Gust, best known for their work on the pleasant Atelier series, has been branching out with new IP in recent years including Nights of Azure and, their latest work, Blue Reflection. Blue Reflection is like Persona-lite with magical girl elements, and it’s something that genuinely blew me away.
Hinako Shirai, a ballet dancer who was quickly growing in fame due to her amazing skills, was forced to give up her career once she suffered a permanent knee injury. Dropping from the special classes to the regular classes at Hoshinomiya Girls High School, Hinako finds it difficult to socialise with others — rather, she doesn’t attempt to. When sisters Yuzuki and Lime Shijo force themselves upon Hinako and elect her to be part of the Festival Committee, Hinako quickly begins to make friends and enjoy a normal student’s life as she searches for a way to pick up ballet once more.
Genuinely blew me away.
It’s not simply a life-sim though, as Hinako, Yuzuki and Lime have the powers of the Reflectors. This sees them turn into magical girls with special abilities and strength, and they’re the only people who are able to traverse into Common, another world, to stabilise the emotions of those who begin going ballistic. Once the fragment has been calmed, the girls can collect it and use the powerful feelings of those girls when fighting the threatening Sephiroth who are trying to lay waste to Earth.
The game has a coming-of-age atmosphere where you see Hinako and her friends grow, and it’s handled splendidly. It takes place during the middle of Summer and as the end of Summer signals a turning point for many students, this feeling is reflected in-game. The writers at Gust have a firm understanding of growing up, teenage emotions and the beauty of Summer, and I became quickly enraptured in its beautiful world. I found it hard to tear myself away from Blue Reflection, and I’d love to see Gust continue their fresh new IP.
The writers at Gust have a firm understanding of growing up, teenage emotions and the beauty of Summer.
Blue Reflection is a turn-based JRPG with social elements, and it blends the two wonderfully. It’s social-lite but you’re able to explore the school and speak to other students and friends, and many of them have quests for you so that they can achieve peace of mind. You’ll quickly enter an area of Common, which is based on their state of mind such as sorrow, and defeat certain enemies or pick up items. Once done, you can leave and they’ll thank you for your troubles — they won’t know what you did exactly, but they’ll know that you did something for them.
If you’d rather just get on with the story, you can opt to go home instead of tackling all of the side-missions. I wouldn’t recommend this though because even though the game is fairly easy, even on normal, that might be because I tackled almost every single side-quest which came my way. You’ve still gotta earn those experience points! As you progress through Summer, Sephiroth will begin appearing and these are where the tough battles begin, and where your bonds come into play. You can call your bonds into battle to perform a quick attack or buff, and these are incredibly helpful. You only have a party of three to fully control, so every little helps.
It’s the art direction that really makes this game shine visually.
One look at Blue Reflection and you know it’s a Gust game. If the eyes don’t give it away, then the shiny visuals do. It’s a gorgeous game with outstanding character design (by the talented Mel Kishida) and, as mentioned earlier, it captures the nostalgic and bittersweet feeling of growing up. Weather ranges from bright, sunny days to gloomy rainstorms and nights brimming with stars, and they each make for breathtaking sights, even if the game visually isn’t remarkable — it’s the art direction that really makes this game shine visually.
Battles are overflowing with magic and different coloured sparks, and although there isn’t a great deal of variety in enemies, I never felt as if that was a negative — I tackled the majority of side-quests available too, but I was having too much fun to worry about fighting an enemy with a different colour palette or similar design.
This soundtrack is incredible.
There’s no English voice-over but the text is crisp and clear, although it is riddled with typos — they’re everywhere. It’s clearly been translated well, but it’s almost as if it was never edited because I’ve not seen nearly so many typos in a product in recent memory. It didn’t ruin the experience for me in anyway, but it’s a shame as Blue Reflection‘s dialogue is wonderful.
Hayato Asano, who’s worked closely with Gust on composing the soundtrack for many Atelier games and the two Nights of Azure games, returns to work his magic on Blue Reflection. Thankfully so because this soundtrack is incredible. Lead by awe-inspiring piano, Blue Reflection has a calm, peaceful soundtrack which reflects the atmosphere of the game. The only upbeat music is during battles where the pace is changed and more instruments are introduced. The Japanese voice-over is energetic and a pleasure to listen to, and I can’t find any fault in the natural, emotive performances. Blue Reflection‘s audio is a real delight.
The game itself might take place on a relatively small scale, but the ambition of the game is much bigger.
I love a good Gust game, but I didn’t expect myself to enjoy their latest offering as much as I have done. I found myself glued to it chapter after chapter, and found myself yearning for more at the end of its 25-30 hour journey. The game itself might take place on a relatively small scale, but the ambition of the game is much bigger. It’s set out to tell a story that’ll take you back to school and reignite your nostalgia for it, and it’s done so brilliantly.
You’ll be rooting for Hinako to return to ballet as you make your way through being a normal, high-school student and saving the world, and there’s a good few mysteries for you to unravel. If you’re a Gust fan then you won’t want to miss Blue Reflection, and if you’re a fan of JRPGs, enrapturing stories and engaging characters then you owe it to yourself to pick this up. Gust certainly deserve the praise and sales, because Blue Reflection is amazing and might be their best work yet.
- Super Mario Odyssey Celebrates its One Year Anniversary - October 28, 2018
- Dragon Ball Z KAI Final Chapters Review (Anime) - October 28, 2018
- Resident Evil 2 Remake Gets a Steelbook Edition in Europe - October 24, 2018