Stella Glow (Nintendo 3DS) Second Opinion Review

By Drew Hurley 22.12.2017 1

Review for Stella Glow on Nintendo 3DS

Developer imageepoch may not have produced a huge catalogue of games before its bankruptcy caused its demise in 2015, but it had some titles to its name that built up solid fan bases. It helped keep the FATE series alive with FATE/Extra before it was funded by mobile gaming whales on FGO and also created the dodgy dungeon crawling Criminal Girls games. It is most well known for the Final Fantasy Tactics style JRPG series Luminous Arc (the final game of which the West is still waiting on!). Stella Glow is the company's swansong and it went out doing what it knew best.

Stella Glow is set in a quaint generic fantasy world, filled with swords and goblins, knights and spears, a protagonist with amnesia, and witches who are persecuted for their strange abilities. That memory-lacking protag is named Alto and he lives in a quiet little village with his potential love interest Lisette, daughter of the family who took him in after he split into his forgetful fuge, in relative peace until a witch pops over for some crooning chaos. This witch, Hilda, is known as the witch of destruction and is able to lock things away in crystal with her magical powers of song. Luckily, the Queen's elite knights arrive in time to save Alto and Lisette but their people and family are lost to the crystal prison of Hilda's melody.

Screenshot for Stella Glow on Nintendo 3DS

Hilda is travelling the land crystallising everything she can and Alto and Lisette are soon joining the Queen's forces in an effort to stop them. The only way to do so is to unite four "good" witches to undo Hilda's spell, one of which turns out to be Lisette. It also transpires Alto has a secret past linked to the witches and their songs, giving him unique abilities to see into the witches' hearts, something that becomes the focus for saving the world. The core of the story all feels rather safe and familiar; the type of story told countless times before in anime and RPGs both. However, as the game progresses, there are some real surprises. Both allies and enemies have reasons for their actions and rarely are actions cut and dry, black and white.

Beneath the story, this is a classic turn-based strategy JRPG here, and fans of games like Devil Survivor and the various other aforementioned titles will find a lot to like here. Alto travels the land with the Royal Knights, and budding witch Lisette, recruiting a diverse cast, including other witches and a myriad of other characters, each with some original designs both in personality and their appearance. Each character initially feels like a collection of various anime tropes, but as Alto gets to know them during the quiet time between missions and increases his affinity with each, the characters become easy to like.

Screenshot for Stella Glow on Nintendo 3DS

Original is apt for their characters in battles, too. Every character has its own unique abilities and place on the team. Deciding who to take on each mission is key; a sharp-shooting merchant who is able to pick the locks of chests and doors, a water witch with the strongest healing abilities, a heavily armoured knight who can absorb the most ferocious of blows, and so on. The battles themselves play out on various isometric grid stages set out across the map of the land. As with Luminous Arc, placement is imperative, and utilising line of sight, or even blocking enemies in can drastically alter a battle, whilst attacking from the rear or side can also greatly increase damage given, and the area of effect abilities can hit ally and enemy both. The game isn't particularly challenging, however, strategy in regards to the landscape and team composition is needed if to achieve not only victory but also two "bonus objectives" that are available on every stage.

The game is split in a similar fashion to Atlus releases, with missions happening at regular intervals, but between them is "Free Time," which can be spent either partaking in jobs or in spending time with the recruited members of the cast to increase their bond. There are unique endings for each character to work towards and recruited mages can be "Tuned" by Alto's special ability in a way reminiscent of the Persona story elements of Shadows and "other selves." Diving into the witch's heart and banishing darker versions of the character.

Screenshot for Stella Glow on Nintendo 3DS

The presentation of the game is utterly charming, with appropriate use of the 3DS' dual screens, splitting the action and the menus across the two well. The soundtrack is a real highlight, filled with catchy themes, the best of which being the witches' songs themselves, made up of upbeat J-Pop melodies that feel completely out of place but are nevertheless enjoyable. On the art side, chibified 3D character models battle it out within missions and vibrant 2D sprites are used during character interaction story moments. There are some issues during missions, with scenery getting in the way of the camera, simplified animations, and no way to significantly increase the speed of battles, but each is rather forgivable.

Screenshot for Stella Glow on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The amnesiac hero, a stoic knight who is all business, tsundere girls, and a harem of ladies to romance - it seems this is going to be one in a million other anime style cliché and trope-y JRPGs at first, but for those who stick with Stella Glow, they will find so much more. There is a ton of content here, too, with easily 30 hours in the base game, and then there are heaps of side-quests, a huge cast of characters to level, loads of endings to see, and best of all a New Game Plus to utilise in seeing all this has to offer. Just what a JRPG fan would want and easily the best thing that imageepoch created.

Developer

imageepoch

Publisher

Atlus

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 None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   

Comments

Del_Duio (guest) 22.12.2017#1

Great game, but the battles play out VERY slowly. Much slower than most tactical RPGs I've played like Tactics Ogre or FFT.

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