Blue Reflection Second Light, the review of the JRPG based on magical girls



Here’s our review of Blue Reflection Second Light, a JRPG based on magical girls and anime-style slice of life.

It was 2017 when Gust gave life to Blue Reflection, a new JRPG saga that – we assume – had the task of flanking the more renowned Atelier. The first chapter certainly didn’t break through and, with an anime and a mobile game exclusive to Japanese soil, we can’t blame Italian gamers who arrive unprepared in front of Blue Reflection Second Light, a direct sequel to the first chapter.

That’s why in Blue Reflection Second Light review we explain what we think about it.

Back to school

Ao and the first girls we will meet in Blue Reflection Second Light

Blue Reflection Second Light is a direct sequel to the first chapter, but at the same time it moves away from it in part. What happened in the first game, in fact, serves as the narrative basis for the events of Second Light, but the links between the two games will not be immediately visible. The protagonists with whom we faced the Sephira in 2017 will return, but it is not essential to know their stories in order to enjoy this sequel.

Hinako and her friends will explain in brief what happened in the first game, and that will be enough. Second Light also completely changes its setting, even if at first glance it might not seem so. Like its predecessor, this JRPG puts us in the shoes of a group of girls who are divided between daily life in their school and battles against monstrous beings in alternate realities during which they use their powers as Reflectors (or Sailor Moon with weapons and costumes more flashy).

That of Second Light, however, is not the real world. Our protagonists find themselves in a kind of prison, a school floating in an endless ocean in an eternal summer. With the sole exception of the main protagonist, Ao, the girls have no idea how they got there, what their past is, or what they’re supposed to do. Or at least, they don’t know initially. Also thanks to Ao, the puellae magi will begin to explore places known as Heartscape, or manifestations of their memories, which can then be retrieved.

Why do these Madoka wannabes find themselves in this reality? What has happened on the outside? Is there an escape route? Unlike the first chapter, the plot immediately highlights multiple mysteries and manages to draw more attention. Ao herself is a figure that raises doubts in the player, since she is quite different from the other Reflectors. Unfortunately, just like in the first chapter, the narrative pace is very slow, also because it is interspersed with slice-of-life events, i.e. scenes of daily life during which the girls get to know each other better, reveal what their favorite literary genres are, enjoy a cool drink or struggle over school books.

Team and combat

The area surrounding the school of Blue Reflection Second Light

Obviously, the stages of deepening relationships, in addition to characterize the various protagonists – which will continue to increase in number from phase to phase – are also and above all to obtain power-ups. Each girl has a series of abilities that are essential to make them more powerful (along with the classic level ups). It starts with normal stat boosts, but also new combat moves or passive effects useful for crafting.

Carrying on relationships through appointments and completing small tasks (such as defeating certain enemies or collecting certain items in dungeons) will allow you to upgrade Ao and her friends, making them real war machines.

Exactly as in the first chapter, Blue Reflection Second Light is a JRPG with a difficulty calibrated downwards. We played “Normal”, the maximum version, but there is even an “Easy” difficulty available, which we didn’t test. We assure you that the game is extremely easy in any case.

Combat system

The battle screen of Blue Reflection Second Light

How do you fight, though? The system designed by Gust for Second Light is a positive evolution of the first chapter. Each Reflector, basically, enters combat with a Rank or a “Gear” if we want to use the game’s term. This determines the attacks available and the speed of the character. The higher the speed, the less time it will take to charge Ether, or action points to spend to activate one or more attacks in a row. In addition, the Gear determines the maximum number of Ether that can be accumulated, so at Rank 1 we get 1,000 Ether and we can’t use moves that cost 1,500 and 2,000. Each attack, however, boosts our Grade, and after a few hits, it levels up. At Gear 3 the girl transforms into a real Reflector (with a bit of a curtain call) and becomes more powerful.

It might seem complicated to assimilate the details in written format, but the mechanism is very simple to use in-game. Simply put: the more you attack, the stronger and faster you get. Understand well, then, that in the simplest and fastest fights you don’t have much room to take advantage of the higher level Gears and their abilities, because as soon as you get it, the discount is now over.

