[Review] Blue Reflection
Over the last few months, a lot of interesting looking games have been released, one of them being the JRPG Blue Reflection. I was hyped for it ever since it was first announced by Gust, the team behind the Atelier and Nights of Azure series, as it seemed to be a completely new game. However, things were a little different when I actually played it.
In Blue Reflection, you play as Hinako Shirai who had to give up her passion of ballet dancing due to a knee injury. As she attends school, she meets the sisters Lime and Yuzu, who turn her into a "Reflector". She receives magical powers which grant her the ability to move freely without feeling any pain and fight demons in another world called The Common.
The gameplay is quite simple; Similar to the Persona series, you guide Hinako through her daily life at school and fulfill missions which mostly consist of forming bonds with your schoolmates and collecting fragments in The Common to sort out their emotional problems and concerns. There is no currency in the game and your HP/MP are fully restored after every battle, meaning you won't have to worry about how much you spend buying items.
You level up your stats and unlock new skills and abilities by saving students as mentioned above. Battles are round-based. However, there's a gauge that determines who attacks next on top of the screen. Using different skills, you can delay your enemy's attacks. Additionally, almost every demon has its own strengths and weaknesses, making battles even easier.
There is also a social app in-game which contains a messenger you can use to communicate per text with other characters, a jukebox to listen to the soundtrack, a mini-game in which you can raise your own monster and some other cute functions. Overall, the game's mechanics are pretty simple and easy to understand.
I surprisingly found the audio and visuals quite impressing. Each track in the game is composed wonderfully and has a heart-touching tone to it. The voice acting is spot-on for each character and the sound effects are realistic. The graphics are great and character & scenery designs look detailed and authentic to other Gust games.
However, there are also a few cons I would like to address. While the visuals and soundtrack are great, the framerate tends to be rather bad and the character animations can be a bit wonky. The game mechanics might be simple but I felt they were also very repetitive and I got bored halfway through the game. Many times I found myself comparing Blue Reflection to other series - Persona and Sailor Moon for instance. And even though they are optional, I found that the DLC prices were way too expensive.
To summarize, I think that while Blue Reflection is a good game, it could have been a *great* game if it had more diversity. It might be visually appealing and have some unique characters and a beautiful soundtrack but at the same time I would have liked to see a lot more than just "save your schoolmates from succumbing to their feelings or else it's game over". I would even go as far as to say that it should have been an anime series rather than a game.
In my personal opinion, the game is worth getting but if I was you I would wait for a price drop.
7.5/10 + beautiful visuals + simple UI and battle system + wonderfully composed soundtrack - repetitive gameplay - poor animations and framerate issues - lack of originality
Blue Reflection is available now on PS4, PS Vita and Steam.