Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S
Release Date: November 22, 2022
Just Dance 2023 is the latest installment in Ubisoft's classic rhythm and dance series. It comes with 40 tracks, which is somewhat limited, although more songs are available if you pay for the Just Dance+ subscription service. It can accommodate up to six players, either in person or virtually, thanks to its new online multiplayer mode. This is more than sufficient in terms of entertaining large groups and allows for long-distance parties.
The game requires no additional accessories — you can play by simply downloading the Just Dance 2023 Controller app to your phone, and using that as you dance. However, be warned that it’s all too easy to lose grip of your phone in the moment, and do some damage as a result.
But, what makes this game stand out above all from its predecessors are the improved visuals. As you will find out in our Just Dance 2023 review, there’s greater detail and camera action during the routines than ever before. This makes it the best installment in the series by far.
Just Dance 2023 review: Gameplay
Just Dance 2023 is a rhythm and dance game, where you get to learn routines and dance along to 40 available tracks. Basic guidance on each dance appears in the lower-right corner of the screen with stick figures and arrows, so you can prepare for future movements. A 3D coach in the center of the screen gives clear indications of the present moves you should be performing. Your objective is to perfect the timing and accuracy of the movements, so you achieve a high score at the end.
There are 15 different playlists available, ranging from Daily Curated to Workout, should you want to dance your way through a range of tracks. However, if you often rely on playlists, the 40 track limit could soon feel restrictive. It’s only a matter of time before you see the same songs stacking up, which may make you consider purchasing the Just Dance+ subscription for a wider library and selection of playlists.
Just Dance 2023 has seen some improvements since the 2022 version. First, it’s worth flagging the improvement on the coaches during the dances. They seem much more humanized, with more obvious face expressions and emotions. This helps you enjoy the process more, instead of watching a blank mannequin dancing, as in previous games. Your favorite characters actually take part as the coaches as well, such as the Madrigals from We Don’t Talk About Bruno.
There’s also more detailed and obvious movement in the background, with impressive 3D effects to suit each song choice. For instance, in Lady Gaga’s Telephone, the coach is wearing a familiar outfit from the music video, while working her way through a prison. The camera itself is more active, too, zooming in and out and taking alternative angles of the dancing. Ultimately, it’s an improvement on last year’s visuals, which were less detailed and immersive.
The combination of visuals and sounds makes for a motivating workout, to say the least. Still, you need to be careful not to get carried away. It’s all too easy to end up dropping or throwing your phone across the room during sudden movements. I recommend purchasing a phone case with a wrist strap, for peace of mind during gameplay.
Just Dance 2023: Difficulty and progression
There are a couple of well-known dances available — Disco Inferno was a particular favorite of mine. Other routines are much more complicated to pick up on, and may require a few practices until you know what to expect. There are difficulty ratings supplied with each song to give you an indication before you start.
For instance, the first song I tried was We Don’t Talk About Bruno, as it’s a guilty favorite. As each section of the song progressed, the moves altered, leaving me a little lost and making a mess of things. Having said that, I still achieved four stars on my first go.
This leads onto my next point: It’s probably a little too easy to achieve high ratings and level up. I tried simply moving my phone in my hand from side-to-side to the tempo while sitting on the couch, with no reference to the moves at all, and still achieved two stars.
However, earning these stars helps you level up, which gives you access to a number of rewards to customize your Dancer Card. These include avatars, backgrounds and borders. There’s little benefit to these extras, other than showcasing your experience to others, but it’s a nice touch, and it gives you something to work toward.
If you're worried you might look silly to an outside observer, it's likely as bad as you expect, and then some. My boyfriend entered the room and said nothing, but I heard the blinds close in the background. Suffice it to say, he didn’t want the neighbors seeing. But, I’m sure with practice and a mirror, you could make things look more professional in time.
Just Dance 2023 review: Accessibility
The lack of accuracy when it comes to scoring in Just Dance 2023 is arguably a flaw, as mentioned earlier, which has also been the case in past installments. However, this type of tracking still makes the game widely accessible for wheelchair users and others with physical disabilities, which is brilliant. You can even filter the songs by accessibility to find those that you can perform while seated. Other options include jump-free and ground-moves free songs, leg-friendly options and even songs that are best for small spaces.
If you’re strapped for space, or your living room is crowded with furniture, some of the Just Dance 2023 tracks can be difficult to perform. If you plan to have others join in, make sure there’s enough room and all fragile items are far away from the dance floor.
Just Dance 2023 review: Modes and Multiplayer Options
Just Dance 2023 has added a new online multiplayer mode as well. With this, you can invite up to five friends to join in, and monitor their scores alongside your own as you dance. This won’t give you quite the same experience as having others dancing alongside you in person, but it’s a welcome addition, and a useful feature for long-distance parties. You can, of course, still dance with others in the room. They just need to download the app and sync their phones.
One thing that’s missing is that there no longer appears to be a Sweat Mode or a Kids Mode, as there was in Just Dance 2022. There is a 2023 Edition Workout playlist, but there’s no longer any information on calories burned.
Playlists exclusively for kids exist as well, but you will need access to Just Dance+ to get to them. Ultimately, by integrating these modes into the playlists, Just Dance 2023 strips the gameplay back to the basics. And while this reduces the number of gameplay options, it does simplify the overall experience.
Just Dance 2023 review: Just Dance+
If you want access to more than the default 40 tracks, you’re going to have to pay for the Just Dance+ subscription service, previously known as Just Dance Unlimited. This gives you access to a growing library, so you won’t tire of the same songs. The standard Just Dance 2023 installment comes with a 1-month free trial, while the Just Dance 2023 Ultimate Edition (priced at $85), comes with 13 months of access. At the time of writing, there were 171 tracks in addition to the 40 originally provided using Just Dance+.
Personally, I didn't find the additional songs necessary. But, if you’re an avid fan of the Just Dance franchise and you plan to play for hours on end, the Just Dance+ subscription is likely a necessity.
Just Dance 2023 review: Verdict
Just Dance 2023 is as fun as ever, and a brilliant way to entertain party guests. Having only 40 songs feels a little limiting, so you need to be prepared to spend more on the Just Dance+ subscription. The basic package is more than sufficient for occasional gameplay and workouts, though.
The visuals and guidance are certainly impressive, if a little overwhelming for a first-time-player. But, there are a couple of classic dance choreographies to get you started without too many surprises. The addition of the online multiplayer mode helps expand the game’s capabilities as well.
Overall, Just Dance 2023 is just as it always has been: fun and carefree. The visual improvements are definitely a welcome upgrade — one that will only motivate you to join in.