I didn’t play the original Blue Reflection, so I was a bit dubious as to how much I’d enjoy its sequel Blue Reflection: Second Light. Would I be able to follow the story? Would I know the characters? Would the game mechanics be too unfamiliar? It actually put me off playing for a while, despite hearing from others that the original was an under-appreciated gem.
Well, I’ve finally got through the game, and you know what? I really enjoyed it, even without experiencing its predecessor. Sure, there might have been some elements that I could have appreciated more if I knew a few more of the side characters or the history of the world, but it didn’t stop Blue Reflection: Second Light from being a fun RPG experience.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Blue Reflection: Second Light puts the player in the shoes of Ao Hoshizaki, who finds her life taking an intriguing turn when a mysterious app known as FreeSpace pops up on her phone. This isn’t some random mobile game or niche social media app though, but instead a portal that sends her away to a peculiar school environment that’s surrounded by water. It’s also filled with deadly monsters, which is par for the course for this sort of game, as well as another realm to explore known as the Faraway.
Luckily, she encounters three other girls in this strange place, though they’re not much help; whilst they’re familiar with the locale now, they’ve each lost their memories tied to the real world. It’s up to you to try and help them out and find a way to return home.
I really liked the story of the game, with the sense of discovery found with the Faraway and the constant intriguing reveals ensuring that it’s easy to find yourself invested from start to end. Whilst Blue Reflection: Second Light can be guilty of doing some predictable things, it does so in a charming way that won’t dampen your enthusiasm in unravelling its mystery. It’s fun, whilst the likable cast of characters ensure that you won’t tire of your party of schoolgirl heroines.
“Fortunately, the girls of Blue Reflection: Second Light are pretty badass and can hold their own in battle, with each pulling out the likes of scythes or big ‘effing guns when taking down enemies.”
Players will spend plenty of time exploring the school environment and there are even opportunities to open up new areas within it, though most of the action takes place in the Faraway. Embracing a fantasy-style setup, the Faraway is spread across multiple smaller areas that each bring with them their own unique look and feel, meaning there are plenty of distinct and unusual sights to be seen across Blue Reflection: Second Light. The world is super pretty too, with plenty of vibrant colours shown off within each area, whilst the characters look like they’ve been lifted straight out of an anime.
Whilst nice to look at though, the Faraway is also a deadly place. Fortunately, the girls of Blue Reflection: Second Light are pretty badass and can hold their own in battle, with each pulling out the likes of scythes or big ‘effing guns when taking down enemies. It can feel like a drastic shift to the somewhat tranquil vibe if I’m being honest, but it all added to the wacky undertones of the game. Players will initiate combat encounters by colliding with enemies that are scattered across each environment – if they’re quick and hit them with their weapon first, they’ll also get the initial advantage in battle.
I was a big fan of the game’s combat, with it offering turn-based mechanics that embrace strategic elements that can benefit both players who play it slow and steady or those that go for all-out attacks. See, each character’s abilities are tied to Ether, which is a resource that will gradually be rewarded to each character as the battle goes on. The more powerful an ability is, the more Ether it’ll require to use, so players who hold out performing abilities and stick to quick attacks will eventually reap the rewards and be able to use the abilities which pack a bit more punch. Fortunately, as battles go on your Ether-generation increases in speed, adding a more frenetic sense of progression where you’re able to unleash more damage to foes on a regular basis the longer it goes.
It adds an element of strategy to combat where players have to determine when to use their abilities and when to preserve their Ether. Admittedly, it doesn’t matter too much in some of the standard battles against menial foes (which could result in some battles feeling stale and repetitive), but boss encounters or tricky instances against a party of powerful enemies will take some satisfyingly clever-thinking to conquer. There are other things to consider too, such as the girls becoming more powerful the more abilities they use, with each one eventually entering a phase where they become a Reflector. This is the equivalent of their ‘super’ form, giving them a swanky new look and some of their most powerful skills – it can be a real game changer in battle and encourages players to take an action-orientated approach just to be able to take advantage of it. There’s also a combo system in place that rewards those who manage to sync together multiple uninterrupted attacks, adding another thing for players to think about. It’s all good stuff and ensures that the combat of the game is one of its stand-out features.
“I was a big fan of the game’s combat, with it offering turn-based mechanics that embrace strategic elements that can benefit both players who play it slow and steady or those that go for all-out attacks.”
One thing I especially liked about combat in Blue Reflection: Second Light was its accessibility, with it possible to have the AI control your companion characters when in battle. It alleviates some of the pressure on the player and often optimises their decisions to be the most useful in any given situation, which will certainly make life easier for players who aren’t so familiar with the genre. Believe me, looking at the HUD in combat might be a little overwhelming since there’s a lot going on, so it gives players a good chance to learn the ins-and-outs of the game. There’s also the ability to see the cone of vision of enemies when exploring, making it easier to avoid them when you just want to explore the world carefree. Whilst I’m typically a sucker for grinding and trying to get as much XP as possible for my party, being able to simply skip battling was handy at times too.
Speaking of XP, there are multiple ways to level up characters in Blue Reflection: Second Light. Whilst beating enemies is the easiest way, there are also side quests to complete that unlock Talent Points to spend on new abilities and improve each character’s skillset. It certainly encouraged me to do as much as I could across the world, with the benefits offered going a long way in making my party stronger.
Other than that, you’ve got a lot of your typical RPG hallmarks. There’s plenty of side quests to tackle, dungeons to clear, items to collect and craft… you know, that sort of thing. It gets all of the basics right though and ensures the adventure is an enjoyable and wholesome one, whilst it’s all complemented by a genuinely brilliant soundtrack that captures the tone of the journey perfectly.
Blue Reflection: Second Light Review
Blue Reflection: Second Light was a really pleasant surprise, with its intriguing narrative, fun combat, and beautiful world making for a really enjoyable RPG experience. I had a really good time exploring the Faraway and seeing Ao’s story through to its conclusion, whilst only some minor missteps along the way deterred from my fun.
Whether you played the original game or not, Blue Reflection: Second Light is just a real feel-good RPG that might be more niche than the juggernauts of the genre, but still deserves your attention.
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PC