By Steve Baltimore / May 11th, 2017
|Title||Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom|
|Publisher||Focus Home Interactive|
|Release Date||April 18th, 2017|
|Platform||PS4, XBox One, Steam|
I was unaware of Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom when the crowdfunding campaign took place back in 2015. I actually discovered the game via a YouTube trailer. I was quite taken with the art style right off the bat, and it had been a long time since I took on an Action RPG like this, so I thought I would check it out. The big question is, does it play as good as it looks? Let’s find out!
In the world of Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom everything takes place on bodies of land called Meteora. These are basically pockets of atmosphere and life in outer space. Traveling between these Meteora has been a reality for much of civilization, but for some it was far too dangerous. Shiness are actually elemental spirits of Wind, Water, Earth and Fire. Most people cannot see nor speak with Shiness. A young Waki named Chado’s life is thrown for a loop when he meets Terra, who is a Shiness, shortly after his mother’s passing. Chado, with the help of his newly formed bond with Terra, decides to build an airship to travel to the Lands of Life in order to revive his dead mother. However, things do not go as planned when his ship is struck by lightning and crashes on the island of Adorya. With the help of his friend Poky the two must find a way to fix their broken ship and continue their journey, but this will lead them on an adventure far greater than the two of them could imagine.
This is the basic story of Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom, and yeah, it’s pretty straightforward. I thought the actual world lore was very interesting, and there’s even an official manga on the game’s site that is very nicely done. My biggest problem is the character dialogue: it’s just simply not that interesting. I don’t know if this is because it was written by a French developer and just not localized properly, or if they were going for a really stereotypical Saturday morning cartoon script, but every character in this game comes off as flat. While I don’t think this is a deal breaker, I do think a much better job could’ve been done.
Graphically speaking Shiness looks fantastic. The landscapes have vibrant colors and lots of detail, and there is a great variety of them to explore—from castle ruins to lush forests, this game has it all. The character models are nicely detailed as well. It honestly feels like you’re playing a very interactive cartoon most of the time. There are quite a few glitches; these are mostly clipping issues with the environment, and most of the time they don’t break the game, and are just a little annoying. However, I did get stuck in the ground, in water, in rocks, and various other things a couple of times and had to reload, which is just flat out frustrating.
One of the best features of this game is the soundtrack—it is fantastic. There’s lots of tribal music for exploring forest areas of the overworld, and some more classic mysterious dungeon tracks for spelunking through the various dungeons the game has to offer. There is some voice acting here as well, but it is done in the native language of this world, and I honestly think it kinda makes you feel more immersed in the world.
Exploring the world is actually a lot of fun. There are tons of hidden items to find that beef up your characters or get much needed consumables. You can capture furry and not so furry creatures to swap with the trader for items and more. You can walk around as any character in your party, and each of them has a unique field ability. Chado, for example, can create seeds to hit switches. You will need to use each character’s abilities to solve the many puzzles the game throws at you. These are mostly simple puzzles that won’t tax your brain power all that much, but it is kinda interesting how they set some of them up. Some of these include using telepathy to move objects, using seeds to hit switches, and connecting electrical currents in certain color patterns. However, I did run into a few glitches here that broke the game a bit. In one case I had to tap R2 a few times, and I just kinda fell through the map to fix it.
Enemies will appear on screen, and battle will start once you approach them. This is arena style combat, meaning when combat starts invisible walls will appear to contain you in a certain area. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if environmental objects such as bushes and trees would disappear when you were close to them. The camera is already not that great, and when you add to this the fact that 8 out of 10 times there’s an object blocking your view, it quickly becomes aggravating. The basic combat is pretty much rock, scissors, paper in a lot of ways. Kicks have better reach than punches, and you can parry almost any attack. There are some magic spells and special moves you can perform to get out of a tight spot, and you can tag in and out between your party members on the fly during combat. The real problem here is that the enemy AI is not balanced very well. Most of the time it is rather stupid, but there are occasions where it becomes an absolute killing machine.
The one thing I did love about the combat was the deep skill and support system. You can learn a ton of different support skills that will allow your teammates to assist you while they are not in combat. These are kind of like Gambits, if you ever play Final Fantasy XII. You can have a character cast a healing spell if your health falls below X percent, or use a healing skill if you get X status aliment. This system works very well and more games should take note of it. The Shi system allows your characters to learn a ton of different moves to use during combat. This works by basically allowing your characters to equip and master different skills, and it makes them very customizable to fit your play style.
In the end Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a good game that could’ve been a great game with some more polish. The combat is fun even if it’s a bit unbalanced, and the story is good even if the character dialogue is a bit weak. The glitches are really troublesome, and most of them are simple things that should’ve been caught during QA. The $29.99 price tag is pretty well in line with the 15 hours of gameplay you get out of the game, and you can forgive some of the flaws because it is a budget title. If you’re looking for a decent Action RPG to pass your time, Shiness might fit the bill, but be ready to deal with some flaws.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Action RPGFocus Home InteractiveFurryShiness: The Lightning Kingdom