Also available on PlayStation Vita and Windows
Blue Reflection is a very unique game. It's a JRPG, but it's not like any JRPG that you've ever played before. It took me a while to decide whether or not I liked it, but I did quite enjoy my time with the game. As an exceptionally weeb-y game, it's sure to please many a Vita collector out there if you opt for the handheld version over the console version.
The story of Blue Reflection is, frankly, fairly standard as far as weeb games go. You're a high school first year who finds out that she's a magical girl who has the ability to cross into another world made up of humanity's emotions and fight four giant gods/monsters that threaten to destroy the world and wipe out humanity. You have to do this while you handle your high school responsibilities - friends, classes, clubs, etc. It's not exactly the most original plot, but it's very well delivered.
What makes the game so unique among JRPGs set in high schools is the way they structure the game play; it can't seem to decide if it wants to be a visual novel or a JRPG. It really is about a 50/50 split. When you're in the "other world" and during the boss fights, it plays like a standard JRPG. When you're in the real world, it plays mostly like a visual novel; most of the game is dialogue and choices as to what personal relationships to try to advance. It's a unique blend, at least as far as the games I've played, but it works well once you get used to it.
Visually, the game is your fairly basic anime inspired style. Not much about the visual design really stands out, but it's adequate enough. The sound design is where the game's ancillary aspects shine, though. The voice acting (it's all Japanese) is very well done, and the music is absolutely fantastic. The music varies from soft instrumental to heavy dubstep, but it's perfectly matched with the scene to fit what's going on in the game. The leveling system is another thing that sets Blue Reflection apart from other RPGs; you don't get any experience from battles. Instead, the way you gain levels is through strengthening your relationships with your friends and finishing key story objectives. It reinforces the importance of the visual novel aspect of the game.
Unfortunately, there are some serious flaws with the game. There's a fair bit of random slowdown even running on PS4 Pro, and while it doesn't break the flow of gameplay, it can be a bit jarring. I also experienced five or six application crashes during my playthrough, although the relatively frequent autosaves kept that from being a major hindrance. The biggest issue and one that is completely inexcusable given the severity of this issue is the translation. I understand a typo or a translation error here or there if there's no quality control. This, however, is on a totally different level. Every ten minutes or so, it seemed, there was a major translation error most of which were less legitimate errors and more just laziness and the lack of any kind of quality assurance whatsoever. It really breaks the flow of the narrative.
Blue Reflection is one of the most unique RPGs that I've played, but it ended up being an enjoyable experience. Mostly. Unfortunately the performance hiccups and egregious translation issues completely break the immersion for me. That's not to say that the experience is ruined - I did still enjoy the game a lot - but the sloppiness and laziness is, in my view, just inexcusable. If you're into hella weeb-y games, I still recommend picking this up, but I can't recommend it to anyone who's into exceptionally Japanese stuff.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.