Blue Reflection: Second Light

released on Oct 21, 2021

Blue Reflection: Second Light follows Ao Hoshizaki, a girl who attends summer school for supplementary classes and becomes lost in an unknown world. She meets three girls — Kokoro Utsubo, Yuki Kinjou, and Renya Miyauchi — who have lost their memories and live in an isolated school surrounded by water. One day, a path and portal leading to another world appears and the girls decide to go through it. They eventually come across a monster and unlock a power that lets them fight back. In addition, Blue Reflection protagonist Hinako Shirai will appear in the game having also lost her memories.

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Great story, characters, and atmosphere.
Mediocre gameplay, boring combat, and ultra-shitty sneaking missions.
Still enjoy it more than Persona 5.

Simply put the most heartwarming game I might’ve ever played in my life. As I fall deeper into the Atelier rabbit hole, Gust has been instrumental in giving me some of the freshest & most memorable experiences when it comes to comforting RPGs & Blue Reflection: Second Light is the best of the bunch. It’s been a while since something has made me smile as much as this did whether it was the beautifully crafted heartscapes or the wonderfully written characters. This is a really lovely game which reminded me of why sometimes simplicity is beautiful in itself with this genre.
Also based Gust for giving an ACTUALLY well developed lesbian couple?? Which doesn’t feel tacked on for brownie points?? And serves the narrative?? Unheard of in modern gaming I tell you.
Honestly I really struggle to find any issues I have with this game & any ones I do have are nitpicks & nothing major that detract from my overall enjoyment. This is just a really charming piece of art & well worth playing if you’re into JRPGs & looking for something truly special. I simply adore this game. Play it.

I just started it this morning and I think.. I've fallen in love......

Probably the most heartwarming game I'll ever play in my lifetime.
Tie feels like it really focuses on a completely different direction from what the first game and even Ray did which makes the whole experience feel entirely unique and makes it definitely worth giving a shot for everyone who enjoyed any of the other entries. The game's journey is definitely the highlight of the entire thing as you go through your adventures with the rest of the cast but this in turn sets up the destination and it's twist to be a crazy ride. Insanely beautiful dungeon designs, really varied and memorable OST, very lovable cast and main character, and just a rollercoaster of a ride all throughout.

