PUBLISHER: Koei Tecmo America
PLATFORM: PC, PS4
RELEASE DATE: 9/26/17
Blue Reflection is a new IP for Gust the developers of the well known “Atelier” series. This game also marks the debut of Mel Kishida as creative lead on a game. If his name doesn’t sound familiar he is well known in the manga,anime, and game industry for his character design work on Hanasaku Iroha, Heaven’s Memo Pad, Red Data Girl, and the Arland Atelier trilogy. His work on Blue Reflection is simply beautiful and amazing!
Blue Reflection is a story about magical girls, depression, fear, hate, passion, sorrow, and how you can overcome all of those with the support of friends. The game starts out with Hinako Shirai attending her first day at Hoshinomiya Girls High School, due to reasons beyond her control she is starting much later than the other students. Ballet is her one passion in life, but a knee injury takes that all away from her. Depressed and alone, Hinako feels that if she can no longer dance, she is better off dead.
As Hinako is talking to a fellow student in the hallway, she notices a strange aura around the girl. She is immediately transported into a dream-like world and transformed into a magical girl where she is physically fit and no longer suffers from her knee injury. After a brief introduction to this world she returns to reality where she meets Yuzu and Lime, two classmates that explain that she is a “Reflector” and that the world is under attack by demons called Sephirot. In order to save the world these three girls must collect Fragments which are crystallized emotions that appear in the other world known as The Common. Once these crystallized emotions are stabilized they can be equipped to any of the three girls to enhance their combat abilities.
As you progress through the story helping your fellow classmates through their emotional troubles, you will form bonds with them that will serve as the power by which our three Reflectors use to fend of the Sephirot.
The story alone stands out so much in this game for the way it portrays the varying emotional setbacks that these high school girls deal with. The story writing is raw, honest and very emotional. How many games can you name that deal with the way a young girl feels when her parents are divorcing and arguing about who she will live with, or the young girl being labeled a slut just because she cares about the way she looks? So many realistic emotional issues are addressed in this game that I was awed by how much it felt like I was reading a manga or watching an anime. It is remarkable on how authentic the story feels and how many times it brought a tear to my eyes.
The story is told in a visual novel-like way where at times your answers to questions and situations will improve your friendships. The rest of your school day is played in a Persona-like way where you divide your time between increasing your friendships, helping your fellow classmates deal with their issues, and completing missions in The Commons stabilizing Fragments and fighting demons. In your spare time you can also listen to music, play a mini-game and chat with your friends through your mobile app.
The art style and character design is gorgeous and gives the game a very ethereal-like feel to it. The real world environment is filled with the mundane colors you would expect to see in in real life, but The Common is filled with a brightly colored palette in every section of the world. The Magical Girl transformations are like a scene out of Sailor Moon and done so beautifully.
The battle system is your typical JRPG turn-based combat without the need for grinding as the level up system is done through earning points from your side missions and raising your friendships. So in most instances when you have to travel to The Commons its for a quick 15 minute timespan as once your mission is accomplished you can leave. Of course the materials you need to craft and to enhance your gems come from fragments and demon drops, so you may want to spend some extra time there gathering materials.
The focus of the game is in the story and will draw you in more and more as you progress. Not only do you need to focus on helping your fellow classmates through their emotional times, but you will also need to help Hinako come to terms with her own feelings of not being able to dance ballet anymore.
Blue Reflection gives the player the freedom to develop their characters the way they want and on how fast the progress through the story. Whether you want to build your friendships to the max or if you want to scrape by with what you need to complete the story is entirely in your hands.
Overall Blue Reflection is an amazing new IP for Gust! The style of the story and the game reminds me a lot of a visual novel mixed with the Persona series. Everything about this game fits well together and the story is one that you rarely see in the video game industry. This type of story is one that you mainly see in Slice of Life anime and manga which is a wonderful to see finally cross into video games. As with the Atelier series, I think Gust has a potential new franchise on their hand and could tell many more stories in the Blue Reflection world. As Yuzu and Lime comment in the game, there are many other Reflectors all over the world and it would be nice to see their stories told,
Blue Reflection may not be the type of game for everyone, but it will appeal to fans of Visual Novels, JRPGs, anime, manga, or those that enjoy Persona and /or Final Fantasy type games.
I give this game a solid 9/10!
A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review
Part time employee of a major video game retailer.