Dancing with the Stars: Keep Dancing review

Dancing with the Stars: Keep Dancing is a Web-based game from BBC Worldwide designed to promote the show of the same name and its British equivalent Strictly Come Dancing. The game is not based on the Facebook canvas, but does feature optional Facebook connectivity for connecting with friends and sharing achievements.

In Keep Dancing, players are cast in the role of a custom avatar and tasked with performing various dance routines as well as possible in an attempt to earn as much money as possible, level up and unlock all the different dance routines. The game begins with a tutorial that walks players through the main aspects of the game and then guides the rest of their experience through a series of quests.

There are several aspects to the game. The “Wardrobe” section allows players to customize their avatar’s appearance and clothing as well as that of their partner, the “Studio” component allows for the purchase and practicing of various dance moves, the “Competition” aspect allows players to use their unlocked moves and routines to earn coins and experience and the “Choreography” component, unlocked when the player reaches level 8, allows players to design their own custom routines.

The dancing sequences in the game are tests of the player’s reactions rather than an accurate sense of rhythm. Green circles occasionally appear on the screen and the player must click inside before they disappear to earn bonus coins. When dancing in a competition, the player’s chosen lighting in the background occasionally glows purple and this may also be clicked for additional bonuses. The final score in a competition is determined by how many of these icons the player successfully clicked on — though there is no requirement for this to be done in time with the music.

Production values are high, with 3D polygonal visuals making up the majority of the game’s aesthetic. The dance moves are realistically animated — presumably motion-captured — and the background music is both high quality and has plenty of variety. The lack of a full-screen mode feels like something of an oversight, however — the game would have looked especially good at screen-size rather than in a small window, particularly on high-resolution displays.

Social features for the game include the ability to exchange gifts with friends and play back “shared routines.” Besides this, however, there is little direct interaction between players. The game also regularly prompts players to share achievements and completed quests on their Facebook Timeline, assuming they have connected their account, but does not automatically share stories without the player’s permission.

The game is monetized primarily through hard currency, which can be used to purchase premium costume items for the player’s character and dance partner. “Premium” might be something of a stretch, however, since many of the costumes that cost hard currency are simply palette-swaps of those that cost soft currency. Hard currency may also be used to bypass wait times for training new moves and routines or to restore the game’s (relatively generous but still frustrating) energy bar.

Dancing with the Stars: Keep Dancing is not a particularly complex game and whether or not it can sustain its appeal over time is perhaps questionable — the gameplay doesn’t seem to change very much as the player progresses, “Choreography” feature aside — but it is a fun game with good production values that will almost certainly appeal to fans of the show. It’s good to see developers of a TV show’s web game adaptation try something a little different from the usual cartoony big-headed isometric-perspective aesthetic and style of gameplay, so for that reason alone Keep Dancing is worth a look.

Play

A good adaptation of the TV show with a high degree of audio-visual polish.