It’s a shame because – over the course of the game – we’ll unlock more and more female warriors (some girls don’t fight and their abilities are only used to boost the real team members), each of them equipped with unique abilities, which will allow various combinations of powers. There is, for example, one character that can be used to give more turns to the others, so that they can rise in rank in less time. Other characters are more suited for healing, others for attacking and so on. Then there are equipable items that allow you to further customize, making – for example – a character start directly from Gear 3 for maximum power. The combinations, in the advanced stages, would not lack. As mentioned, however, the difficulty level is so low that even a sub-optimal team can get the better of it.

Ao, the protagonist of Blue Reflection Second Light, in a transformed version

Even the bosses are simple and mostly all the same as each other. On balance, the entire roster of enemies in the game, strong or weak they are, can not do anything but attack head down, with occasional activation of altered status, but they can not do much against us. Lacks variety and clashes that give the impression of being really challenging or at least unique. Even the visual design of enemies and bosses does not help: it is generic and soon repetitive.

To vary the cards a bit ‘on the table there are the one-on-one battles, which can be activated either by us or by the boss on duty. Respecting certain conditions, we activate a short battle during which we must quickly alternate between attacks and dodges / counterattacks, going in rhythm with the enemy. If you succeed, you can tear to pieces in an instant the boss on duty, but if we fail we just do a little damage or, in the worst case, the character is knocked out. This mechanic does nothing but make the fights even faster, cutting short those few moments that could give a little ‘satisfaction.

The dungeons themselves, just like in the first chapter, are limited in terms of design, as they are very linear and poor in interactions. We can, this time, use stealth to sneak attacks on enemies and gain an early advantage in confrontations, but don’t think of Persona 5-style mechanics. You’ll just have to crouch and wait for the enemy’s limited cone of vision to point in another direction to approach and attack him from behind, thus starting the fight. It is a mechanic not very dynamic, in line with the rest of the game, which unfortunately will be mandatory in some side missions, during which the fight will be prohibited.

Dungeons

The school will need to be expanded with crafting

Exploration and combat are only half of the package, however. When not diving into dungeons to retrieve memories and unlock new characters, Ao and her friends spend time creating new “places/objects” for the school. We’re talking things like a couple of lawn chairs with umbrellas, desks for doing homework outside, bar tables, a spyglass, and so on. Exploring and defeating enemies you can get all the materials you need to create what you need to advance with the storyline, but if you’re aiming for completionism you’ll have to spend some extra time in the dungeons to accumulate additional materials and upgrade each place to the maximum.

Each “place” of the school created gives bonuses to the girls and also activates new skits, which in turn enhance the protagonists. Blue Reflection Second Light sees us then bounce between mazes and school, increasing from time to time the protagonists, creating more and more places and activating more and more skits. Expect to continue in this way for over thirty hours or more (even more, depending on how many side activities you complete).

We point out that the camera, during the fights, is a bit ‘crazy, because it can not keep up with the pace of attack of the characters and keeps going from one to another with a series of zoom and change of frame that are at best useless and at worst prevent you from understanding what the enemy is doing, since girls and monsters attack at the same time. If you suffer from kinetosis, this might be a problem at first. Finally, as we suppose you expect, there are no Italian subtitles.

Comment

Blue Reflection Second Light takes the basis of the first game and creates a JRPG with a more interesting and tactically varied combat system and team management. Unfortunately, the low difficulty level limits the game’s potential. For the rest, it’s clear that the goal of this saga is to be an interactive sh?jo slice of life anime: friendship between girls, a little background mystery and a bit of JRPG-style activities to make up for the pure gameplay phases. We don’t recommend it to any fan of the video game genre, but if you’re a fan of anime reference, then you might as well accept the compassed pace and the technical compartment from 2017.

PRO

  • The combat system has potential
  • The plot is full of mysteries
  • Graphically dated
  • Very slow pace
  • Lacks a high difficulty option
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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