Note from OG: With the surprise resurrection of the Blue Reflection series in an anime midquel and a sequel to the first game, I thought it would be cool to try and cover the anime and first game before the release of said sequel. Although I did the former I could not get my hands on the latter in time. When I finally did, the sequel, Blue Reflection Second Light was very close to release. Fortunately I knew a fellow aniblogger and yuri fan who owned the game and was able to finish it sooner than me. Thus I asked my homeboy “Macho Chikorita” (chikorita157) if he could help review it. While the sequel is already out why not check out this review on the prequel to get an idea what all the hubbub is about and see if it is interesting enough to give a go. That is enough from me. Take it away dood!
Back in 2015 Gust, who is mostly known for the Atelier and EXA_PICO series wanted to branch out. They eventually created two new franchises. The first being Nights of Azure (Yoru no Nai Kuni), an action role playing game back in Fall of 2015 in Japan. It received a sequel in 2017. The second new franchise is Blue Reflection. The common theme of both is the cast are mostly female and of course yuri.
Nobody expected Gust had more in store for Blue Reflection until they announced an anime, Blue Reflection Ray, and a sequel to the original game, Blue Reflection Second Light (known as Blue Reflection Tie in Japan).
OG-Man gave me the opportunity to review the first game after procrastinating in finishing it on the PlayStation Vita. I eventually bought the PC version and breeze right through the game over the course of a few weeks during the summer. There are probably people who watched the anime and wonder how good was the game?
Platforms: PS4, PC (Steam), PlayStation Vita (Japan only)
Genres: Magical Girl, JRPG, Role Playing, School Life, Yuri
Length: 30+ hours
The story focuses on a high school student named Shirai Hinako. She attends an all-girls school and formerly a ballet dancer. However, due to an accident, she seriously injured her leg and had to quit ballet.
On the first day of school, she runs into a classmate, Nishida Sanae. She is happy to see Hinako and is a big fan of hers. However, for some reason, her feelings became rampant, and Hinako finds herself transported to another world. This world is called the Common, which holds the collective unconscious of all humanity.
After some monsters called demons in the common chase Hinako, she falls into a body of water and got wet. Eventually, she eventually gained the power to become a Reflector. Reflectors are magical girls who fight demons in the Common and protect the world from the Sephira.
After stabilizing Sanae’s fragment, which is a piece of someone’s feelings formed by their powerful emotions, Hinako meets Yuzuki and Lime, who are also Reflectors and in the same class. While Hinako was skeptical about becoming a Reflector, she decides to become one in hopes of healing her injured leg and return to ballet.
In the game, there are two areas of gameplay, the school and the Common. During the school day during free time, you can do various missions. These missions can consist of collecting certain items in the Common, stabilize a person’s fragment that is going rampant, synthesize a requested item, and more. After every chapter, there is free time to complete quests and character stories through the relationship system. To advance to the next chapter, you need to collect a certain number of points.
Of course, there is the relationship system. As expected, Hinako can go on “dates” with the friends she befriended after stabilizing their fragment throughout the main story. These dates will improve the relationship of the girl.
Depending on the relationship level, it will trigger a character story event. Some choices made during these events can also increase the relationship meter. Depending on the relationship level, you can trigger an event, which allow you to receive fragments from them. more on that later.
While it’s an interesting concept, I wished it had more depth since the dates had a 2D background with the characters appearing as 3D. Eventually, the date cutscenes run out with the bus stop scene after taking them to every place possible. As expected, you need to improve your relationship to progress with their character story. However, the relationship system is something Gust apparently improved in the sequel.
At the end of each day, you can decide what Hinako will do. Depending on the decision, it may grant you stats bonus for Hinako.
With that, this leaves the Common and combat. The Common contains monsters called demons. In the Common, you can gather items, which you can use to synthesize items. You gain recipes through missions done in school. The big difference is that you can’t use items during battle, but before.
