If you ever looked at the Persona series and thought it could use less combat and more magical girls, Blue Reflection might be just what you need. Although its RPG aspect is somewhat weak, Blue Reflection’s character interactions make it an enjoyable experience nevertheless.
Platform: PC (reviewed), PS4
MonsterVine was provided with a PC code for review.
When ballet prodigy Hinako Shirai has an accident that makes her unable to dance ever again, she struggles to move on with her life. On her first day back at school, however, she finds herself transported into an alternate world known as the Common.
Hinako is a Reflector, someone who gains special powers when she enters the Common and can stabilize people’s emotional Fragments to protect them from demons. Not only does her Reflector transformation change her appearance, it also gives her the ability to use her leg freely again. When her fellow Reflectors, Yuzu and Lime, tell her the person who defeats the demons can have any single wish granted, Hinako decides to protect the world in exchange for healing her leg permanently. Despite some typos and unclear explanations, the story and character interactions are the high point of Blue Reflection.
The game is largely divided between the real world and the Common. In the real world, you can speak with the other girls at school, have conversations with your friends to increase your bond level, and invite a friend to spend time with you after school. These interactions not only lead to important (and often cute) scenes between the characters, but also grant you skill points to level up. Some also give you Fragments, which can be attached to your skills to grant additional effects. After school, you decide how to spend your time. This feature is poorly explained, but some choices lead to humorous scenes, others give you a stat bonus the next day, and one (the bath) is just for fanservice. Hinako also has a smartphone you can use to access additional conversations with your friends and even play a simplified monster-raising game.
You’re given side missions to complete in between story sections, and you must complete a certain number to advance the plot. However, since the plot won’t progress until you report back to Yuzu and Lime, you can effectively spend as much time as you want on non-story content. This is great if you love the friendship-focused stories that make up the bulk of the game, because you can relax and enjoy the character interactions. On the other hand, it also helps to make a weak RPG system even weaker.
For the story and side missions, you’ll travel to the Common. This usually comes down to nothing more than defeating certain enemies or picking up items, even in story missions, where you collect items to “find” Fragments. The Common has beautiful environments, but is rather boring to explore. There are only a few similarly-designed areas in each section, and there is no incentive to look around–no secrets to find or goals to reach. Since each section of the Common is based on an emotion, the most interesting part is seeing how the areas combine when multiple emotions are at work. Combat is handled through turn-based battles. It’s a fairly basic system, although it does have some unique features, such as Overdrive, which allows you to perform multiple moves per turn. However, your HP and MP are fully restored after each battle, so there’s nothing to stop you from wiping out enemies with your most powerful moves. And since you level up from social interactions rather than combat, it’s extremely easy to become overpowered. This is fine if you want to hurry through enemy encounters, but it means you can quickly remove what little challenge there is.
Battles against the Sephirot, the most powerful demons, are a bit more engaging. In these battles, you also make use of your friendships to chain additional abilities from the other characters to your own attacks. It’s still not particularly hard, but it’s a lot of fun—especially since a good combination of Fragments, supporters, and using multiple attacks through the Ether Charge system can lead to you dealing devastating damage and healing allies in a single turn.
The story gets into some serious topics at times, such as whether it’s acceptable to manipulate people’s emotions in the real world to gain more power for fighting demons, but in general it’s lighthearted and cute in both tone and appearance. The enemy designs are also sufficiently alien and bizarre to stand out from typical JRPG monsters. I particularly liked the designs of the Sephirot, which are generally not lighthearted or cute at all. Their horrifically out-of-place appearances just help cement them as abominations that need to be driven from the world.
Unfortunately, the PC version of Blue Reflection suffered from technical issues at launch, including a severe glitch halfway through the game that prevented progress. These issues were eventually fixed.
The Final Word
The modicum of fanservice in Blue Reflection (mainly in the form of bath scenes and and wet shirts on rainy days), didn’t sway me one way or another, and neither did the combat. Building sweet friendships, and living high school life against a backdrop of fighting demons, make it worth it on their own.The RPG combat lacks challenge and exploration is almost nonexistent, but Blue Reflection still pulls through with cute character interactions and an intriguing story.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 3.5 out of 5 – Fair