Review: Blue Reflection Second Light
Blue Reflection, Second Light is a sequel to Blue Reflection, originally released on PS4 and PS Vita. The game is an action RPG with a big focus on slice of life. The game is made by Gust and published by Koei Tecmo and costs 59.99 for the standard edition. The release date is November 9th and is playable on PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox and PC.
The game puts you in the feet of Ao Hoshizaki, a Japanese high school student who doesn't consider her special herself. She finds her life boring and average. Until one day, on her way to summer school, she is transported to a new dimension. She ends up at an academy floating on an endless ocean, where she meets Kokoro Utsubo and Yuki Kinjou. They are stuck, memoryless, in this dimension.
After spending a few days there, a trail to a new world emerges, which the girls call the heartscape. Within this world, several monsters roam. To survive this world they must defeat the monsters. Fortunately, upon arrival in this dimension, they were given special rings. When they have to fight, by thinking of a feeling, weapons appear.
During one of the trips to this world they come across a crystal, a memory crystal. This represents one of Kokoro's memories. This convinces the girls to go deeper into the heartscape, looking for Kokoro's memories and further answers about this strange world.
With the storyline I can be very short, you are playing an anime. Of course, this doesn't have to say much about the quality of the story. There are plenty of examples of animes that tell a very good story. Of course there are also plenty of bad storylines to be found in it. These tropes within that medium are clearly in it. If you are not really into anime, this will be a point to get over.
The topics in the story are sweet and realistic. But perhaps also quite cliche. For example, a girl who is being bullied is one of the subjects. Something that actually comes up in every dramatic anime. And that doesn't have to be a bad thing, bullying is a problem that certainly continues to this day. It is therefore a pity that they write such a backstory as a cliché. So don't expect many innovative twists.
Fortunately, the gameplay in Blue Reflection, Second Light is the reason why you play the game. You can divide the gameplay into two parts. The first part is life at the academy. This acts as the main hub of the game. Here you can craft items for the adventures in the heartscape, talk and go on dates with the game's characters, receive quests and assemble buildings. Those buildings ensure that your characters bond in different ways. In other words, the slice of life part of the game.
For the people who like that I have to say that this part of the game is quite well put together. The characters have quite a lot of dialogue and there are some nice moments in between. It also has a hand-holding mechanic. That shows up when Ao is very, very good friends with another character. For the people who find that less interesting, I would recommend using the auto function of the conversations. Especially since Ao himself gets upgrade points by bonding with the different side characters.
Second, you have the heartscape levels. Here you collect materials you need for your items and buildings, fight against monsters and search for the lost memories of the characters. The worlds are loosely based on the experiential worlds of the characters. For example, Kokoro is a “country girl” and her heartscape resembles rural Japan.
The reason you enter the heartscape is mainly to seek resources for the academy. This can be food, but also building materials for facilities, for example. In addition, a large part of the storyline also takes place here, because you are looking for the lost memories of the characters. How you find these is quite creative.
While adventuring, you can defeat the monsters using different tactics. First, a monster may come at you. This gives him an ether advantage in battle. In addition, you can start the battle yourself by hitting him. You can also give a sneak attack in the back or even sneak around it.
The fights are kind of a mix between turn-based and real-time combat. You have a bar at the bottom of the UI called the ether meter. Ether is a point system that determines which moves you can use. In addition to those points, ether also has a “gear” system. The gears are like levels that unlock heavier attacks as the battle progresses.
When a character reaches gear three, they turn into a reflector, a sort of magical girl version of themselves. The attacks in this gear outweigh when they are not a reflector. In the end, a character can enter into a one-on-one battle with a monster, which makes the battle a lot faster. After you have enough ether you can use a one-on-one finisher that deals high damage to your enemy. So quite exciting.
The heartscape is the reason why I would play this game. The combat is fun and the way you deal with the monsters is tactical. Collecting the materials for crafting can feel quite grindy, but it really is in every game. The memories make these levels anyway. They really do encourage you to venture deeper into the levels.
Visuals, music & art direction
Blue reflection, second light is a weird chick in terms of art direction. At times, the assets coincide in a very beautiful way. But at other times it looks like a quickly merged unity game. The worst thing that took me out of the game was the rush of Kokoro's level. Everything was so close together that I really didn't know where to look.
In addition, the monsters in this game were so far outside the style of the game that they no longer fit in the game. They looked so cliché that they might as well have come from an asset bank. A pity, because the characters have certainly received the necessary design attention.
The music in this game doesn't do much better either, the music loops are generically repetitive. Since you constantly hear the same tune, it quickly starts to irritate. Too bad, because music largely carries the atmosphere of a game.
Blue Reflection, Second Light leaves me with a lot of mixed feelings. So much so that when I write it I doubt whether I have been too strict. That's why I'm going to give the game a point for two possible people who can play this game
The first is someone who is already very much into the world of anime. If you enjoy slice of life, exaggerated cuteness and also love action JRPGs, this can be an entertaining game. I warn you about the story, don't expect them to do much exciting with the plot. It has a lot of tropes that you actually see in every anime. For this person I would give the game a safe seven. Mainly because the gameplay is quite good and the story follows a familiar line.
The second is someone who fancy a JRPG with a little more action and a fun story. For these people I say straight up that the game is not going to be worth 59.99.-. Although the combat is quite fun and entertaining, the rest actually lags behind. The slice of life is present in excess. Beware of this if you don't feel like endless side dialogues. In addition, the dates will not really be for everyone. The themes of the story are also likely to feel like typical anime. Fortunately, the depth you get from characters is there, but don't look for it in the main part of the story. For this gamer I give the game a 5. Not the best game for you.
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