Blue Reflection is a stripped down version of Persona and the closest game you will get to a modern Sailor Moon title. Developed by Gust Co, the RPG title has a strong premise but doesn’t fully realize it due to its mundane questing and closed in exploration, and boring social aspects.
You take on the role of Hinako: a high school student whose dreams of ballet dancing is cut short with a serious leg injury. While heading to class she encounters a fellow student, who after introducing herself, begins to laugh uncontrollably and a dark aura begins to envelop her. Hinako is than transported to a different dimension where she herself also transformed and her leg injury is mysteriously healed.
Hinako is befriended by two sisters, Raimu and Yuzuki, who have been fighting demons who run rampant inside people’s emotions in a world called the “Common.” It is here that our heroes must defeat demons and help the other young students deal with everyday troubles and pressures that put them in a heightened emotional state.
Most of the game is spent during after school hours where Hinako can go and interact with other students, make friends, and much like Persona go and hang out with her friends. The problem with all of this is you can’t really move on to any story missions until you complete a certain amount of side activities to earn points. As you are a “Magical Girl” you take it upon yourself to consistently help out anyone and everyone that needs assistance. Most of these side activities revolve around killing a certain demon in the Common or simply exploring the school by going to certain locations for absolutely no reason. Unfortunately, you spend so much time doing these pointless tasks that it gets boring and repetitive fairly quickly.
The other big aspect of the game comes social aspect comes from Hinako’s cell phone. Hinako is able to access a virtual social media room called “FreeSpace” where she can chat with her classmates, play a tamagotchi-style pet raising mini-game, change the wallpaper of their phone, and listen to the game’s soundtrack. It sounds like a cool feature but it’s mostly all automated. You can’t yourself start up a conversation with anyone in the chat menu and the pet mini-game just has you respond to your pets current mood until it’s ready to leave you on an epic quest inside a cave at which point you will start over with a new pet.
Thankfully most of these quests are easy to complete because of the game’s fast travel mechanic. Simply select where you want to go from the game’s map and get transported there immediately. Unlike in Persona, building bonds with your friends will simply increase a specific character stat and give the team growth points. Building bonds will also give Hinako special items that they can use to equip on their skills to add extra benefits to the skills they are equipped to.
Unlike other role playing games where EXP (experience points) is awarded for defeating enemies and completing quests, Blue Reflection instead awards Growth Points after completing an unspecified number of quests and friend interactions. Growth Points are used to increase your level as well as add a point to one of four attributes, which in turn will allow you to learn new skills in combat as well as increase various attributes of your heros how you see fit.
While in the Common, Yuzuki, Raimu, and Hinako will explore a handful of small locations where they will face off against demons and collect items. There really isn’t much more too it. Combat is where the game actually shines but it’s also hindered by just how easy it is. Combat in Blue Reflection is turn-based allowing you to take your time a pick a good strategy. The Common itself could’ve been an interesting location to explore but the locations you visit are repeated so often none of them have enough to time to shine.
During combat, one of the key aspects is managing the amount of Either you have, which is paramount to surviving tougher battles.. Either is one of the most important things to pay attention to during combat, as running out will leave you exposed and only by replenishing it will allow you to continue to use your most powerful abilities. The other big use of Either comes into play when using your overdrive ability, which will allow you to attack multiple times with one character if the either gauge is over a specific amount.
The best moments of combat come during the game’s boss fights. When a boss fight activates, the student’s high school comes under attack by a giant demon. These encounters have a type of timer and must be defeated before the demon reaches a specific destination, and will slowly move closer and closer to the school and feature multiple body parts for you do destroy. Destroying the boss’s body parts is essential, as these sections will have their own attack turn and will eventually overwhelm the party. Unfortunately, the destroyed body parts will regenerate making you feel like you just aren’t making much a difference. The end of the boss fight also comes with an awesome boss killing animation that’s different for each boss.
Blue Reflections’ soundtrack is pretty catchy and has some memorable tracks, particularly the standard battle and boss themes. Graphically the game can be gorgeous at times and other times drab and ugly. Character models are incredibly detailed and pose a striking, vibrant color palette as do most of the Common area locations, which look quite impressive. On the other hand all the locations outside of the Common locations are fairly boring and aren’t very impressive whatsoever.
Blue Reflection has tried to create a more simplified and user friendly version of Persona. It may have succeeded in some regards but failed in most others because most of it is fundamentally dull. Solving high school teenage problems is not something I would consider fun. Thankfully the game’s combat come to the rescue to add some enjoyment but just not enough to make Blue Reflection stand out or prove an especially memorable experience.