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  1. #1

    [NSW, PC, PS4, XBO] Shining Resonance Refrain

    The original Shining Resonance came out in 2014 on the PS3 and is still a Japan exclusive. I've just received the Japanese PS4 version of its port/remake/remaster/whatever, Shining Resonance Refrain; it'll come out in Europe and America later this year on Switch, PC, PS4, and X Box On. Japan got only the PS4 version, at least for now.

    Shining Resonance Refrain adds a second campaign that wasn't i n the PS3 version, and as the game alerts you before beginning it, it's better to complete the original storyline before starting it.Refrain also makes all costumes that were paid DLC on the PS3 available right from the start.

    Other than that, Refrain is a straight port of the PS3 version, only rendering at a higher resolution and the framerate seemingly locked at 30fps (maybe due to the Switch?). Audio is 5.1 but the voices, coming from the center channel, sound muffled and not as clear as other sound effects or music.
    Graphics are exactly the same as the PS3, which is very disappointing: it's easy to notice that chapter title cards, textboxes, and a lot of textures have jaggies pointing out to either a simple upscaling, either done outside the game or left to the PS4 to handle on the run. If you've played Valkyria Chronicles Remaster it's the same situation, only a tad better here.

    As for the game...well, I've recently (and not so recently) went through action titles by Falcom (Tokyo Xanadu eX+ and Ys VIII) and started Nier Automata last Friday, and Shining Resonance comes out pretty bad in the comparison.
    The game plays as any other JRPG, only that battles begin when you touch the enemies roaming the map, are in real time, and play as an action game. There are two attacks you can string is simple combos, a stamina meter, and special skills; combat feels decent enough but again, compared to some recent played titles, it feels stiff and uninteresting.

    I can't really comment on the title yet (just played a little more than an hour) but Shining Resonance feels a bit like a rushed job, at least on the technical side.

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Just finished the game on the Switch.
    I've first played a bit on the PS3, then left it alone. I've started it again on the PS4 and left it alone once again. On the Switch I've buckled up and finished the game after in little less than 30 hours, leaving a lot of sidequests and the endgame content undone.
    Resolution aside PS3, PS4, and Switch all look the same and have the same framerate; one thing is that the 2D interface in both PS4 and Switch versions seems lifted straight from the PS3 with just a simple upscaling, and not a particularly effective one at that, though it's not as bad as it was in Valkyria Chronicles Remaster. The Switch version changes between docked and handheld mode effortlessy, and again between the two modes there's no visible difference in visual quality and framerate.
    Now, before I go a bit deeper into the game, let me say that this is one of those JRPGs that tease you with content and doesn't give it tou you until the very end or doesn't give it all. I'm referring to Excella, featured prominently on the front cover of this game, who is only playable in Refrain mode. Even if the New Game screen says otherwise, play in Refrain mode from start even if you haven't played it before.

    So, SRR is a JRPG with real-time combat, based around simple three/four hit combos and spells/special attacks activated by L/L1+face buttons. All playable characters gain a respectable amount of special skills but you only have four available at a time, making casters like Kirika and Rinna a bit painful to use, as you need to dive into a lot of menus to activate spells not assigned to the in-battle menu. Using items is a pain as well, there's no quick button to access those like in Falcom titles.

    However...there's no real need to use items or dig for spells once one caster has the basic healing and the resurrection spells assigned. There are two difficulty modes, casual and normal, and in normal there's essentially nothing being able to stop you. I've completed the game with the main party below level 65, and the final boss was level 83. I've also faced multiple enemies at level 96 and nothing was able to really make things hard, even by ignoring two of the game's special mechanics. As items were completely useless I've ended the game with 500k plus gold and I have absolutely no idea what you need it for. There's also an alchemy mechanic to create items and gems to infuse weapons but...well, I did use it a couple of times to complete some sidequests.
    You acquire new weapons for all characters, but once I've settled with one I've never changed it.

    Shining Resonance Refrain has two special mechanics: Yuma, the main character, can turn into a dragon, and the party members can use their weird weird/musical instruments tools to play music scores (B.A.N.D.) to bestow the party special abilities.
    Yuma's transformation is linked to his MPs, and if his MPs run low, the dragon can go berserk and kill everyone in sight, party members included. This interesting mechanic is rendered useless once you gain access to B.A.N.D. as the dragon won't go berserk as the party is playing. Battles against bosses and strong enemies turn immediately into activating B.A.N.D., turning Yuma into a dragon, and hammer than attack button until all enemies at hand are defeated.
    It is a system with a lot of potential, but it's underdeveloped. It never quite gets boring, but surely it could have been more interesting: maybe going the same route Falcom went with Ys VIII or Tokyo Xanadu would have been much better, but then again the original Resonance came out before those two.

    Shining Resonance Refrain is nothing special, but it's a serviceable JRPG that can be played without too much commitment.

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