Shinning Resonance Refrain Review
When Shinning Resonance Refrain first launched exclusively in Japan on the PS3 a number of years ago, the reaction to the title was fairly mixed. Now many years later, the developers have determined that new HD version of the game was necessary to pull in a Western audience, and thanks to the developers, we were able to review the experience on PS4. Is the game worth playing a second time, all these years later? Was enough added to make it different? Let’s dive in!
What You Need to Know
The first thing you cannot overlook when loading up the game for the first time is the fantastic voice acting and depth of the story. Although I’ve never played the original released on PS3, having discussion with friends who have played the original and are now taking the game for a spin a second time, still say how wonderful the voice work and story is. Whether a long time fan of the game, or a new player just starting out, there seems to be a constant feeling on this aspect of the game.
And really, it’s not unlike most Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs). The beginning of the game is likely to really confuse you, but a fantastic opening chapter does a excellent job setting you up for your long adventure that awaits. Through a great mechanics tutorial and story introduction, players will have everything they need to set out on their journey within the first few hours. Jus plan on listening / reading a lot of dialogue. If there is one downside to the game, it’s the lengthy cut scenes that, although are fantastically done, really slow the pace of the game.
You’ll run around the world as Yuma, a young man with dragon powers buried deep within his soul. Dragons are the key theme to this experience, and harnessing the power of the dragon within him is part of the storyline that players will need to unravel as they go. With the help of various characters – and additional characters previously unplayable if you choose to play “Refrain Mode” – Yuma will need to understand himself as he moves to defeat the evil force bent on destroying the world, and him personally.
Shinning Resonance Refrain is a mishmash of JRPGs of the last few decades, mixing live action combat with musical overtones via weapons, dragons, and much more to create an interesting experience unlike anything I’ve ever played before. The best part is: despite the early learning curve, it does all come together well into a great package.
Every JRPG seems to have its own gimmick, and this experience isn’t unlike anything else. Your party members – called Dragoneers – will wield powerful musical weapons that can unleash major attacks when filling special meters in combat. This attacks utilize rune songs to, and characters will work together to use a B.A.N.D. attack. These attacks have various benefits, some of which can only be used and unlocked when a character is wearing a specific costume.
And this brings us to customization. While you cannot personally customize your character in Shinning Resonance Refrain, you can unlock numerous costumes during your adventures. These are various ways to unlock these costumes, but as noted above, they don’t just provide an aesthetic difference. Some are key to performing specific moves and rune songs in battle, so finding them all and experimenting with them will add ours to your time with the game.
Does it Work
The ultimate question then becomes, does everything we talked about above work well together? For the most part, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Everything beginnings fairly simply – as we noted, Chapter 1 and 2 act as lengthy tutorials for the game, slowly folding in new gameplay elements – but gets increasingly more difficult as the game progresses. I wasn’t a huge fan of the amount of grinding required to sufficiently level up my characters for future fights within the game, especially since this isn’t really required until about the midpoint where you quickly hit a brick wall.
But outside of that, and the frequent pacing issues, the melding of popular JRPG elements into one experience works well. The game focuses on the hub city of Marga, which is a great city to explore and contains dozens upon dozens of side quests to complete. However major cities to explore would have been a nice added feature.
The refreshed Shinning Resonance Refrain experience on the Xbox One is something I’m glad I indulged in. While not the greatest JRP I’ve ever played, I still enjoyed the characters and writing enough to push through until the end. The musical overtones were excellent as well, and had it not been for the pacing issues at times, this would have been a top notch experience, highly recommended for everyone. As it stands now, fans of JRPG’s will find lots to love here, but those unfamiliar with the genre should look elsewhere for their first experience.