This game is beautiful! Blue Reflection is an RPG developed by Gust Co. Ltd. It was published by Koei Tecmo in March 2017 in Japan for the PS4 and PSVita, and was released in September 2017 in North America and Europe for the PS4 and Microsoft Windows.
The art work that has gone into this Anime title certainly is something to behold. I sat there in amazement at it, but at the same time, in shock for reasons I cant agree with within a computer game. I will get on to that in a while, but for now, more about the game.
Blue Reflection focuses on the story of Hinako, a former child ballet star who starts a new high school. She discovers that she’s a Reflector, the game’s version of a magical girl, along with her new friends, Yuzu and Lime. As the story unfolds we learn of a parallel world, The Common, where monsters feed off emotions. Hinako and her friends must use the power of friendship to defeat the evil Sephirot and save the world.
Things start off promisingly. The game is aesthetically pleasing and we take control (eventually) of the main character to learn about the games various fight mechanisms. The game is heavily story based and there is a lot of text that you have to read through before you can take control for a few minutes before sitting back again to read through more cut scenes. I say read as the games characters speak Japanese and there is no way of changing that, so you have to read the English subtitles, which always distracts from what is happening on screen. It does keep the game feeling authentic to the whole Anime feel, but I would have liked to have been able to change the language within the settings.
The main problem with the games feel is that the atmosphere of Blue Reflection becomes very stale. Yes, the games beautiful soundtracks instills a feeling of calm which matches the colour pallet within the game, but its stays that way throughout. I would have liked the music to ramp up a little when it came to boss fights, or even when you move from zone to zone within The Common – each zone represents happiness, fear, sorrow, and anger – a slightly different soundtrack for each would have been great to add to the ambiance.
Now, I’ve never been an Anime fan and have never attempted to watch any of the movies or various series that there are so many fans of out there, but if this game is anything to go by, I most definitely wont be starting any time soon either. My major issue with this game is the overly misogynistic sexualisation of young girls. The characters are school girls who start out in their already skimpy uniforms, but when they have to fight against creatures they change outfits through a sequence where the uniforms disappear leaving them naked until their new clothes appear. These outfits certainly don’t leave much to the imagination and are a dream come true for a spotty teenager who has just discovered what his ‘joystick’ is for. This game will certainly sell; there’s no doubt about that; but as the father of a 14 year old girl, I felt extremely uncomfortable playing it.
Moving on then from the purposeful low camera angles and focus on anything than the characters faces, the game itself gets boring very fast. There is no real skill involved in playing and indeed finishing the game; I get the feeling that this was just a stage to play out someones fantasy, but to make it legitimate there had to be some form of fighting involved. Once you have learnt all the various forms of working together with your team, everything else is easy. It feels like its the same boring repetitive game-play rehashed over and over again and doesn’t progress from walking around and killing a few things.
If there was a challenge to the game, I could forgive certain things that irritate me about the game; not all, just some. There isn’t. The battle system feels like a wasted opportunity for the developers. So many other games have incorporated the system within their games and have done it so much better. There is a gauge which fills up during fights to give you a boost of attacks which makes winning way too easy. I didn’t die once through the whole game.
In summary, I personally wouldn’t recommend this game to anyone. I will give it a 4/10 and that is purely based on some very nice animation (avoiding my serious concerns above). There is way too many subtitled cut-scenes which get very annoying and you find yourself skipping through a lot of them and do miss out on some of the story.