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Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight Game Poster Image
Rhythm game explores its teen characters' insecurities.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Brief dialogue scenes give rise to themes of friendship, cooperation, love, and insecurity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The heroes each suffer from lack of confidence in various ways, and rely on each other to perk themselves up and slowly acquire the courage and self-certainty they need to do what they have to do -- namely, dance.

Ease of Play

Players simply tap buttons according to on-screen cues. If it becomes too challenging, you can lower the difficulty setting and switch on play modifiers that make the action more forgiving, allowing you to be a bit sloppier in your timing.

Violence

No violence, but blood appears on one of the character's costumes.

Sex

A couple of characters show affection for others, but it isn't physically expressed. Some female characters wear tight and revealing outfits that call attention to their curves and sometimes bouncy cleavage.

Language

One character frequently uses mild profanity, including the words "hell," "bastard," and "s--t."

Consumerism

Based on the gameplay and characters from Persona 5.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight is a rhythm game for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, and PlayStation Vita. The game doesn't have any violence, though one of the characters has an outfit with visible bloodstains. Action takes place in a dream world where the heroes are tasked with taking part in a dance competition. Players simply tap buttons according to cues on-screen. Brief narrative sequences between songs see characters chatting with each other, revealing their insecurities. The player can lightly affect how these conversations progress, offering varying levels of support and encouragement that foster confidence. Parents should also be aware that some content is designed for slightly older eyes and minds; dialogue contains occasional mild profanity, including words like "bastard" and "s--t," and some of the female characters dress in revealing outfits that can draw attention to their breasts. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

Starring the beloved members of the Phantom Thieves that many players got to know over the course of the 100-hour-plus Persona 5, PERSONA 5: DANCING IN STARLIGHT sees this band of friends reunite in a dream world where they're told they need to win a dance competition or suffer what are assumed to be painful consequences. The group works together, inspiring and encouraging each other to perform their best during brief narrative sequences between songs. When they eventually take the stage, the player takes the reins, tapping buttons displayed on-screen in time with the music to pull off professional routines. The music is a collection of original and remixed songs from Persona 5. Each has a base difficulty level, but players can adjust overall difficulty and apply unlockable game modifiers -- such as one that keeps your streak alive if you score only a "good" rating on a beat, which usually resets the streak -- to suit their preference and ability.

Is it any good?

Though designed to be played on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, this music rhythm game is probably best experienced on PlayStation Vita. That's because Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight's beat-timed button cues flow toward the outer edges of the screen, and are only a few inches apart from each other on the smaller handheld Vita screen. Played on a large living room display, this distance can expand to several feet, forcing players -- especially those who like to sit close to the TV -- to repeatedly dart their eyes from left to right to keep track of all the notes. This one quirk aside, Dancing in Starlight offers a sturdy rhythm game foundation, providing a nice range of note types that range from simultaneous button presses held for specific lengths of time to optional joystick "scratches" to add a bit of custom flavor to each song. And giving players the option to tune the difficulty to their abilities means few are likely to get frustratingly stuck on a specific track. That these songs are largely beloved by those who played the original Persona 5 is just the sugar on top.

Where the experience falters a bit is in its story -- or at least what exists of it. The Persona games are renowned for their dynamic characters and epic narratives, but the brief story sequences provided here, which need to be unlocked by meeting certain conditions while dancing, are a bit shallow, straightforward, and predictable. You get to see a little more of the strange magic that made the original game stand out -- like Mona the cat's romantic obsession with Ann -- but these moments are better categorized as either teases or fan service, and don't really go anywhere. To get the most out of Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, it's best to set your expectations: It's neither a sequel nor an expansion, but more a lengthy and enjoyable music-based mini-game that gifts us a little more time with some of the most memorable game characters of 2017.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the character strengths of the people in the game. All of Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight's protagonists have their own character strengths, quirks, and flaws, but are you able to identify with one character more than the others? Why?

  • Do you think Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight''s representation of what a dream is like is realistic? Do you see any deeper meaning within your own dreams?

Game details

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