Blue Reflection (PC) Review

By Brandon Howard 26.09.2017 4

Review for Blue Reflection on PC

The final game in Gust's "Beautiful Girl's Festival" project, Blue Reflection is an RPG that knows its target audience. It's full of subtext, it's got soft, luminous visuals, and from the very start it's obviously a Gust RPG. It's also very obviously taken some cues from the Persona series, but there might just be a few flashes of brilliance worth looking into. Cubed3 takes on the new release on PC from Koei Tecmo here in Europe.

Blue Reflection gets one thing right from the get go, and it does that by dropping the main character, Hinako Shirai, right into the action. On her first day in a new all-girls academy after a tragic ballet accident, she's whisked away to an unknown world filled with monsters. She will soon learn that she is a "Reflector," a girl with the power to connect to the emotions of others, and use those bonds to fight monsters in a world called the "Common."

In this school, people's strong emotions can run out of control, feeding the power of monsters that live in the Common, a world that reflects the unconscious thoughts of others. Hinako, whose dreams of being a ballet star were cut short, is recruited by fellow students, Yuzu and Lime, to help prevent the rampaging monsters of the Common from spilling over into the real world.

Screenshot for Blue Reflection on PC

Hinako, Yuzu and Lime make up the core party while exploring the Common, which can be reached by diving into the minds of their fellow students. Each dungeon is themed around the emotions that the group is currently trying to connect with, but they are overall pretty basic. The layouts are frequently repeated, and the enemy placement is fairly predictable.

Combat is quite straightforward, as well. Each party member fully regenerates their health and magic power after each battle, so they are more or less free to go all out with powerful area of effect skills, buffs, and healing abilities. Battles run on a timeline, with characters acting in order of their speed, and certain actions allowing them to act faster at the cost of some damage, or vice versa. It's easy to take advantage of this system, but it's not the only way to gain an advantage while duking it out in the Common.

While Hinako and company are the only characters that act as Reflectors, taking a direct role in combat, they are far from being the only ones to contribute. Each major character the party connects with can connect with each other, strengthening skills, or acting as powerful finishers in some of the more powerful combination attacks.

Screenshot for Blue Reflection on PC

"Bonds" are a major theme in how these characters become stronger. In fact, you will never see a point of experience from combat; rather, Hinako levels up as you bond with other characters outside of combat, or by completing specific objectives inside the Common. The player can then guide how each character can gain stats, affecting what skills they learn as they pass certain thresholds. It gives a great deal of freedom in balancing and building the party, and it's a lot of fun to mess around with the various skill combinations.

While a lot of the systems are reminiscent of the Persona series, the day to day events are a lot less rigid when it comes to completing them. Hinako can essentially complete as many events and relationship paths as are currently available to her, including any that require the party to dive into the Common. It puts a lot less pressure on the need to figure out a schedule, but it can make individual acts of the game feel very long.

The pacing ends up feeling like an issue that plagues a lot of the adventure, though. While the first two acts pass by fairly quickly, the third drags on for quite a while longer, and the full systems are all explained throughout conversations with the side members who aid the party. Travelling to and from the Common is also kind of a pain after a while. The party itself is pretty interesting, but a lot of the random side characters, whose problems you explore, just aren't quite as captivating.

Screenshot for Blue Reflection on PC

Still, it's easy to become invested in the main cast. While a lot of the individual character arcs wrap up pretty quickly, Hinako's journey to get her life's dream back on track is genuinely compelling. Yuzu and Lime provide a good balance to her character, offering a good mix of comic relief and compelling drama in their own way.

Still, Blue Reflection isn't afraid to explore themes a little deeper than that of the average Gust title. It's still a little prone to fan-service and pandering, but it's also surprisingly adept at tackling some of the struggles of early adolescence. It borrows a lot from the tropes associated with JRPGs and the magical girl genre of anime, but it executes them in a way that's uniquely its own.

There's a lot to like about Blue Reflection and the score, in particular, is worth calling attention to. It's incredible just how well done the soundtrack is. The animation might feel a little choppier but, overall, this is a very beautiful title, from the sounds to the sights. It's definitely held back a bit by poor pacing and a rather bland combat system, yet on the whole Blue Reflection is a pleasant surprise.

Screenshot for Blue Reflection on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Blue Reflection is a solid, if somewhat fanservice-y, JRPG that suffers from some poor pacing issues. The characters themselves are decently fleshed out, and it's worth sticking with them to see how their arcs develop, even if there is a lot to keep track of. The skill customisation is a lot of fun to mess around with, but combat is the weakest part. Despite the excellent combat tracks, most battles feel like a drawn-out exhibition more than anything else. As one of Gust's best titles in years, however, it's definitely worth checking out.

Developer

Gust

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This sounds really interesting, espiceally the leveling system.  I don't believe I've played any titles by Gust, but this one sounds really good. Might be a dumb question, but are the story lines in the "Beautiful Girls Festival" project interconnected, or can you play them in any order you like without getting too confused?

I really wish Gust would go back to the Mana Khemia series... Smilie

They're all unconnected. On of the Atelier games was in it too. Just a campaign name of sorts.

Cool, good to know.

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