Gust tried Persona…in their own way.
Gust has made some pretty decent RPGs in my time as a reviewer. I was actually a fan of the Atelier games on PS3 – even if the content wasn’t my cup of tea per se, I can still see a fun RPG underneath the surface. It’s been years since I played a Gust game, but I’m now taking a stab at Blue Reflection, a new IP from Gust. While it still holds a lot of the slice of life stuff I’m not a big fan of, it has a simple, yet decent RPG underneath it all.
Players take on the role of new student Hinako, who has just arrived at her new high school. Almost immediately, she is teleported to a strange world outside of time and reality known as The Common. Here, she becomes a powerful warrior who must fight off monsters that threaten the emotions of living people in the real world. She and her new school friends team up to stop all the monsters in The Common in hopes that their one true wish will be granted.
Platforms: PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $25
As one might be able to tell, Blue Reflection takes some pretty big cues from Atlus’ Persona series, and it’s pretty obvious that it has influenced the content of this game. That’s totally fine, and it has its own spin to the story. On top of that, since these are cutesy school girls, it feels more like an episode of Sailor Moon than anything else. They even have the transformation animations when going into The Common.
The RPG elements come into play through the combat and the stat tracking. This is a turn-based RPG with some rather simple rules. For one, all HP and MP are recovered to full at the end of a fight. In fact, one does not even need to worry about useable items in this game. The party members have their own restorative powers that can be used. The main crux of the combat is the time flow. Much like in Grandia, each party member and enemy are waiting for their turn in battle. There are numerous abilities that can be used to delay or knock back the enemy’s turn on the turn line. This is the main strategy to the combat, and while simple, it works and works well. On top of that, players can charge up their ether ( main source of magic use) to activate an Overdrive mode where players have a single party member issue numerous attacks the same turn for lots of damage and turn knockback.
They can also call upon allies in battle that will offer up follow up attacks and supports when attacking at certain points in the battle. Players will gain items via battle and creation that come in many different forms. Most of them can add a modifier to an already known attack that can aid the user in battle. So a damage attack could also end up healing the user if equipped with the right ability.
Hinako and her other two party members can level up and have attribute points put into four main areas – strength, defense, speed, and magic. Putting points into certain attributes will not only improve the character in that area, but they will also learn new abilities and attacks once a certain threshold is hit.
The combat itself was never difficult, in fact, I would say it was downright easy. Even the large boss fights, while time consuming, weren’t difficult in the least. I could tell Gust wasn’t focusing on making a hardcore RPG, but was focusing on a story and the characters in it.
The other portion of the game is the school life, where players will have to socialize and solve problems with their friends and acquaintances in order to both gain strength in allies and progress the story. Unlike Persona, players are actually timed for most of this, and while doing things with people aren’t the most rewarding for the RPG parts, it does offer a lot of the “slice of life” story bits that most people playing this game will be looking for.
In the end, I feel like Blue Reflection had some good things going for it. I didn’t mind the story even if it was a bit melodramatic more times than not, and the combat was in the right place, I just wish it would have offered up more of a challenge. Obviously, this is not a game for everybody, and the game knows its audience and caters to it the best way it can. Still, many fans of this style of game will find it overly simplistic and not difficult at all. While I enjoyed my time with it for the most part, there were still a few times I rolled my eyes at the things on screen. That’s going to happen with me in these games. Still, the target audience for Blue Reflection will enjoy it for the most part, although it may very well be too simple for their tastes.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.