By Steve Baltimore / November 8th, 2021
|Title||Blue Reflection: Second Light|
|Release Date||Nov 8, 2021|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, Switch, PC|
I remember when I played Blue Reflection a few years ago and I was very surprised at how good it actually was. I often call it one of the most underrated games of the last generation for its amazing story and fantastic style. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when new Blue Reflection projects were announced. I enjoyed the Blue Reflection: Ray anime, and was very excited to get my hands on Blue Reflection: Second Light. I wasn’t sure if this entry in the series could meet my expectations after I was so blown away by the first game, but it’s time we find out.
The story here begins with a girl named Ao Hoshizaki waking up in a very strange world. This world appears to be a school surrounded completely by water. There are three other girls there as well. Their names are Kokoro Utsubo, Rena Miyauchi and Yuki Kinjou. The three girls have lost all of their memories and have just been living day to day at this school until you arrive. Through some events, Kokoro begins to remember a bit about her past, and a strange new place appears in the world. This strange new area is filled with monsters called “Demons” and everything here relates to Kokoro’s past. They decide to travel all the way to end of it in the hopes of regaining her lost memories. She does regain some of her memories, but there are many questions about this world yet unanswered. The girls will have to press forward if they want to uncover the secrets of this world and get back to the real world.
Much like the first game, Blue Reflection: Second Light’s story is about the emotions we all have. As the story unfolds you will get to know a lot about each of the girls and all of their past experiences. Some of these will really tug at your heart strings because the game does a great job making you care about every character in this game. The series of character interactions between dungeons, of the girls hanging out and going on dates, gets you really attached to them quickly and seeing some of their past struggles hit me pretty hard at times, especially with Yuki. I don’t want to go into anymore detail because of spoilers, but you will understand once you see it. I could gush about how great I think every detail of this story is, but I feel like this is something folks really need to experience for themselves. While I think everyone should play the original Blue Reflection, you could probably skip it and still get everything you need out of this title story wise, but watching the Blue Reflection: Ray anime is a must. I feel like folks would have a hard time keeping up with the second half of the story without knowing what happened there.
Graphically, Blue Reflection: Second Light looks great. The Heartscapes (dungeons) are greatly detailed and fit the character’s story it represents to a tee. The team has put a lot of love into these, and it really shows because I felt very immersed in the character and story being told in one. The girls themselves look fantastic as well. Much like the first game, the DLC costumes will add a lot of spice to their looks, but even their standard models are great. There aren’t a lot of normal enemy models in the game, so you will see a lot of recolors during your playthrough, but the boss monsters are all very impressive and highly detailed. They aren’t quite as good as the multiform bosses in the previous game, but they still look beefy and terrifying.
Something I am almost always a fan of in Gust titles is the soundtrack, and this game is no exception. The tracks here still have that electronica sound while mixing in softer beats for the more emotional moments. Some of the battle themes you know and love from the previous game make a return, but there are slew of new ones that are wonderful as well. The music in the Heartscapes, just like the amazing graphics, really pull you into each character’s story. The game is voiced in Japanese and this cast does a wonderful job bringing these characters to life. There is no English dub for this one, which is not an issue for me, but for some it might be.
The gameplay here is divided up into two parts. The first one being, exploring the girls’ Heartscapes. These dungeons are usually pretty straightforward, but you will have to navigate a few puzzles in order to reach the end of some of them. As they are traversed you will collect memory shards along the way that will give you a much better understanding of each girl’s past. There are also plenty of other collectibles along the way such as crafting items and blueprints. Items used for crafting or fulfilling requests made by the other girls, may be obtained from enemy drops as well.
The second major part of the gameplay, is building up your relationships with all of the other characters in the game. This is done in a few different ways: fulfilling their requests, going on dates with them and through random story events. The girls’ requests are things like, make a certain item, build a certain school facility, defeating certain demons and even some sneaking missions. Completing these tasks will earn you Talent Points with each girl, which you can spend on new skills and unlock new events for you to view with them as well. Some events will unlock as you build the facilities they request too. The girl that requested it will usually ask you out on a date. Some of these events are pretty wild since you are building things like beds, shrines, giant teddy bears and festival stalls. Each facility you build will also give you some effects during combat. Some of these are just straight up buffs, but others you may have a trade off, such as giving up 15% defense for 15% more attack power. These have to be activated, so you don’t have to worry about the effect being present just for having it placed in your school.
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