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About the product
- Beautifully rendered 3D character models that bring the 2D artwork of Tony Taka to life
- Dynamic and frenetic real-time action combat - Combat supported by music element, B.A.N.D. system, to enhance your powers in battle
- Play as a Dragon - unleash devastating attacks on your foes
- Refrain Mode introduces previously unplayable characters into your party
- All extra cosmetic content and the original's DLC is included;Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) Content Description: Fantasy violence, partial nudity, suggestive themes, use of alcohol
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Fans who pre-order Shining Resonance Refrain on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, will receive the game in a collectible metal slipcase, featuring character artwork of Excella, Sonia, and Kirika.
Shining Resonance Refrain remasters the original Shining Resonance, previously released on PlayStation 3 only in Japan, and features dual audio with English and Japanese voices. In addition to all of the original's DLC, now included as part of the base original mode, Shining Resonance Refrain packs a new Refrain Mode, unlocking the Imperial Princess Excella and Dragonslayer Jinas as party members for a new experience - just be sure to save this for your second play through to avoid any spoilers! With real-time action combat, it will be important to utilize each party member's unique abilities and strengths while deepening relationships with each character. Through events and dates, get to know your party members to unlock their full potential on the battlefield! Depending on the bonds of the characters, resonance may occur between the characters them, providing a new level of support, leading to victory. 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?
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Graphics: Refrain, being a remaster/complete edition of a 2014 game, has pretty unimpressive visuals by 2018 standards. Realistically even by 2014 standards its just okayish. Keep in mind 2014 gave us Dark Souls II, Wolfenstein New Order, and Destiny; all games with good, crisp graphics. Sure, you could argue it's going for a more anime style, but Tales of Zesteria came out in January 2015 and I would say it has much better visuals. Don't get me wrong, the graphics aren't terrible, just not great.
Story: Honestly, this game's story is pretty bland. The main character is too much of an archetype and his reluctance to do anything is kind of grating. The main bad guys are pretty cut copy paste and their actions and motivations are predictable and uninspired. There is little to no moral conflict, bad guys are bad and good guys are good. The rest of the cast are pretty much tropes with no deeper motivation. Their is a relationship system that's not bad, but it leans more towards outright fan service waifu type relationships rather than actual nuanced and developed characters interacting. It's not bad if you dig that kind of thing (I do personally) but don't expect Mass Effect or Persona levels of development. If you play the Refrain mode before beating it normally, just know the two additional DLC characters will make next to no sense seeing as how they are the main antagonists.
Gameplay: The most important part of any game in my opinion is the gameplay. This is where Refrain gains ground and makes up for a mediocre story and bland graphics. The combat is more rhythmic timing based then pure button masher. I found it rewarding to keep a combo extended indefinitely because I kept the rhythm correct. Strong attacks replenish the stamina gauge and light attacks replenish the MP gauge. Its a novel spin on Tales style combat that kept me interested and engaged. Different characters handle differently and it can be fun to change things up and try playing with someone new. The dragon summoning mechanic is kind of useless, but in the vein of Summons from Final Fantasy 10, it can be fun and it adds a little extra variety to keep you engaged.
Design: The world design of Refrain is kind of odd. Enemies on the world map appear completely random, spawning at random places and at random levels. This can make it hard to figure out if you are under leveled and an unexpectedly high level enemy can result in a trip to the game over screen. Entering and exiting combat is fluid with no loading screen and it is fairly easy to avoid most enemies. Towns are typical jrpg placeholders with little to no personality. Honestly I was playing this game at the same time as Star Ocean 5 and the towns in both games kind of blend together in my mind. They just arn't memorable like Inaba from Persona 4 or the locales of Ivalice in Final Fantasy 12.
Closing: All and all this game is pretty mediocre. Bland graphics, a mediocre story, and a forgettable world hold back the decent combat and relationship systems. Worth a pick up as a time killer if you want something similar to a Tales game or are a jrpg fan in general.
As a side note, the Draconian Launch edition steel case is actually quite nice. It looks awesome, holds the game well, and isn't super bulky like some collectors editions are.
Let's first talk about the battling. Fighting is not very fluid which is part of why it's just not fun for me. It doesn't go straight from regular moves (jamming on button) to your skills (holding one button and pressing another button). I mean, the fight continues while you're doing this, but your character doesn't go straight into the skill, there's a slight pause which just ruins the battle flow, in my opinion. Fighting in general is overall repetitive, there's no depth to the system in place. Also, The AIs are some of the worst I've seen in a game in recent memory. You're not told what effects their AI, but I feel the bond traits have something to do with it? Maybe? No clue. The game does a poor job in general of explaining how the many systems work. There's also some terrible slow down in fights from a couple of the characters' attacks/specials. God forbid you wanted to have Excella or Marion on your team. Personally, I love grinding in games, I just couldn't get into it in this one, despite trying out all the characters.
tl;dr: The battle gameplay wishes it was as good as a Tales of game, which it is not.
Side quests are repeatable and equate more or less to fetch quests on the map. When I say repeatable, I mean it, they pretty much go on forever. Monsters DO level with your characters, but this means little to nothing. Actually, what it means is that you quickly realize why having only one town in an RPG is a bad idea. Congrats on spending most of the game leveling up and gaining dates with characters via that one old lady(on a bench across from Kirika)'s quest to kill a horde of pastes right outside the city gates, though!
I should also point out the lack of an instant travel option. When it's only one town, this means you're running through the same map screens the whole game. It just feels completely tedious and less like exploring or progression.
Something I did really enjoy in this game is the Grimoire. It's a book that's full of dungeons you can enter instantly. You can power up these dungeons via drops you have a chance of receiving in any battle. In my humble opinion, this should have been how every dungeon/map was traveled to in the game, considering there is only one town/base of operations. It would have made more sense.
The story is pretty standard generic fare, which is fine. My major complaint with the story is that world building and lore could have been built earlier and more thoroughly via the dragon that resides inside of Yuma (main protagonist). We know Yuma can talk to the dragon in his head and vice versa (because it's shown a few times throughout the game), so the dragon should have been telling him (us) more about what's going on and how it connects the past to the present. Instead, over half way through the game, you get a huge info dump which is mostly stuff you've probably already figured out.
Most of the characters aren't too bad, for instance, Rinna made me laugh a couple times, and I actually really liked Marion. They're just kinda bland overall. As for Yuma, without getting into too much, I just find him annoying. For the first time ever, I wish a main protagonist was a silent one.
I can only speak for the English voice acting, which is admittedly fairly solid. Most of these are people I've heard in other games (I counted five from Persona 5 alone, haha), but they do a fine job making these characters come to life.
Dating will always be something I find fun/funny in a game, but I honestly was creeped out by Yuma during 90% of the dating stuff. I mean, in the Persona series, the protag basically comes across as a sociopath, but I'm never creeped out by it. There is no reprecussion to having Yuma romance every character- female and male. I'm not entirely sure if the game designers intended the Yuma x Male dates to be romantic, but they definitely feel MORE romantic than the female ones. Which is great, but Yuma just comes across as super awkward in the female ones.
I really hate being so critical about so many things here. If you're a fan of JRPGs, you should give this a shot, maybe when it's 30 dollars or less. I heard there's a demo for the Switch, so if you have that system, try it out? I wish I had more positives to say about Shining Resonance Refrain, but the things done right are so generic and typical that they don't even stand out in my mind. It's not a bad game, however, it's just kind of there. With a few tweaks, I feel this could have been a really great game. If the next one comes out in North America, I'd definitely buy it to see what/if they improved upon things.
My final words are these: Why does Sonia's armor have a boob window? Why?