Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a gorgeous action RPG from developer Enigami. It originated on Kickstarter and despite having a launch window of 2015, it definitely took its sweet time in getting released. In this process, it feels like the original pitch for the game was expanded upon as the independent developer Enigami was able to acquire a publisher for it.
The game’s story is based on a manga developed by Samir Rebab who is also the creative director behind this game. The story begins with the introduction of two of the main characters, cat-like creatures called Wakis who go by the name of Chado and Poky. They are seen flying their boat which appears to be in trouble due to unforeseen events, leading to a crash-landing that prompts Poky to jump ship separating him from Chado. As Chado regains consciousness after the crash, he is met with a tiny flying fairy called Terra who will help the player throughout the game’s several locations.
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is inspired by popular Japanese games particularly Tales of series, Final Fantasy series and even Naruto Shippuden series for its combat. The combat is purely action based where the focus is placed on Parry, Counter and Dodge Roll. Infact the game doesn’t shy away from urging the player to utilize the combat to their fullest in every encounter. There is a hint of a fighting game mechanic in the game’s combat system where the health bars of the enemy and the player are placed on the screen just like in a fighting game. The combat moves also chain similarly in a way which allows the player to rely on their reflexes in order to execute damage on the enemies. At the end of the battle, the game rewards the player a ranking along with the usual loot and experience points. This urges us to perform better in combat in order to get a better ranking.
While Shiness has a pretty fun combat system, it is not without its flaws. Since it works like a fighting game, it is possible to button mash our way to victory. Even though the game does have some challenging encounters, the parry and roll make it far too easy to cheese through the fights. Of course, there are some boss fights that are tough as nails and will require the player to exploit their elemental weakness or formulate a proper strategy, still I wouldn’t really consider it a hard game. There are multiple party members available to control in the game and each of them can be controlled with their unique skills in battle leading to some interesting encounters.
While the combat and the art style is the highlight for Shiness, it unfortunately fails in some key aspects. Exploration often feels like it is lacking since the sidequests are terrible and the optional content in the game doesn’t come close to other games. Another aspect that I hated was the platforming, which can be cumbersome at times. While it was nice to see that the developers have added a jump button, I never expected them to use it for platforming. I mean I don’t mind platforming in my RPGs but the focus should be clearly on the story, characters and the combat. The platforming also feels clunky thanks to the controls and the camera has a tendency to jerk at times, leading to some frustrating moments.
Shiness also utilizes some light puzzle mechanics that rely on the skills of each of the cast of characters. Chado can summon a rock that can be used to keep a button pressed. Poky can link crystals using spirit energy with his wrench. These so called puzzles are a part of the exploration aspect in the game and often feel like they are tacked on, which means you won’t get any satisfaction in attempting them. Again this could have been something that worked well if they were integrated properly in the game but unfortunately they end up being too cumbersome and as a result, add some frustration to the game.
The visuals of the game looked great on the PS4 and it is something that I appreciated as I played more of the game. There are gorgeous environments throughout the celestial islands as we progress through the story, however it also feels like the visuals are inconsistent with some flat textures seen during exploration. I have no idea if the game support PS4 Pro but it looked really slick and clean on it, thanks to its animated art style. This is one aspect of the game that won’t disappoint others unless you are not a fan of the anthropomorphic animal characters art style.
The story is presented in the form of manga styled cutscenes that feature gorgeous artwork. While it is not exactly a good story or a game with memorable characters, I would call it serviceable. The problem is that there are just too many good games released this year that it is hard to not compare them to Shiness, especially since it also aims to be an RPG that is inspired by them. In term of the replay value and the length of content featured in the game, there isn’t really a lot to do here. It can take somewhere between 15 to 30 hours if you plan to finish the game and if you ignore most of the side content, it is possible to finish it quickly. This might be good for those who prefer a shorter RPG instead of one that requires a lot of time.
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Shiness is a Role Playing Game which will let you dive into a new adventure across Sky Islands on a journey through an enthralling universe which on the verge of collapsing.
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a solid effort to tackle the RPG genre from an independent studio. Unfortunately, it also ends up being too ambitious for its own good. As a new game from an independent studio, it is arguably an admirable job and bodes well for the future of the developer.