Title: Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Reviewed On: PS4
I must admit that I didn’t know about Persona 3 until I picked up Persona 3 Portable in 2010 on PSP. Suffice to say, it changed my idea of what a JRPG could be and sent me into a spire of looking for more niche titles like it. The idea that I could revisit these characters in 2018 was one that I have been looking forward to, so you could imagine my reaction when Atlus announced the Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight would be coming west.
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight strips itself of its JRPG systems in order to bust open the doors into the rhyme genre. Yes, this is a rhythm game that brings the music from Persona 3 back to the fans through remixes and arrangements to give them the chance to see these characters in a new light. Although this random idea seems silly in concept, it works in a handful of ways that many fans will latch onto, but new fans of the Persona series might feel left out of the game’s narrative.
The game brings the cast of Persona 3 into the velvet room by Elizabeth. It’s an interesting reunion as Elizebeth explains that the group will competitively dance in order to be crowned the best guest in the history of guests. The group turns to the main protagonist, Makoto Yuki, for direction and he takes the place of leader once again.
During the story, players will learn about the reasons why Elizabeth brought them all there and some things she is hiding. As the player unlocks story scenes, which will be discussed later, I found that the scenes featuring Elizabeth were the most enjoyable and thankfully, she’s in a lot of them. Additionally, players will be able to spend time with each of the characters as they catch up and talk about what they’ve been doing.
I enjoyed the story direction of competing against the guests from other Persona series. However, Elizabeth is often vague about her sisters and the other guests, which left me wanting a full crossover between all the characters. This entry does away with the visual novel style storytelling of Persona 4 Dancing all Night and instead has players hit milestones while dancing to unlock story scenes. These milestones include getting a high number of combos and perfects and also wearing different accessories and clothes.
Gameplay features all the characters dancing to a variety of songs and remixes of tracks found in Persona 3. Let me just say that each of these tracks is awesome and I couldn’t seem to play through them enough across all difficulties, which the game has four different modes. I would say that the strong soundtrack of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight makes this game a better dancing experience when compared to the other entries in the series, but that could also be the nostalgia talking.
Players need to tap notes on the controller as they fly from the middle of the screen. Since P4D, I thought this rhythm system was pretty interesting and after a few songs, it’s totally manageable to switch over to the hard difficulty and master remaining tracks. However, the hardest difficulty unlocked after completing the game will take some getting used to and requires players to pay a bit more attention to the notes. Regardless of the difficulty, there is fun to be found for all gamers who enjoy more relaxed or challenging gameplay. With that said, P3D is extremely forgiving to players who tap a bottom too late or early. Although receiving a “Good” will usually reset your combo unless you’re in Fever mode.
Character models in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight are some of the best anime style 3D models that I’ve seen in a game. During story scenes, their movements and reactions are almost never-ending and they are just so great to watch. Furthermore, their dance moves are just as great if not better. Every character was interesting to watch and had their own unique dance style. During a song, players can trigger a Fever mode which invites another character to the dance for a unique duet.
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight also has a handful of options to customize the dance and notes to make the game more difficult or easier with an altered score percentage at the end of the song. There is also a mode for players to explore the character’s dorms and check out their stuff while acquiring new items.
I can probably sing praises about Persona 3; Dancing in Moonlight for a while, but I must add that the game’s story doesn’t hold up for the entire game and the conclusion is rather rushed. However, the game has so many things to unlock and goals to meet that the ending comes and goes without really paying too much attention.
For a rhythm game with only 25 songs, Persona 3; Dancing in Moonlight has a ton to offer in terms of content available to those who spend more time playing the songs. The game requires the player to play through the game multiple times and on various difficulties if they want to see everything this game has to offer. There’s even a VR mode where players can watch the characters dance (don’t get any ideas) or explore their rooms.
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight has so much to offer fans of the series, but for those who don’t know these characters, it might not mean as much to them. However, there’s always time to jump in and experience Persona 3, but this is a game with so much fan service that it doesn’t slow down for those who haven’t taken the time to play the main game or watch the anime.
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight is pure fun thanks to one of the best game soundtracks, which begs the player to continue playing and unlock new tracks. Even when the story feels like it’s dragging, there is always something to do or some goal to meet which should interest those who enjoy rhythm games. This is a game which took a chance to get rid of the half of the reason why people enjoy the game, the RPG elements, and instead focus on the cast of characters as they dance their way to being the most honorable guests.
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