Blue Reflection is a Shojo JRPG with a big focus on story telling that mixes high school drama with magical demon battles.
Let’s get one thing straight here before we begin. I am definitely not the target audience for this game. I’m not big on high school dramas but I like JRPGs a lot so I thought I’d try something new. Still, the gameplay was not enough to get me through it.
Blue Reflection tells the story of a 15 year old girl called Hinako who’s had to move schools. She used to the best ballet dancer in the neighbourhood until she fell and permanently injured her knee, thus ending her ballet career. She’s pretty down in the dumps but the girls at her new school are nice. On her first day there she befriends a girl called Sanae and during their conversation she just starts going mad. This big red light appears all around her and nobody else seems to notice. Hinako gets sucked into a beautiful fantasy world and two mysterious voices tell her she’s a Reflector now. Reflectors are people with magic rings that let them enter other people’s unconscious minds to sort out their problems. Also their clothes turn into very revealing dancers outfits with tutus and all.
Hinako has to fight some mech demon and then realises her leg is totally fine. Then she collects a floaty thing that lets her hear what Sanae was thinking. Soon after she’s back in the real world and meets two girls called Yu and Lime. They are also reflectors and they’ve taken it upon themselves to turn other people into Reflectors so they can all save the world together. They explain that as Reflectors it’s their job to fix peoples’ mental problems by hopping into their heads and fighting off literal demons. Then they collect Ether Fragments which are basically chunks of emotions and somehow the person suffering doesn’t feel so bad any more. Basically the Reflectors are magical psychotherapists.
Anyway, Hinako is told that Reflectors have to destroy the big bad called the Sephirot and whoever kills it will have any wish granted. Hinako decides to do this so she can fix her leg and get back to doing ballet. The story is well set up but after that it sort of falls apart. Hinako has plenty of motivation but the other characters just go along with it. Within a few hours they’ve recruited several more Reflectors by going into their heads, getting an Ether Fragment and giving them a magic ring. None of them seem too bothered by it all. I mean, “the world might be coming to an end and you have to become a magic warrior to stop it” seems like the kind of thing that might surprise you or make you scared but nope. All the girls are like “Oh cool, I wasn’t doing anything tonight anyway.”
The plot also moves forward at a snail’s pace. I know JRPGs get off to a slow start but almost nothing happens for hours at a time. It takes about 2 hours to get to the first boss, who is a total pushover, and then after that you just have to talk to the other girls. Hell, there’s one long ass sequence where Hinako challenges another girl to a swimming competition. It could’ve been done in one cut scene but it takes like 30 minutes. That could be said for a lot of Blue Reflection. There are a lot of cut scenes and most of them could have been a lot shorter. It probably didn’t help that I didn’t relate to any of the characters but maybe that’s because I’m not a 15 year old school girl.
So the story didn’t grab my interest at all but I thought the gameplay might. I was wrong on this too. I thought I was getting into a JRPG but really Blue Reflection is more of a visual novel with light JRPG elements. Battling enemies is boring. You have a variety of attacks but there is very little strategy since the enemies are weak and most only use basic attacks. You can win fights by just attacking over and over again without much thought. The fact that you get fully healed after every battle makes it so it doesn’t matter how they went. It’s not like you’ll ever have to play cautiously if you’re nearly dead because you’ll be right as rain once you take the last enemy down. Characters also level up fairly frequently and I like that you get to choose which of their stats go up. It adds a bit of depth as you can grow your characters in a multitude of ways to suit your play style. It sort of goes to waste though as they all get so many abilities no matter what you choose that battles will still be a walk in the park.
Battles aren’t the only gameplay of course. Blue Reflection is about school life too and that means lots of socialising. In between battle missions you’ll be given a list of tasks to do by Yu and Lime. Tasks like “Talk to Sanae”, “Talk to Rin” or “Find the girl who’s ditching class.” Talking to other characters is just watching them talk. There are dialogue choices and the response you choose will affect whether or not your friendship meter goes up. The choices are all super obvious and uninteresting though. When talking to Rin she’s going on about this drink she loves so much and asks if you want to try it. Your choices are “Um…”, “No thanks” and “Sure, I’ll try.” Good luck working out which one makes her like you more, right?
The more specific quests like talking to people who don’t have names involve going into their minds to fight some demons. These aren’t that interesting. You just go in and do a battle or two. Sometimes you have to walk around and collect a certain amount of items first but there’s no challenge in that since the only obstacles in your way.
The various worlds do look fairly pretty though. The visual design is quite well done over all. Everything is nice and colourful, the characters are fairly well animated in battle and it’s just pleasant to look at.
I think that’s about all I have to say about Blue Reflection. The gameplay is a bit dull and though I really like the idea of the story, going into peoples’ unconscious mind to fight demons, I don’t think it’s handled very well. When you come out the person literally forgets they ever had a problem and they really shouldn’t be having complete mental breakdowns because they don’t want to go to class one day. The story just doesn’t make sense. Why do Yu and Lime wait til Hinako shows up to start recruiting Reflectors? Why does nobody question it? Why are demons attacking a school? I don’t know and I’m not sticking around to find out.
To sum up, this game bored me. It took 3 hours before I couldn’t take it any more and I have no desire to see how the plot plays out. The only thing that kept me going that long was the soundtrack which is actually quite enjoyable. It’s not amazing but I’m still humming it now so there’s that.
This isn’t a game for me but if you like anime highscool drama with magical school girls it might be up your street. Oh and there’s a lot of fanservice too.
Did I mention they’re 15 years old? If you’ll excuse me I have to go and delete some questionable screenshots before the FBI comes knocking on my door.