When we consider of “staple” genres that exist in a universe of Japanese anime, one that now comes to mind for me is a enchanting lady story. From groundbreaking early-era releases like Creamy Mami and Fancy Lala, to after big-name franchises like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, to some-more new (and daring) looks during a thought like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, large manga and DVD volumes have been filled over a years with girls (either on their possess or as a team) being postulated a energy to save a universe from evil—and doing so while looking stylish as ruin in a process.
Gust’s latest game, Blue Reflection, is their possess spin on that dear idea. We locate adult to a categorical heroine Hinako Shirai as she’s about to start attending Hoshinomiya High School after an extended absence. Hinako’s life seemed on a highway to stardom, as she had grown into a ballet expert unfailing to win a prestigious competition—until she harmed herself bad adequate that she could no longer dance. With her one adore in life gone, Hinako left from multitude for a while to understanding with a pain. Now, as she returns, many tools of her have nonetheless to heal—not usually those physical, though also mental and emotional.
Nothing could have prepared her for her initial day during school, however. Upon nearing during Hoshinomiya, she runs into Sanae, a former classmate of hers who had been wondering what happened to Hinako. As a dual girls talk, Sanae unexpected beings to go crazy—and, subsequent thing she knows, Hinako is whisked divided to a pleasing anticipation universe in a physique (and clothing) not utterly her own. Our heroine comes to accommodate a bizarre span of sisters named Yuzu and Lime who explain that she is a Reflector, a form of enchanting lady who has a energy to enter a dimension of humanity’s common alertness called a Common. There, Hinako contingency rescue a romantic Fragments of a other girls during her school, both to assistance them in their possess personal struggles, and to strengthen herself in sequence to urge a genuine universe opposite a entrance attacks of beings famous as Sephiroth.
Thus, both Hinako’s new life during Hoshinomiya and a diversion correct flog off. In concept, Blue Reflection could be described as arrange of Persona-lite. At school, Hinako can speak to other students, qualification friendships with a organisation of twelve other girls (who grow in significance as a story progresses), finish missions, excavate into a Common to find Fragments and conflict monsters, or extract in a tiny volume of activities during home any night.
Unfortunately, Blue Reflection cannot start to review to a latest collection of Persona titles when it comes to depth—and that is a game’s singular biggest flaw. Relationship-building is minimal once we accommodate any friend, as unresolved out means possibly a brief review with a choice that might allege a friendship, or travelling to a pointless place and examination a cutscene reveal with 0 interaction. Completing missions for a other girls during propagandize customarily involves elucidate their romantic problems by anticipating and purifying their Fragments, and they can get rather vapid due to a tiny volume of accumulation found in them (typically possibly murdering X volume of a sold rivalry or anticipating Y volume of object orbs). At-home choices like study for a test, creation a lunch date for a subsequent day, or relaxing in a night bath seem to offer no purpose in a bigger picture—they exist some-more to give players a clarity of Hinako vital a correct bland life.
On a gameplay level, quarrel is where Blue Reflection shows a many depth, and I’ll contend that we substantially enjoyed a technical aspects of battles here some-more than we have in any of Gust’s modern-era Atelier games. Things start elementary during first—you see an enemy, we conflict and kill it—but a complexity grows during a healthy and beguiling pace. While you’re watchful for your subsequent character’s turn, we can do things like bake “Ether” you’ve collected to revive HP/MP, or speed adult when your subsequent turns will come while negligence turns for a enemy. With adequate Ether, we also have options like going into Overdrive, where Hinako, Yuzu, or Lime can afterwards perform mixed actions on a same turn.
As well, as we solve a deeper issues of a game’s twelve categorical NPCs, we can move them in as supporters for pivotal fights, where any will perform a technique specific to their sold personalities. Those girls also support in battles in another way: by their Fragments. Every time a bond between Hinako and another lady grows, you’ll benefit a new Fragment of their emotion, any of that gives a sold form of boost when slotted into one of a categorical trio’s skills. (For example, one of Sanae’s Fragments will reanimate a impression when they use a sold ability that Fragment is trustworthy to.) In fact, deepening relations is a usually proceed Hinako, Yuzu, and Lime can spin up—no volume of harsh in a Common will get we any closer to your subsequent boost in stats.
I like a lot of aspects of Blue Reflection’s combat, generally those final dual points. You’ll always have proceed some-more skills and ability slots than Fragments, so meaningful what to use where—and that Fragments to clean once that ability opens up—is a good brew of devise and customization. I’m also a fool for games that take a opposite proceed to impression course over elementary XP, and Blue Reflection makes me consider behind to other games like Chrono Cross, where we could usually play during whatever gait we wanted and not worry if I’d be too low- or too high-leveled. Sadly, quarrel here is easier than it could have been, no doubt since this simply isn’t meant to be a knock-down-drag-out kind of RPG. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, really devise on bumping a game’s quarrel problem adult to tough in sequence to equivalent that somewhat.
Blue Reflection is a kind of diversion that tempts we as a reviewer to hit it for a faults, give in a intermediate score, and call it a day—but doing that would make me feel like a terrible chairman to some degree. Yes, a cube of what Gust attempted here possibly didn’t go distant adequate or came out a bit underwhelming, though there’s also some legitimate wonderfulness watchful next that inapt surface. While this is a story of 3 enchanting girls perplexing to quarrel behind an entrance evil, many some-more than that it’s a story of a unchanging bland lady perplexing to fit in during her propagandize and make those around her happy. Blue Reflection is distant some-more fascinating in a quieter moments, when you’re training about a other students during Hoshinomiya, who they are, and what problems they’ve buried low inside themselves. we always cared about a other girls as we set out to find their Fragments, and we came to like any one of them as they integrated themselves deeper into my bland life—including a ones we was certain I’d never get along with.
Blue Reflection reminds me so many of Japanese shoujo (girls) comics, even down to a proceed that any section is structured and a course of a altogether narrative. As a longtime shoujo manga fan, we know because people might not like a stuff: stories can feel overly thespian nonetheless simplistic, characters can come off like stereotypes, and it can seem like some-more time was spent on sketch flattering cinema than entrance adult with ways to reason a wider audience’s attention. That isn’t indeed a box with a lot of what I’ve read, however, and there’s some-more to it all if we usually open your heart to what a story is perplexing to do—and a same can be pronounced for Blue Reflection. That shoujo manga feel also heavily comes opposite in a game’s visuals, that are some of a many considerable I’ve ever seen come out of Gust. Now, let me be clear: on a technical level, we still consider a developer is sorely behind many other teams in putting together anything I’d truly call impressive. Visually, however, a manga character they’ve left with here works so perfectly, giving all a density and beauty like hand-drawn design that we don’t see a lot in other titles. Also, while they won’t put any fear into a folks during Atlus, user interface and menus are also intensely attractive. Its that mix of morality and character that I’m always so lustful of.
Honestly, I’ve no thought how Blue Reflection ever got localized. It baffles me that Koei Tecmo even motionless to take a possibility on this one in a West, and while I’d adore to protest about a blank Vita chronicle or a at-times disorderly translations, a fact that this even exists in English—and in earthy sell form, no less!—is kind of a miracle. This is a diversion that will really not be adult a alley of a whole lot of players out there, and even for those who do like a thought of what’s radically an interactive girls’ comic in RPG form, a weaknesses might be off putting during times. And yet, for that niche of people to whom Blue Reflection seems tailor-made, we inspire we to during slightest give it a possibility during some point. we could write 1500 some-more difference going into notation fact on all I’d change or repair about what we played, though we would still be usually as blissful that we had played it rather than not.