Although mostly known for their Atelier series, Gust occasionally tries something new. Blue Reflection is a simple story-driven experience but is it one worth playing?
Blue Reflection has you play as a schoolgirl named Hinako. Soon into her story, she finds out that she has a magical ability to transform into a powerful version of herself and look like a pop idol as a result. She uses this power to dive into an alternate dimension known simply as "The Common". Here, she takes it upon herself to uncorrupt what's troubling her fellow classmates as this place represents human unconsciousness. She'll find herself in a variety of settings in The Common that represent happiness, fear, sorrow, and anger. It's a weird premise for a game but the story involving the schoolgirls can be rather compelling if you're inclined to care about the strife that these young ladies feel on a daily basis.
The graphics and sound are absolutely fantastic. For starters, the character models are very unique and look like anime come to life. It is disappointing that most of the cast wear the exact same outfit which makes them harder to tell apart from one another but they all still look great. The soft colour palettes and gentle hues within each environment help craft a stunning world. That being said, the enemies are quite generic as most are abstract monsters that lack any definable features. To round things off, the soundtrack is composed of beautiful melodies that add a lot of liveliness to the game world.
The gameplay in Blue Reflection consists of running around the school and talking to people as well as entering The Common where you can do some more running around. There, you'll also fight enemies and gather items. You usually have a few missions to complete such as collecting a certain amount of items or fighting a specific enemy. The battles themselves are extremely simple. Even though there are mechanics such as MP recharging, support abilities, and an overdrive mode that allows you to perform multiple actions, it's all still very basic stuff that anyone can easily learn. Even the occasional boss fights are easy to master.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is far too simplistic to have any sort of lasting appeal. The majority of Blue Reflection is spent watching story scenes and talking to people and when you actually get to enter The Common, you'll likely find yourself yawning as you stroll around and defeat your foes as the gameplay generally remains the same throughout the entire campaign. The party setup dynamic is basic, too, as all you do is allocate points whenever a character levels up and equip fragments that give your attacks special attributes.
Another factor that makes the gameplay feel far more monotonous than you'll expect is the lack of any substantial challenge. For starters, all of your HP and MP completely replenishes between battles so you'll almost never find a need to strategize. You can waste all of your MP on powerful spells willy-nilly and suffer no consequences as a result. The previously mentioned boss fights are tougher but they can still all be taken down with minimal strategy or preparation. This level of easiness makes Blue Reflection an overall unsatisfying game.
Finally, although the story can be engaging, it's held back by frequent scenes that I presume are supposed to be titillating but they end up just feeling awkward and creepy. For example, watching presumably underage girls shower together then hug each other completely naked will make any man or woman with a conscience feel weird. I assume there are people out there who like this sort of thing but if you do then consider this: what if a bunch of teenage boys were hugging each other nude in a communal shower? If you don't have a problem with either of those things then just ignore my ramblings and keep doing what you're doing... I guess.
Blue Reflection is a simple game that'll appeal to a very niche crowd of gamers. If you're looking for the next great JRPG then you won't find it here but if you just want to drool at pretty schoolgirls then you'd be silly not to pick this up.
- + Simple gameplay that anyone can learn
- + Lovely visuals and music
- + Compelling story if you're into watching the struggles of teenage schoolgirls
- - Gameplay quickly gets boring and repetitive
- - Complete lack of challenge
- - Plenty of awkward scenes take away from the story and can be just plain creepy