Imageepoch’s swan song magic.
It’s been a tumultuous time for the developers at the now defunct, “Imageepoch Inc.”
After all, the last few games they’ve released include titles such as “Time and Eternity” and “Criminal Girls Invite Only”.
The latter of which I consider to be one of the worst games I’ve reviewed here at ZTGD- it’s no wonder they’ve had trouble selling their games.
However, they’ve also released solid titles like the Luminous Arc series and Arc Rise Fantasia which was actually a great game, sabotaged by an atrocious localization.
Along comes Stella Glow, a spiritual successor to the Luminous Arc series that will serve as the final piece of legacy from the developers at Imageepoch that puts forth the very best they have to offer.
Tell me if you’ve heard of this before.
A boy with amnesia is adopted by a kind hearted family, a tragedy befalls their quaint little village, and the boy must go on an adventure to stop the evil that’s consuming the world.
Heard it before, you say?
Well, so have I.
There are some twists in the plot, but to call them predictable would be being kind, as I saw every plot thread unfolding before me within the first 30 minutes of the game.
Luckily, the character interactions themselves were mostly enjoyable, even though they followed most of the typical tropes and stereotypes set by other JRPGs.
As far as the gameplay goes, Stella Glow is a traditional turn based SRPG, with an isometric view of the map where characters move in panels.
It’s similar to other titles like Fire Emblem to some degree, as the isometric view shifts to a more dynamic combat view whenever an attack is made.
There’s the typical frontal, side, and back attacks along with different types of terrain having an effect on the movement and hit percentage of the attacks.
One unique element to Stella Glow is the inclusion of song magic, which expands a resource that builds up over time to unleash a map wide effect that can easily turn the tide of any hopeless battle.
There’s a song that heals all HP/SP and then continues to heal all HP each turn, and another song that basically stops all enemies in their tracks, unable to attack or move while increasing the party’s attack at the same time.
These effects are accompanied by a unique vocal track, which made the ordeal feel even more dramatic than it was already, and using them at the right time made all the difference in the world.
If I had a complaint about the combat, it would be that it often dragged on far too long, with one battle leading into another back to back to back- so long to the point I think I timed one battle sequence to something like two hours.
Outside of combat, time was spent on free fights I could trigger on the world map for more money/exp, and during the designated “Free Time”, I was able to converse with my party members to unlock new passive/active skills for them.
Consider it something like a very rudimentary social link system, where I can rank up my relationship with a party member to make them more useful in combat.
However, free time was actually quite limited, and even though I completely ignored everything else I could do with the limited time outside of leveling up my relationships, I could hardly get one character to their maximum relationship level before the game was on its last chapter.
In New Game+ it becomes much quicker to do basically anything, so it felt as though I was forced to dig into New Game+ to see how these relationships would play out.
There’s two endings and multiple character specific epilogues in this rather lengthy game that took me roughly 35 hours to complete, so there’s a lot of content here to enjoy.
While the story is a bit too predictable for my tastes, everything from the visuals to the combat felt very polished from beginning to end. It’s quite unfortunate that this is likely the last game Imageepoch will release, but perhaps they will rest well knowing that they went out on a high note.
Fun Tidbit – You can actually get the True Ending on your first playthrough, and while I won’t spoil how to do that, I would recommend you make a hard save at around chapter 6-7 and never overwrite it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.