Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a Japanese schoolgirl, wading through issues such as growing up and the emotions that come with that and friendship? If so, Blue Reflection, from developer Gust, is a game that dives into those concepts, with a slight touch of something alien going on. The question is, does Gust deliver a game worth going through these teenage emotions, or is it time to just let the demons take over?
In Blue Reflection, players take on the role of Hinako Shirai, or Hina as she is called in the game. Hina has suffered a tragic accident that prematurely ends her ballet career, a career that has been all she has known for awhile. Now that she can no longer do ballet, she is back at school, attempting to adjust to this new world around her. It is then that she meets Yuzu and Lime, two twins who introduce her to the power of a Reflector. As a Reflector, she has the ability to dive into an area known as the Common and understand the emotions of those around her. By understanding their feelings, she can protect their fragments from demons.
A majority of your time in Blue Reflection will be spent between school life in the real world and diving into the Common. In the real world, you will spend most of that time at school, with a small portion of time spent at home or out with friends. At the school, you are tasked with finding girls who are overcome with extreme emotions, diving into The Common with Yuzu and Lime, and thus defeating enemies until you are able to calm their fragment. Once done, you return back to school life to find the next girl. This repeats day after day and is made a bit repetitive by the fact that outside of it, school life is rather void of a lot of options. There are other quests you can do, though most are fetch quests inside the Common, or item crafting quests, also inside the Common.
The only real options of things to do that don’t involve another world and demons are to either head home everyday and select something to do (bathe, sleep, study) or hang out with one girl before you head home. Hang out with a friend enough times, and you will get a chance to answer a question for them and possibly increase your friendship or unlock a new fragment. You also have a cellphone of course. With the phone you can read messages between you and other girls (you don’t write them), play a Dark Cave creature sim, read a blog on your adventures, or play a hide-and-seek game to find handmade teddy bears in the school. None of these are very interactive at all and don’t really do anything to add to the overall game. As you progress the story, you can also unlock growth points, which can be used to increase one of four categories: Attack, Defense, Support, and Technic. Increasing these can unlock certain skills. As you collect fragments, you can set these into each individual skill in order to unlock added bonuses to that particular attack.
While the school life leaves a bit to be desired, the combat is very well done, if not a little bit too easy. Players can only take Hina, Yuzu, and Lime into battle throughout the game, though in boss battles you can call upon your other friends for support. Battles are turn based, with a timeline at the top of each battle that shows who will attack next. During the battle, you can use skills with knock-back to push back enemies and grant you and your team more attacks before their turn. Attacks and Support skills can be used in battle by using MP, with no ability to use items in battle. As you progress in the game, you do unlock the option to use overdrive, where you have the ability to select multiple attacks from a single character. There are also Active Commands that you unlock during the game. These commands allow you to guard and decrease damage received or recovery to recover HP and MP, among other things.
Now earlier I mentioned using your other friends as support. This is only used during boss battles, where you can assign four friends to each of your three characters, with those friends each having a unique skill for either support, attack, defense, or tech. Over time in the boss battles, as you perform an attack, you will get support commands that pop up, allowing you to bring out said friend to perform their skill. The biggest issue here is remembering what each friend does, though there isn’t really much harm in just bringing them all out one by one after your attack. The biggest issue though with the game, is that combat really doesn’t ever get hard, even on the hardest setting. Even boss battles never felt overly difficult, though at times trying to manage your MP (which drains so fast) without items, while also attacking can cause some tense moments.
Blue Reflection Review - Emotionally Charged (PS4)
The lack of difficulty in combat and the lack of things to do outside of battle really makes this an enjoy at your own pace adventure, with the hope that the story and visuals are enough to carry you through rather repetitive gameplay. To a certain extent this works, because the game really does look pretty, especially during the action. However, the world itself and the Common area are rather barren and dull. It’s made worse by the fact that there are only four mini-dungeons in the game, all with the same enemies. Oh, and there is no ability to run, so just get ready for that.
It’s really rather unfortunate just how much is missing from Blue Reflection. The bones of a good story and combat are there, with likable enough characters, but that’s it. The lack of options in both the school life and the Common are just deflating. The game feels like a Persona starter kit to a certain extent; it just needs more polish and more to do. It’s not terrible, and I enjoyed my time with it, but there just wasn’t anything overly memorable to stick with me. Those looking for a relaxed trip that they can just pick up and play whenever, could find a solid outing here, just don’t go expecting the world.
Blue Reflection review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.