Title: Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue
Developer: Inti Creates
Release Date: November 16, 2023
Reviewed On: Xbox Series X
Publisher: Inti Creates
Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue – A Shallow Dive into Love Live
The Love Live series appears to have no end in sight. Just when you think this franchise is all about a world without males and idol girls hanging out, they introduce a fantasy storyline in a spinoff called Yohane the Parhelion: Sunshine in the Mirror.
If you’re a Love Live fan, you’ll likely enjoy what’s here, but if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, there are other Metroidvanias worth exploring.
Developer Inti Creates, known for their 2D action series, Gunvolt, has found themselves working on a game based on this side adventure and crafted an original narrative titled Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue. While it accomplishes more than many video game adaptations of anime, it falls short of delivering the enjoyment factor found in the developer’s other titles. Instead, we’re left with a somewhat shallow Metroidvania experience featuring some clever systems.
Lighthearted Narrative and High-Quality Voice Acting
The narrative of Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue revolves around Yohane herself. Alongside her partner, Lailaps, the two venture into a mysterious dungeon in search of her eight lost friends. The relationships between Yohane and her friends are primarily explored in other media, such as the anime, but we do get brief story scenes depicting their interactions. It’s worth noting that most of these scenes involve only one character interacting with Yohane, possibly due to the game’s non-linear structure. However, it would have been nice to have more scenes with the characters just talking.
What we have here is primarily intended for fans of the source material, which is excellent if you’re a Yohane enthusiast.
What we have here is primarily intended for fans of the source material, which is excellent if you’re a Yohane enthusiast. After a brief introduction to Yohane, you embark on an original adventure. However, the game lacks significant lasting appeal, as the primary driving force is the quest to save your friends. Interestingly, the developer uses each friend as a means of exploration and attack actions.
The overall narrative is lighthearted and fun, with high-quality voice acting provided by the series’ cast, adding a nice touch to the scenes. However, I did notice that the HUD options during dialogue scenes were missing Auto Play and Reread buttons. Additionally, if you press Start, the scene skips without offering a “Do you wish to skip the scene?” option.
The overall narrative is lighthearted and fun, with high-quality voice acting provided by the series’ cast, adding a nice touch to the scenes.
Challenges and Shortcomings in Gameplay
As a Metroidvania, Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue offers a unique gameplay loop where the friends possess abilities needed to access new areas. It follows the genre’s standard formula of exploring a maze-like map across various themed levels. In addition, there are procedurally generated rooms scattered throughout the map, which change each time you enter and feature challenging encounters to overcome. The procedural nature of these rooms shouldn’t be a significant concern, as there aren’t too many of them, and they contribute to the overall sense of exploration.
The on-screen map helps identify rooms with treasures and the direction you should be heading. Moreover, you can conveniently warp to a Save Point at any time from the start menu, which somewhat reduces the game’s challenge since you can warp to refill your health. However, we’ll delve into this further later on. Other activities in dungeons involve battling enemies, collecting materials, and progressing through the story.
The combat is the weakest aspect of the game, and while there are challenging bosses and enemies, the ability to spam healing items diminishes the sense of tension.
Combat has its ups and downs. While there are some promising ideas, they aren’t fully explored. Yohane can craft items as she collects materials, and you’ll be alerted to this by an exclamation mark on the screen. These items are equipable and provide access to special weapons and defensive armor. However, after unlocking a decent accessory and the Axe, I didn’t find any other combination of items that worked for me. This might be a common experience since the game isn’t very challenging, and all craftable items are visible from the start, giving you a clear goal to work towards.
Nevertheless, there are items that offer buffs and reduce damage from elemental or debuff attacks. Consumable items can be purchased at Yohane’s base, which presents a slight issue. You can easily stock up on healing items and overpower your way through boss battles. The developer rarely holds back during encounters, and while the boss fights showcase fun attack patterns, their impact on the story is minimal once defeated.
Exploration and Map Design – A Maze of Confusion
Another issue is that the idol attack abilities are situational and mostly ineffective in actual enemy encounters. Once you encounter a girl, you can clear their obstacles on the map and switch back to Lailaps, as he excels at attacking. There are no complex combos here; you’re limited to about two consecutive attacks with Lailaps, followed by using your equipped item, a brief pause, and another attack. There’s no dodge mechanic, and you can’t cancel attack actions. Additionally, Yohane moves quite slowly, which can lead to taking damage, although the healing items mitigate this issue. On a positive note, her movement resembles that of classic Mega Man games, where the Blue Bomber moved at full speed with purpose.
The map’s layout can be confusing, lacking a cohesive structure. I often found myself wondering if I was in the right place or why so many areas seemed to loop around in circles.
Other side-missions involve searching for lost items, which you’ll likely find by exploring every possible room. However, the map’s layout can be confusing, lacking a cohesive structure. I often found myself wondering if I was in the right place or why so many areas seemed to loop around in circles. Nonetheless, the dungeon themes were interesting and introduced new enemies, adding some variety to the gameplay.
Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue – A Love Live Experience
Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue is a fairly standard Metroidvania experience on the surface. However, Inti Creates has gone the extra mile by incorporating procedurally generated areas, crafting mechanics, and expansive maps for exploration. Unfortunately, the combat is the weakest aspect of the game, and while there are challenging bosses and enemies, the ability to spam healing items diminishes the sense of tension. If you’re a Love Live fan, you’ll likely enjoy what’s here, but if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise, there are other Metroidvanias worth exploring.
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