> It's been around a decade since Sega released a Shining
game in the US. Shining Resonance is an action/RPG exclusive
to PS3 in Japan. I suppose, since they decided to make an
expanded and remastered version for PS4 in Japan, Sega
of America thought it was a good time to re-introduce the Shining
series to North America. Shining Resonance Refrain is the
worldwide continuation of this elite series.
> If having a Shining game in the action/RPG genre wasn't good enough,
this game also features the fantastic character creation of Tony Taka.
The main protagonist, Yuma Ilburn, must lead a "force" of "Dragoneers"
to thwart the evil empire's effort to gain the power of all "World Dragons".
They wield "Armonics" (musical weapons) that make a symphony of magical
attacks and buffs. In addition, Yuma has the power to morph into the most
powerful World Dragon, the Shining Dragon. Can he tame such an immense
destructive force, or will it be his demise?
> This remastered version, Shining Resonance Refrain, includes
over 150 DLC elements from the PS3 original. A new "Refrain
Mode" can be immediately accessed, which adds 'what if' side story content
to the standard game. It is, however, recommended to play the Standard
Mode first for better context. Throw in two additional controllable characters,
Excella and Jinas (Jenius), to round out the added content.
> One can certainly tell, graphically, that this game hails from the prior
generation (PS3 to be precise). That's not a problem, as
Shining Resonance Refrain maintains smooth animation, over
the top force (magic) effects, and enemies of all sizes. Perhaps they could've
recreated some of the enemies and locales, but this game is no slouch;
and at an MSRP of $49.99, what more can one ask?
> Of course, the first thing one will notice and appreciate about this
game is Tony Taka's amazing character creation; they get a 10! If there's
one thing I frown upon, when it comes to RPGs, it's when the developer
makes ugly female characters. That is not a problem in Shining Resonance
Refrain. The male characters are cool too, even though Yuma is
your stereotypical wimpy, nerdy anime kid. Overall, my favorite character
is Kirika, although I prefer to control Rinna. The sexy moves Rinna makes
definitely provide a distraction while grinding/farming.
> So the other major factor for me is magic. Again, Shining Resonance
Refrain delivers the goods. The mages cast force magic, while the
fighters wield force skills that end up looking like magic. There are a
few lame (looking) force abilities, mainly restricted to a few from water
and ice. I love using the light and dark magic very much (with Rinna),
while lightning, fire and ground have some sweet looking effects as well
(on other characters). The one aspect I would change is to allow each character
to learn magic from each discipline.
> I'm going to keep this as simple as possible. The player's duties involve:
talking, searching, accepting/completing quests, resting, dating, shopping,
collecting, viewing cut-scenes, dungeon delving, (avoidable) battles, mandatory
battles, and boss battles. The player's base of operations is the city
of Marga, which is the capital of the Kingdom of Astoria. It has two parts,
and is simple to navigate. Everything else takes place on the various battlefields
of Alfheim, or the Grimoire (custom dungeon creator for grinding/farming).
> The battle system is straight forward, real-time action. Once the player
sets up his party (up to three partners), Force abilities, weapon Aspects
(attributes), B.A.N.D. options (buffs) and "Bond Diagram" (character interactions),
it's time to walk into an enemy and begin the fight. The player is free
to move around a pre-determined circular area, or exit to run away. Real-time
fighting consists of basic attack/special attack (AP), block, dash, and
Force abilities (use MP). The B.A.N.D. meter builds up as one battles,
and has three levels. When the time is right (tactically), one can play
the B.A.N.D. rune song, which bestows buffs or debuffs until the meter
reaches zero, or the battle is over. At any point, one can pause to switch
the controlled party member, and use items to heal or buff. If the party
dies, one can restart the battle or go to the start screen. The only thing
I would change is to allow toggling characters on-the-fly.
> As I said before, Yuma has one ability all to himself: he can transform
into the Shining Dragon. While the dragon is used, MP slowly drains to
zero, and Yuma morphs back into a human. Initially, Yuma will loose control
of the Shining Dragon, if he allows the MP meter to reach zero before reverting.
Later on, that annoyance is removed as Yuma becomes more familiar with
the nuances of controlling such immense power. For the dragon (at least),
it would've been nice to have a HUD to display what the buttons do. Other
than that, being a Shining Dragon is very cool.
> Shining Resonance Refrain is full of orchestral melodies
that soothe one into letting time pass. There are various jingles to denote
events, like battle conclusion, Force usage, and so on. I'm not going to
say I was blown away by the soundtrack, but it is surely delightful and
well suited for every situation.
> The sound effects are great, and include explosions, gun fire, enemy
roars, various magical effects, and magic casting. As for the voice acting:
I'd say it's well done, and Sega did a great job of finding
the right actors to pair with the proper characters. No complaints here.
> Shining Resonance Refrain never overwhelms the player with
things to do, places to go, or controls to learn. It's meant to be played
through more than once. This game does not feature a huge, never ending,
open-world realm. It does have a fairly sized, multi-track map of locations
that can be freely accessed, once visited. The battle system is easy to
learn and implement. There's hundreds of items to acquire, purchase, craft
and collect. There's even a nifty vending machine that dispenses virtual
statues of everybody in the game. Of course, one can spend hours setting
up and fine tuning the numerous weapon Aspects, Force abilities, and B.A.N.D.
runes. And let's not forget about the dating system, which is fun to experience.
Anyway, there's an interesting story to tell, and I found myself really
being attached to the main characters by the end of the game. In all, I
spent 50+ hours on my first play through (Original Mode).
> Now, it's time to run through on Refrain Mode, and experience the game
with two extra characters and various side story elements. This time, I'll
pursue the Rinna's ending path. I may have something to add to this section
in the future.
> Shining Resonance Refrain the first part of Sega's
2018 trifecta, which will be completed by the forthcoming release of Shenmue
I&II and Valkyria Chronicles 4. I'm really glad
Sega decided a worldwide release of Shining Resonance
Refrain was in order. It's available on all current platforms:
XB1, PS4, Switch, and Steam. This remaster offers bonus content
that's welcome, and adds value. If one desires to play a great action/RPG
with fantastic characters and a soothing musical score, then Sega
has the goods: Shining Resonance Refrain, ftw. I think their
next order of business should be "Shining Force III Complete".
Sega, please make it so.
|Overall: 8.5 | Graphics:
8.0 | Control: 9.0 | Sound: 8.5 | Fun: 8.5