Hey gang, Valkor here. And I’m taking a bit of a movie break in exchange for a little adventure gaming; thanks to the folks at Sega, they’ve dropped a choice nugget on my lap in the form of “Shining Resonance Refrain”. What’s it all about and is it worth your time? Well, you’re about to find out.
Shining Resonance Refrain is an action/RPG remaster of the Playstation 3 original; while you get to choose the original story, you can also jump right into “refrain”, which opens up a load of options including choosing either the original Japanese or English voices. With Refrain, you get a couple of extra playable characters (Excella and Jinas) as well as all of the DLC that was included with the original. With that in mind and going against all recommendations, I jumped right into Refrain mode. And I was more than happy with that choice.
The main story centers on Yuma, a young boy with the ability to transform into a powerful dragon. He’s been thrust smack dab in the middle of a war that’s spreading across the land. And only the power that he wields within himself can make all the difference. You don’t start out as Yuma as you’ll have to rescue him as Sonia. But from then on Yuma can take the lead or you can switch him out for another. However, Yuma is the only one that can change into dragon form. However, each character has their own fighting style. So, depending on your fighting preference, there’s sure to be a character that will suit you. I’m more into the warrior type so playing as either Yuma, Sonia or Jinas works best for me. I tried Agnum but found his move set too sluggish for my taste.
Gameplay in Refrain is fairly simple; you have your basic attack, which goes into a three-hit combo, as well as a “break” move that will stun/stumble an enemy if you connect. Each of these moves reduces your AP, but it’ll replenish just as quick as it goes away once you stop fighting. Next, you have your “Force” moves, which allows your character to perform some devastating attacks or use defensive magic such as heal or cure you of ailments. As you level up, you’ll gain new moves where you can mix and match as you see fit. Finally, you can send out commands to the other players such as taking a more offensive/defensive approach or heal you at a time of need. Finally, as Yuma, you can switch to dragon mode, which has a simple move set all its own, but in this mode, the dragon uses up MP. If you run out, it’ll go berserk and will start attacking everybody on-screen - friend and foe! To quell the beast, you can perform a little song or B.A.N.D. move that not only keeps Yuma-dragon from going berserk but also provide buffs towards the other players. You can use both Yuma-dragon and/or B.A.N.D. moves at any time.
Next, we’ll dive into Resonance, which acts as something like a dating sim; as Yuma, you’ll have moments where you can interact with the other characters and ultimately form a bond with them. This usually happens at night when you’re about to rest either at the inn or at a campfire; before then, you’ll “invite” a character to join you for a little one on one. From there, your bond with the other character will grow, which you’ll be able to see through a skill tree. This affects not only how you interact with one another regularly, but also during combat as well. There are also times when you're chatting with a character where you're given an option of answers. Choose the correct one and you'll see your friendship blossom.
Finally, other than the main quest, there are plenty of mini-quest that you can pick up from the people around the town of Marga; since you’ll be going through plenty of the outer areas more than a few times, getting the items necessary to complete a quest should be a breeze, though some may be a tad bit difficult, others will require you to kill a certain amount of monsters and there are other quests where it’s just a repeat. My favorite quests revolve around Alfriede and her Grimoire, which remind me of the dungeons in Tokyo Xanadu.
Shining Resonance Refrain is part of the Shining Force series, though it’s a definite departure from the previous versions. However, my only frame of reference would be Final Fantasy XV with a touch of Marvel Ultimate Alliance - both of which are fun games to play. But in the end, is this one adventure you’d want to partake? Let’s find out in the TOV Breakdown!
Shining Force Refrain starts out just so-so, but after playing through it, I have to say I’ve not only fallen in love with this action RPG but I welcome it into my list of RPG favorites. The controls took some getting used to, but it didn't take too long before I was so many chapters deep. The story isn’t anything new or remarkable, but it is captivating and fun; I love that you have many different characters to choose from, each with a different move set. And given such variety, there has to be at least one character that will fit you best. The quests are a mixed bag of positive and negative (the negative I’ll explain in the next section), but playing through the Grimoire areas makes me wish it was a game all by itself. Not only is it a fun area to play but it’s a great way to grind. Graphically, the game is beautiful to look at, especially during the cinematics. Sure the characters don’t animate much, but the artwork is amazing. The music is good stuff, though I wish the songs during the B.A.N.D. sessions were a bit louder, especially since music is a major part of the game. In the end, Shining Resonance Refrain is a mixed bag of awesome with a decent story, great characters, and a whole lot of fun!
My major issue with the game is the quest, especially those that repeat. This annoys me when I see that a person has a quest only to find out I’ve already done it. Take for instance Primula; she has a quest to retrieve these tomatoes to make a dish. This is one of the more annoying quests because those things aren’t easy to find. And if you happen to find one on the ground – it’s just that one. And there are plenty of quests like this, which I know you can skip, but it irks me seeing it there on the map.
Shining Resonance Refrain is available now. And if you’re an RPG fan and/or a fan of the Shining series, then this is one game you shouldn’t pass up. It’s nothing new in terms of story. However, the game packs more than enough to make this an enjoyable trek. I’d recommend it. So, out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Shining Resonance Refrain a 4.