One thing I will never understand, but honestly can not get enough of, is video games that have anime openings that have a completely different feel to the rest of the game. Stella Glow is no exception to this rule as I sat watching the opening movie unfold with audio and visuals more outlandish than what I had played so far and you know what? I loved it. Welcome to Stella Glow, a final farewell song from developer imageepoch and a title for your Nintendo 3DS you will love.
Developer Imageepoch have, let’s be honest, made some fantastic games over the years. Though they may be gone we can finally rejoice as their final game, Stella Glow, has released in PAL territories thanks to NIS America. As a tactical role-playing game offering a deep story with multiple endings, engaging characters and the chance to have some relationships there is a lot going in Stella Glow. Though on the Nintendo 3DS there is a lot of competition to go up against Stella Glow makes an impression from the very beginning.
Stella Glow is broken into two main areas of gameplay which you’ll switch between as you progress through the story. When outside of battles Stella Glow handles like any other role playing games or visual novel. You’ll move through cutscenes and conversations. Visit the shops to spend your hard earned cash and then prepare for battle. Inside of battle however the gameplay of Stella Glow comes together and really starts to stand out as a solid example of polished tactical role-playing gameplay. You’ll have your team of units, each character having a different role and purpose on the field, and then them out into a 3D battle ground to overcome the challenge.
You’ll take it in turns to move a character on the board and give them commands to perform a number of different actions and skills available to them. From walking right up and slashing a foe to running behind them and unleash a devastating roar of pure light, your options are there. One element in these sorts of games that always makes me very happy is when different terrain has an impact on the characters stats. Being above and enemy for example will give you a sight advantage likewise would be behind then when you unleash your attack. Taking the environment into consideration when making your move can have a big impact on the flow of battle and in turn your chance at victory.
It’s like a very carefully planned game of chess where you need to overcome and overpower some serious challenges. They are all within your grasp but never think it will be a walk in the park or otherwise you might find yourself spending yourself too thin. Stella Glow does however make sure you’re eased into all the different elements and rules of the game at a nice pace. This helps with coming to terms with just how much is going on and what you can do within the 3D environments. From the point of view of controls and accessibility Stella Glow hits the nail on the head time and time again. Resulting in a robust and pleasant gameplay experience throughout.
In the presentation department Stella Glow has a really strong delivery through the whole game both through visuals and audio that aid in the satisfying experience. From the artstyle of the game to the animations and just about everything in between. There is a surprising level of polish and detail that stands out and once more no one element every felt like it shouldn’t of been there. For example the fact that when equipping items you’re given a small portrait of characters next to their gear to help identify who has equipped what is a massive benefit. It is the small elements like this that make Stella Glow a joy to look at and play as the design, not just the look and feel, is so strong.
The user interface within battles alone is enough for to sing praise about the great design that is going on within Stella Glow. It is clean and clear making all the information you need to access available within one or two button presses. Battles may drag on a bit due to the battle animations but there can be turned off to reduce the downtime. Still though, those animations are awesome to watch the first few times as the character models are surprisingly detailed. Furthermore, as someone who isn’t a big fan of 3D games I played most of Stella Glow with the 3D on as it felt so good. From the 3D battles to the 2D character artwork, it all look amazing in 3D running smooth as anything. Not just impressive on presentation but stunning on performance as well.
Let us know forget the audio of Stella Glow however. The voice acting within holds up well with the English voice cast delivering a top tier performance throughout. From emotional moments to the roar of battle cries each line is spoken beautifully and clearly. The supporting soundtrack is also something that really stood out to me as each of the games songs are beautiful scored and sound incredible on the Nintendo 3DS. Sound effects and other audio works keep up with the music and once again help to seal in the deal and sell the world that Stella Glow creates. Given that music is a key part of the game’s story is also makes no surprise that the audio would be to such an impressive level of quality.
Though the game starts off by putting you in control of a young man with amnesia by the name of Alto. You’ll soon find that the story expands beyond a small personal conflict into a quest to save the world so to speak. There is a lot going on with the story in Stella Glow but it never felt like to much to handle. In the world of Stella Glow only witches can sign because God is somewhat a jerk and took song away from humans. When a mysterious witch appears and starts singing A song of destruction, things really kick into gear. Seeing as Stella Glow offers a number of different endings all affected by your choices throughout the story and your relationships with others. There is plenty of replay value to be found in the game just from a story standpoint alone.
With the added benefit of being able to move the story and relationships forward both during free time and battle time the options to discover more in the world of Stella Glow is rather high. Using your free time you can explore the surrounding areas, spend time with friends to build relationships, tune witches and go on a shopping trip. Batte time is of course where most of the action takes place and the main story line moves forward. Managing your time is important both for the gameplay and for the story. Ensuring you’re always ready to fight and have grab every chance to build relationships requires carefully planning but really, you can go nuts and still have a fantastic experience with Stella Glow.
I found myself enjoying Stella Glow to a point that I was happy to sit back and let the cutscenes and conversations play out in auto mode. Skipping them or trying to rush through did not feel right with me. Though I would skip the battle animations simply because seeing Alto attack a hundred plus times loses it’s awesome, I found the experience oddly relaxing. Even in the heat of an intense battle I was still more then happy to be playing Stella Glow and pushing the story forward. It might not be a game to everyone’s tastes but for those who are willing to try will find themselves satisfied with what Stella Glow has to offer.
Stella Glow is available now for Nintendo 3DS.
This review is based on a copy of the product provided by the publisher.