiers, which make stages easier or harder to successfully clear, respectively. Support modifiers, for example, can add extra boost to fever rings or reduce gauge penalties, while challenge modifiers makes things more difficult with options such as notes fading out or smaller gauge boosts. However, unlike the usual difficulty options, modifiers will affect your overall score, meaning that support modifiers will reduce your score, while challenge challenge modifiers will increase it. It’s certainly a nice addition for those that wish to test their skills beyond just completing the song by aiming at the higher score possible.

In addition to social events and modifiers, both games also allow players to unlock dozens of costumes and accessories, and personalize the cast to their heart's’ content. Unfortunately, this is extent of what the game has offer in terms of content, as you once you complete all 25 songs in each game (a small number in comparison to other rhythm games) and view all social events, there really isn’t there much to do. Although not a serious issue, I also wished that the game allowed us to pick the character we want for every song instead of each song having a pre-determined character.

Visually, the game features a unique and beautiful art visual style just like Persona 5, with everything from the beautiful dancing animations to the detailed backgrounds looking gorgeous. The fact that the menus and UI that look exactly like the ones in the original game is also a nice touch. The real star, as expected, is the soundtrack that is without a doubt superb. While it’s true that the game only features a small amount of songs, Atlus nailed it in picking the best tracks of Persona 3 and Persona 5, and remix them for this game.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are fun rhythm games that I would definitely recommend for Persona fans. With simple and engaging gameplay mechanics, and with the variety of customizations options available, players will definitely experience some fun moments on stage. While it’s true that both games lack in terms of content, especially in the number of tracks, Persona fans will still have a blast with the amazing soundtrack and seeing their favourite characters from Persona 3 and Persona 5 once again.

Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight & Person 5: Dancing in Starlight was reviewed using a PS4 Digital Copy provided by Atlus. You can find additional information about Gaming Union's ethics policy here.
Seeing the casts of Persona 3 and Persona 5 once again.
Lots of unlockables to customize your characters.
Amazing tracklist for both games.
Small amount of tracks and game modes.
Not being able to choose the character you want to play as whenever you want.
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