Using an item before a battle grants effects that apply when you enter one. As a result, I don’t usually use them. You usually use skills to reinforce Fragments. These power up the effects of Fragments that apply to skills when equipped.
As for the battle system, it feels like the battle system from the Atelier games. While you can’t use items during battle, you heal at the start of every battle. You can use attack and support skills, which use MP. Some skills will use Ether, which you build up with an Ether Charge, from Supporters, and effects from equipped Fragments to a skill. Ether Charge can charge up the Ether gauge and MP, but it will take time.
Later, you gain access to active commands. You can use them when the battle timeline advances to determine who will attack next. These consist of guarding, time shift, support, and recovery. Guarding reduces damage received by and enemy’s attack. Support heals the supporters’ HP and MP during a Sephira battle. Time Shift allows you to speed up your turn and slow down the enemy’s. Lastly, Recovery does what it says, heals HP and MP.
Skills consists of two types, Support and Attack. Attack allows you to attack the enemy with powerful attacks, which use MP except for the default. Certain demons are weak or resistant against certain attack types. Support skills allow you to heal or buff up your allies. You can equip fragments to skills, which will add certain effects when a skill is used.
Next is the Overdrive skill. Overdrive allows you to use multiple skills depending on how much Ether you use. However, you can’t use the same skill twice. Using more than three Overdrive skills allows you to use a cooperation Skill, which is a powerful skill that deals a lot of damage.
During a Sephira battle, you can assign supporters. These are girls that you befriend throughout the main story. They also have HP and MP. If the HP gets too low, you can’t use them for a certain amount of time. Their MP builds up when your party attack. When their MP meter is full, you can use their skill, which range from healing and/or buffing your allies or deal damage. Supporter skills also increases the Ether meter.
Since you heal at each battle, you don’t level up the same way. You don’t earn experience through battles, but instead level up through growth points. You receive them through certain actions like stabilizing fragments. You can allocate points in these four areas: Attack, Defense, Support, and Technic. This influences the stats distribution and what skills you will unlock next.
As for the story and characters, they are enjoyable. While Yuzu and Lime are very close it’s interesting to learn more about the problems from the girls Hinako deals with. After Hinako learns about their problems from stabilizing their fragments she is able to relate to them through her own experiences.
Apart from one girl, Sanada Rin who has a crush on a boy, there are a good number of yuri moments. It’s an all-girls school after all. However, they aren’t as obvious compared to Blue Reflection Ray, except for Yuzu and Lime. It seems that some girls have some enthusiasm for Hinako, namely Sanae, Shihori and Sarasa, especially with some very interesting moments. Not too surprising since there are special events called “date events.”
Of course, there is Saiki Yuri. Yuri is interesting since she is very intelligent, but also ditzy. She sometimes forgets to eat after a few days since she focuses too much on her research. She also plays a small role in Blue Reflection Ray.
While Blue Reflection is an interesting concept, I do feel that the exploration is a bit lacking. After all, the Common, although there are different types depending on the feeling, there is not much to explore. Outside the Common, there is only the school and that’s it.
Moreover, the difficulty is so-so as you heal after every battle. The difficulty settings are like in the Atelier games. It pretty much raises the defense, attack, and HP of all enemies. There are also no consequences from losing your whole party in a battle. You either get kicked out of the Common or end up at the beginning of a boss battle.
Despite this, I think the presentation is great. The art style and character design look pretty and of course, the music does not disappoint, especially the boss battle themes. Not too surprising since Gust titles are known for good music. Overall, Blue Reflection is an interesting concept of mixing magical girl elements into a role-playing game with focus on human emotions.
For those who are considering the PC version, there is not many graphical settings besides resolution. The game can be played in English, Japanese, and Chinese. However, I noticed some translation errors in the English release. There were no problems playing on a virtual machine with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti passthrough on an AMD Ryzen 5 5900X system using remote desktop software.