Gust has developed quite a fan following with their Atelier series but they aren’t really known for their work with new IPs. Their most recent effort with a new IP was Nights of Azure and it ended up rather mediocre compared to their other games. Blue Reflection is another new IP developed by Gust and so far from what I have played of their games, it is one of their better developed games with an simple premise backed by some fun but easy battle mechanics. The game seems to be inspired from magical girl shows like Card Captor Sakura and Sailor Moon and seems to offer similar vibes with its story and gameplay.
Blue Reflection’s main protagonist is Hinako Shirai. She used to be a ballet dancer until she suffered through an accident and due to an injury to her knees, she is now no longer able to attend ballet dance. She is enrolled in the Hoshinomiya Girls High School where the majority of the game takes place. The game begins as one day Hinako encounters two unlikely girls who give her a ring letting her wield the power of a ‘reflector’. Hinako along with her other girls with similar powers has to team up to save the world from terrible creatures called Sephirot (Not the one from Final Fantasy VII). I will be candid about the plot and just say that it simply isn’t that great. While the actual premise is not that bad, the execution of the narrative and the story beats are terrible and feel like they are overplayed. But beneath it all, some of the writing is actually done fairly decently so the whole experience is not that bad.
The school works like in the Persona series but with limited control over the camera and the places you can visit. You can also access a mini map which lets you fast travel to important locations. In case you are feeling lost and have to decide where to go, this map can come in handy. Each story is set as a chapter which features someone from the school with a problem usually related to the social issues that they face in their every day life. It is up to Hinako to help them and this is accomplished by travelling to an alternative dimension called The Common. It is here that you will be able to help the troubled girls by fighting monsters and helping locate their emotional fragments.
The story tends to be feel disjointed thanks to its focus on chapter based scenario. Each chapter usually ends with saving the life of someone making it feel like you are watching a TV Show. Some of the more important story related elements are put to the sideline and no proper explanation or time is given in setting them which might prove to be irritating for those looking to dig deeper into the story. The gameplay loop tends to feel repetitive and some of the tasks and battles can end up being monotonous depending on how much you can get out of the battle system.
Speaking of the battle system, it is a turn-based battle system where you can see the turns of both your team mates as well as the opponent. I guess it can be seen as similar to Final Fantasy X with its turn-based system. You can perform a normal attack or a special attack moves on the enemy that can knockback them so you will end up with more turns and push the enemy further away from getting a turn. The attacks also differ in term of execution with some offering certain status effects while others ending up with an area-of-effect attack that hits multiple enemies.
The developers have tried to keep the battle fresh by adding some mechanics like the support party members or the overdrive feature but the game is usually too easy that you can defeat most of the major bosses with a standard strategy. The supporting party members can also feel a little redundant because healing can be performed through any party member with their support skills. The support from party members is not just restricted to healing though and depending on the party member, they can range from stat boosting effects to adding one additional attack to the enemy. You can also perform some special attacks that cost you MP and as the battle ends, you will be able to replenish both MP and HP.
The battle system is still a lot of fun if you can learn to use it effectively. Knockback along with area-of-effect can make short work of most enemies while you can use the experience points that you get after level up to raise the stats of each of your party member. You will gain more members as you progress further in the story and have the choice to pick a team before taking a trip to the alternative dimension.
When you are not fighting these monsters, you will be spending your life as a high school girl. You can get a cell phone that lets you keep track of missions or talk with your other party members. It also features a monster raising mini game although I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I had hoped. Overall though, the content here feels a bit sparse and the game could have easily done with a more focused approach.
Blue Reflection Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Blue Reflection is a role-playing video game developed by Gust Co. Ltd. It was published by Koei Tecmo in March 2017 in Japan for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, and is planned for release in September 2017 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows.
Blue Reflection doesn't offer much as an RPG but it does carry a certain charm. The gameplay loop can get repetitive while the customization and combat system are fairly simple. The art style might make it feel like a typical slice of life anime but the game attempts to target the magical girl genre with its gameplay.