In the current day and age, there are some JRPGS that are missed. One such JRPG is Shining Resonance: Refrain. This game was originally released in Japan online. That was in the year 2014. Now four years later, Shining Resonance: Refrain is remastered and released World Wide. This is thanks to Sega for stepping on this front to publish the title. How is the game? Let’s take a look in our review of Shining Force: Refrain.
Shining Force: Refrain
Developer: Media.Vision, O-Two (Refrain)
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4. Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, & Microsoft Windows
Release Dates: PlayStation 3 – JP: December 11, 2014; PlayStation 4 – JP: March 29, 2018, WW: July 10, 2018
Nintendo Switch & Microsoft Windows – WW: July 10, 2018, & JP: July 12, 2018; Xbox One – WW: July 10, 2018
*Thank you to Sega for providing a review key for the Playstation 4 version. This will also be compared to the Nintendo Switch version which was self-purchased.*
This is the story at the start of the game:
Yuma has the soul of the Shining Dragon within him, transforming into the ancient beast by unleashing the power conducted through his sword. Dragons, long thought to be extinct, make Yuma a target for the Empire. To use him against the kingdom of Astoria, The Empire captures Yuma. Sonia, princess of Astoria, launches a rescue mission with the help of the Dragoneers. Hearing about the plight of Astoria and their fight to save their land, Yuma decides to aid them. Typically timid, will he find the courage to realize the strength he has within him?
The official website has some very detailed story elements that may be considered spoilers. Read those at your own risk. In terms of the story, it is delivered quite well. I found myself thinking it was predictable, but I was caught off guard. With so many things going on, as well as each character has their own story (to a degree), there is a good amount of content that comes your way.
Gameplay is actually simple, yet complicated depending on what is taught. In terms of combat, it is as straightforward as it comes. You are given a pretty detailed tutorial right at the start of the game. You are taught the basic elements and advanced moves. You are given a stamina bar as well, which limits how much you actually do. However, if you stop attacking/defending, it regains itself pretty quick.
When it comes to other out of combat tutorials, the explanation is very vague. One example is the bond/romance system. You are given a brief explanation of putting traits in the bond links. However, you aren’t told how to level up the bonds between one another, check that current status, and how to unlock other elements related to that. It all becomes trial and error (or a google search). I get that it wanted to be somewhat like Persona with social links, but it really lacks in this area.
In terms of comparing the gameplay to the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 version, it plays the exact same. The only difference is the load time. On the Nintendo Switch, it takes an extra 7-10 seconds to load.
Visual and Audio:
Visual-wise the game looks pretty good. It has an anime aesthetic to it. It looks good to it. When it comes to comparing the visuals between the Nintendo Switch version and the Playstation 4 version, the Nintendo Switch version sacrifices its visuals to a degree. In handheld mode, it is noticeable. However, it is not a game breaker by any means.
^ Nintendo Switch Screenshot
^Playstation 4 Screenshot
Audio-Wise, the game has a very good soundtrack. In addition, the game has very good voicework. You have the option of English Dub or Japanese Dub. All which sound wonderful for each character. Those that were cast for their role actually took the role to heart.
*Note: The Character trailer gives you the Voice work as well as the music. That is why it was used here*
In terms of Replay Value, the game pitches new content. This comes in the forms of two characters. They are in the main story and are not playable in the normal mode. However, they are playable in the Refrain mode. It is also recommended that you play the Refrain mode after you finish the story. However, in truth, you really do not need to. My first playthrough was the Refrain mode. I believe I did not lose any content that way. You also have multiple endings with your romance of choice (or harem).
Is this game fun? I actually loved playing this game. It took me completely off guard and I thought it would be some sort of basic JPRG that was nothing special. While it is true it does have some similar elements to JRPGS, there is a whole different feel to Shining Resonance: Refrain. I am actually considering going back to play the game.
Shining Resonance: Refrain is a fun JRPG that was remastered after four years. There are some elements that have aged (such as the terrible bond system). In addition, there may be the tropes that exist within the game of other JRPGs. However, Shining Resonance: Refrain does much more to separate itself from the rest. This game is jam-packed with content, multiple endings, alternate characters, and a huge amount of story. In this current day and age of huge games, it is wonderful that this game was remastered. I am glad I had the chance to play it as it is probably one of my favorite games this year. I look forward to seeing other Shining games that hopefully become remastered in the future.
Until next time, Mgs2master2 out.
*Once again, thank you to Sega for providing a Playstation 4 review code.*