Title: Blue Reflection: Second Light
Release Date: November 9, 2021
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Releasing a sequel to an already niche RPG is always a surprise to me. This is why Blue Reflection Second Light took my interest from its first announcement. Using new characters and narratives to their fullest potential, I’ll say that it isn’t necessary to play the previous game, but you absolutely should so you have a better understanding of the returning characters. That said, this adventure is far more refined than its predecessor.
Blue Reflection Second Light introduces Ao Hoshizaki, who walks to summer classes after failing a test and hating life. Relatable. Strangely, her phone receives a unique app that whisks her off to a mysterious school in the middle of an ocean. Other girls there are Kokoro, Yuki, and Rena, who have all lost their memories. Ao still remembers her life outside of this place, so she steps up to help them reclaim theirs.
This game does a lot of shifting, which makes it feel like a natural adventure. The girls don’t know what’s going on, and their goals change as they uncover new secrets about this place. After a while, memories place new characters in the world, and it starts to become clear what this place strange place is.
It goes into spoiler territory, so I’ll leave it at that. However, this game gets emotional. There are hours of character interactions that sell the bonds of these characters, which makes the final moments of gameplay intense. Too bad I had all my characters dressed in bathing suits for most of the adventure because then it might have been easier to focus on the drama rather than the casual “ass shot” camera angles.
That said, I don’t believe the target audience is explicitly males for this adventure. The friendships written are genuine, and some of the issues these girls face may resonate better with female players. Given that this is an all-girls club, though, expect some interactions to be borderline playfully flirtatious.
A significant feature is to go on dates with the girls, which is needed to increase their bonds, unlock new skills, and learn more about them. These are some of the few scenes that can’t be skipped either, as players need to respond during dialogue, taking the conversation in a more playful or flirtatious direction. I would urge you to read these bouts with the characters as they are often hilarious or show a side of the characters you didn’t know before. It’s ultimately needed for a more impactful second half as the character drama increases.
Blue Reflection Second Light has a lot of moving parts. Progressing the narrative requires journies into characters’ Heartscapes, which are projections of their memories. These dungeons are large in scope and full of enemies.
Items are scattered about along with memories, but they are all pretty straightforward to navigate. Each area also introduces some interactivity, whether it be climbing or crawling, but other than a theme change, these are just pretty dungeons. Thankfully, dungeons aren’t reused too often, but some side-missions require you to head back for a stealth mission or two. Other reasons to return are for materials needed for crafting. However, the only material I ran out of was Warm Sand, which had me farming in the first dungeon for a bit.
Item crafting is basic in scope, but characters can add effects directly tied to the bond level system. By including specific characters in the item crafting process, you’ll be able to increase the item’s effectiveness. Non-consumable items don’t need this level of thought as you’ll mainly be using them to create structures that can be placed around the school and be the setting for future dates.
These structures add additional buffs to the party and can be upgraded using more materials. It’s not needed, but it does make some of the battles easier. In retrospect, I typically had all of the materials required just by battling and picking up items around the field, so this doesn’t hurt progression.
Battles are pretty interesting as there are different layers to every encounter. Three characters can be on the field, with a fourth support character available for unique buffs, switching, and item usage. Players have access to all three characters at once as the battles are on an active system. A timer shows a character’s Ep, which can be used for skills. This gauge increases throughout the fight and opens up access to other abilities.
After a while, the girls will transform into their Reflector magic girl outfits, which grants them more abilities and stronger skills. Finally, if the enemy is powerful, you can access a one-on-one fighting system where you attack and dodge enemies in hopes of hitting them with a final blow. It’s all entertaining in execution, with quick and flashy attack animations that get you back to the field and story quickly.
Boss battles are a little strange because the enemies are so forgettable. A true antagonist does come around but after hours of meeting new Reflectors and clearing Heartscapes. Returning are moments where the school is under stress, but this doesn’t carry the same significance as the previous one, but I feel like the emotional story beats impact this area enough.
Blue Reflection Second Light is a beautiful game, and I didn’t encounter any issues with performance. It’s an experience that seems to just move naturally throughout the 20-hour campaign, but its pacing is all over the place. Extra story triggers require you to explore the school, but sometimes it hurts the narrative as you can tell you should have encountered this hours ago.
Navigating the school grounds is exceptionally easy with a fast travel system that shows you where everything is going down. There’s also a phone that gives you access to any outstanding side-missions. In addition, menus open up options to customize characters using TP gained from interactions that further enhance the overall progress. It all works nicely together but requires the player’s full investment to enjoy, limiting new player interest. This goes without saying, that the soundtrack is fantastic.
Blue Reflection Second Light is a powerful story of a group of magical girls stuck in a world where males just don’t exist. While they explore their past, bonds are created to deliver fun and energic moments of storytelling made grander by emotional story beats. The action-focused battle system is fast and addictive, and exploration is straightforward without weighing the experience. It’s a low barrier of entry JRPG with plenty of charm to warrant a playthrough.
Oh, and Kokoro is best girl.
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