Before we begin, I feel it’s important to state that our reviews for Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, Persona 4: Dancing All Night, and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are incredibly similar. The games all follow the same format and deal with the same content, just with a different cast of characters and a different soundtrack. Seeing as all three reviews are being done by myself, the text and content will largely be the same across the different games, with changes occurring where each game is slightly different. I wanted to be clear on this for total transparency.
Title: Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
Publisher: Atlus USA
Available On: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Game Provided By Atlus USA for the Purpose of This Review
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight reunites the cast from Persona 3, and it truly felt like a high school reunion taking place. What’s interesting about this release is the fact that ATLUS had to create brand new character models for all of the playable characters, and to see them fully rendered and in 3D, it almost makes you wonder if we will ever see a full remake of Persona 3 as fans have been hoping for.
Upon starting the game, you’re introduced to the Velvet Room by Elizabeth, but there are some noticeable differences than what we are used to. A place that exists between dream and reality, mind and matter.. this is Club Velvet. One aspect I thoroughly enjoyed was the connecting threads between all three Persona dancing games. We already know ATLUS has toyed around with having there be one cohesive Persona universe, and it’s more apparent here, as a Ball is being held with the cast of Persona 3 taking on the cast of Persona 5 in a competition between siblings. The reason for this is because the cast of Persona 4 was able to handle a situation through dance, so why can’t they. Since time and space do not traditionally matter in the Velvet Room, all of the cast members are technically asleep in the real world, and upon waking up, will not remember anything that happens during this dream.
The music and rhythm mechanics are the star of the show, as you’d expect in a game such as this. Featuring tracks originally composed by Shoji Meguro and redone by Ryota Kozuka, there are several original soundtrack scores on top of the remixes done by artists such as ATOLS, Lotus Juice, Taku Takahashi, and Jazztronik. In all, there are 25 fan-favorite tracks included in Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight. Seeing the members of SEES bust out moves to traditional Persona tunes is quite enjoyable being a huge fan of the entire franchise, and because each dance is unique to the character that is featured, it’s worth it to go back and watch the replays so you can truly appreciate the time and detail that went into the choreography.
Several difficulty levels exist which will allow gamers of all types to be able to jump in and appreciate the game. Easy, Normal, Hard, and All Night each offer the right amount of challenge for their respective difficulty, while increasing the perfect amount from one to the next. In my personal opinion, Hard offered the best note tracks on a song by song basis that felt perfectly in tune with the beat, while All Night exists to truly test your rhythm skills.
The game plays in traditional rhythm fashion, with notes flying out toward the edge of the screen, and a button will need to be pressed when each corresponding note reaches that button. For the face buttons, you’ll be using Triangle, Circle, and X, and over on the D-Pad, you’ll need to use Up, Left, and Down. There are also scratches that need to be hit, and these can be done with either of the sticks, or if you turn it on in the settings, the shoulder buttons. Playing on a PlayStation 4 and the big screen took some time to get used to having originally played Persona 4: Dancing All Night on the Vita, but after several hours and popping the Platinum Trophy, I was easily navigating the tracks on a large TV. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it is easier to see the notes on the PlayStation Vita.
For completionists and those seeking the Platinum Trophy, there are dozens upon dozens of accessories and costumes to unlock for each character, and simply progressing through the game will naturally unlock everything. To reach the Platinum, it only took me around ten hours of play time, but there are endless amounts of replayability due to how catchy the soundtrack is and how much fun these games truly are to play. Even after having completely finished all three through the Endless Night Collection, I still am regularly going back and doing a song just to hear the music and stay connected with these characters.
In terms of story, Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight tackles this through the usage of social events. As you complete certain tasks through free play, such as hitting perfect notes, racking up combos, and equipping costumes onto the characters, more and more social events will start to unlock for all of the characters. You can see the requirements by going into that particular character’s screen, so it isn’t a mystery by any means. These social events allow players to get closer to the cast of characters, and the dialogue can even change for the same events depending on the choices you make if the option is presented to you to choose a reply. Don’t worry, all social events can be replayed over and over, so seeing all the content is possible. I actually preferred this method of storytelling over the usage of the traditional story found in Persona 4 Dancing, as it didn’t feel dragged out and didn’t overstay its welcome.
In terms of the complete Persona Dancing experience.. be prepared to drop some funds. Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight retail separately for $59.99 each on PlayStation 4 and $39.99 on PlayStation Vita. If you want the complete package on PS4 including Persona 4: Dancing All Night, then the Endless Night Collection will be what you want for $99.99. The bundle package for Vita, which just includes Persona 3 Dancing and Persona 5 Dancing, will retail for $69.99. It certainly isn’t cheap, but fans of the Persona franchise will largely find the investment worth it to continue seeing more out of these lovable cast of characters.
Offering addictive gameplay, a stellar soundtrack, and the universe fans of the franchise have fallen in love with throughout the years, it’s hard not to recommend Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight. Fans of the franchise will find this experience a pleasurable one. I’m hopeful ATLUS is eying a remake of Persona 3, because it desperately needs to happen.
8.0 / 10