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A Decent ARPG, but not much more.

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    Shining Resonance Refrain

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    A Decent ARPG, but not much more.

    Introduction:

    After many years since the release of the last Shining game for the West, Sega brings over Shining Resonance Refrain. Sega’s Shining games is a long running game series that only a few have actually been localized in the West. Shining Resonance was actually released for the PS3 several years ago in Japan with the Refrain version being released just somewhat recently in Japan. In case anybody is wondering what are the differences, the main ones are that Refrain’s resolution is increased (probably around 4k native), runs at 60 fps (most of the time, especially outside battles), all prior DLC content is included, and the Refrain mode which allows early access to two party members that were originally unlocked in the post game.

    Story:

    The story and plot is fairly generic that could be found in a modern anime plot. The developments aren’t surprising and can come off as unmemorable for a lot of people. However, I wouldn’t go so far as say that it’s terrible. It’s good enough to move the game forward and does have good pacing, assuming you don’t go all out on side contents. If you’re expecting a deep story here, you’ll likely be disappointed.

    Characters:

    Similar to the story, the characters here are quite generic and cliche. Their isn’t a whole lot of character development, but the characters do have some depth to them that are mostly found during their side cutscenes and "date" sequences. None of the main characters are annoying or offensively terrible from my perspective, but your mileage may vary depending how much anime tropes and cliche you enjoy and or can tolerate. It is pretty clear that one of the main attractions to this game are the female characters which is a reflection of the "Waifu" culture. Design-wise, if you enjoy Tony Taka’s works, then you’ll enjoy these character designs.

    Graphics:

    A screen shot of this game can easily show that the graphics won’t wow many people. But to be fair, this isn’t a big budget JRPG so people shouldn’t be expecting great graphics in the first place. Overall, it’s kind of what you would expect from a niche JRPG game. It’s not terrible though.

    Setting:

    For those that care, there is only one town in the game. It’s relatively small and only has a total of two areas. However, outside of that, there are some variety that people can appreciate such as fields, beaches, caves, snowy mountains, deserts, a cemetary and a fort to name a few.

    Music:

    The music in this game is probably one of the highlights. This is what I would’ve expected from a JRPG with the usage of music as actual plot points. The events, battles, and field themes are mostly good and can even be epic at times. The game does have a lot of different music since the soundtrack to the original version had 71 tracks including a number of vocal tracks. However, while I do appreciate using music as part of the story’s themes, it doesn’t rise to the level of the Ar Tonelico games where music is pretty much central to those games.

    While we’re on the subject of audio, this game does include Dual-Audio in case anyone is wondering. I can’t comment on the English track, but the Japanese track is full of veteran and big name voice actors.

    Gameplay:

    The gameplay here can be repetitive at times, although it’s true of many JRPGs. Outside of advancing the story, there isn’t much to do other than complete sidequests (which are very repetitive), gain experience in battles or view the "date" events. There is however a somewhat randomly generated dungeon that players can play around with to acquire items. It’s not a game changer, but it’s nice to have.

    There’s some quality of life issues that I’ll note here. There’s no Fast Travel Option except to the town, but requires an item usage each time. Changing Battle Leaders during combat requires going to the menu and change there. Only active party members gain experience which can be problematic for one segment that force you to use two specific characters. This is somewhat dealt with by acquiring an equipment to gain exp as a reserve party member, but this requires a lot of hoops to jump through before you can get it. Lastly, the FPS noticeably drops at times during battle when certain spells and skills are spammed together.

    Battle System:

    The game is an action JRPG so it often gets compared to the "Tales Of" games. Shining Resonance isn’t as deep or interesting as some of the Tales Of games. Most combos and links here are pretty simple and there isn’t much room to experiment and create unique ones. The combat isn’t as fast paced either. Every character do play differently so there some variety here. The combat overall is fine so long as people don’t expect Tales Of combat.

    Game Content:

    This is about a 30-40 hour JRPG if you only do the main story and not much else. There are a large number of sidequests as mentioned earlier, but they are very repetitive and mostly serves just as padding for the game. There isn’t a lot of replayability either especially without a NG+ option.

    Conclusion:

    Overall, this is a low budget, but mostly solid JRPG. It’s main highlights are probably the music and the character designs. While most aspects of the game come off as generic such as the story and the actual characters, people can still find some enjoyment in the game so long as expectations are kept to a realistic level.

    3.5 out of 5.

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