This review contains spoilers

I want to leave something here for the beginning. This will be long and personal. I apologize for how long this could get or maybe too personal but I really want to talk about a lot with this game. I would recommend not reading this if you seriously don't want spoilers. I have a lot to say. So much about this game.
I want to start off with a story. You see I got this game last year for Christmas. I can't even fully remember what made me ask for the game to be honest. I do remember thinking the game looked really cool. I should note I have not played the first game or watched the Anime for the series. I only knew that you could play this game without playing the first. I heard mixed things about the first game anyway so it's not a huge lost.
So I got the game, I played for at least 3 hours. I really liked what I played but a moment happened that caused a long time for me to actually sit down and play it. It's embarrassing to admit but it was because, my switch got hot when the game was playing and for some reason it made me paranoid like the switch was going to break. So I just didn't touch it again. There was one other time this year I wanted to play it but I had the same struggle in my mind. Even with the worries, I still thought about the game. Wondering what I'd think of it. I really enjoyed the few hours I had with it but it never went further then that sadly.
We then move into this month where I was thinking of either playing Atelier Sophie or Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. But my mind just kept thinking about Blue Reflection: Tie (that's the japanese name btw). I really wanted to play through it. I told myself that this time I will do it. I had a goal to complete this before the year ended. I started on December 11th. I only knew the game was apparently 39 and a half hours long according to howlongtobeat. I would also check and see the game was also 11 chapters. Otherwise most of the game was me going through it blind. This was the experience I had playing Blue Reflection: Tie.
The story is a thing that I will never admit to be able to critique well in really any game. As much as I want to think I can review well, it's one of the things I've always struggled with. But with all that in mind. I really like the story here. It to me feels like watching an anime at times. Sure it's not really all that high budget as the cutscenes mostly consistent of the same few motion capture animations for characters for animations but there's something about the characters that just do it for me. The premise in some ways is linear but I always loved how I never really knew where the story was heading. It's something that even till the very end, I just wanted to know what would happen. Now this will always be up to the person, I'm sure some would scoff and not get much from it but to me I think the plot really works well because...
The characters are just so great. There's a bunch you'll meet in the game. You only meet with 3 characters in the prologue of the game. You play as a girl named Ao Hoshizaki for the whole game. You'll meet many faces throughout the game and well I really like them with the likes of Kokoro who is this girl who always seems so fun to be around, Rena who made be stubborn at times but is one I latched onto a lot during my playthrough, Yuki, a mysterious girl who actually had an arc that really surprised me, Shiho who was really sweet and just lovable someone you just can't help but smile at, Hinako who may not be the most interesting to me but I love her relationship with Yuzu and Lime, those two girls are what started the whole set of events and why the girls are here. There's also Kirara, a girl who could originally see the Divine and was basically treated poorly by her father, she's rather odd but charming. Hiori and Mio are sisters who only had a single mother who vanished one day and the two together make for an interesting duo and I really like the feelings they had for each other not in a incest way btw cause like no that would suck. But you know what I mean. The last one is Uta who is rather weird, she was originally this evil twisted girl who wanted to change the world in her image but thanks to the memory lost everyone except Ao got, she has a different personality from who she was before and it's all just a mystery for what's going to happen to her.
When you go into these things the girls have called a Heartspace, you get to learn all about their pasts and what it was like before they came to this new world. You don't have to get them if you don't have any interest but they have an aura to them that give me the feels. With the watercolor aesthetic and the pure black forms of the past of characters making them feel mysterious like you can only paint a picture through their conversation. It makes exploring the worlds more interesting as you get to really see how each character was. Their Heartscapes also represent the place and interactions they had and they all do a wonderful job of setting the place for each girl. It somehow feels otherworldly and yet still realistic to what the setting originally could have been.
The game has a nice hub, it's later called the Oasis. This is where you'll do stuff like interacting with the other girls, adding new places to the place to change your stats in battles, crafting new items, and even going on dates with your friends. Though it's nothing really romantic, it's kind of more just having fun with your friends. The Oasis is designed like a school which gives it a feel that I'm sure isn't too unfamiliar to stuff like Persona, I think those took place in schools? I haven't played them yet so I wouldn't know. I like how at first it feels so empty and mysterious, not even every room is able to go into making it even more weird for myself. But once you find everybody it really does feel more lively, just seeing everyone interact with the stuff you build or just hanging around the Oasis. The game also doesn't want you to waste your time as you have very many convient fast travel options but sometimes it's nice to just enjoy the setting especially with the nice cheery music it presents. There's also different songs for conversations depending on the time and while it may get repetitive for some, they are really lovely pieces.
In fact the music is one of the brighter spots of Blue Reflection: Tie. Gust is a company I'm not too aware of, but when I played Atelier Ryza last year, I was impressed with the OST. It's really good stuff, it reminds me of Falcom where they aren't AAA studio status but yet still make some of the biggest bangers to exist in gaming. This game has a lot of lovely pieces. If you asked me what would I first think of when I hear the music, I think of the piano. The atmosphere just fits so well with what happens. While not every track is memorable, it fits the settings so well that I don't personally mind. When I would go back into previous Heartscapes, sometimes I teared up thinking about the journey, hearing the music again and just thinking how long it's been I've been playing this wonderful game. It's nice to see Gust really does do good music for their games. I do wish you could edit what plays where though like in Ryza, it's not really a negative but it could have been neat.
With all the non battle stuff here, it's good to know that when you are battling that it's a joyful time. I'm a little picky when it comes to what I like in battles. I won't say a specific style can hurt a game for me but I think being boring is the worst thing you can do. This game does not bore me because the battles have this order ring where you have to gain ether by waiting for their icon to be at certain checkpoints. Doing attacks will increase how much your max ether is for the battle. I like this because it not only lets some strategy get involved especially when you gain more party members but it means I have to focus everytime which is great because I'm engaged. I never find battles dull and I went out of my way to do them when I could. Though this game is not too challenging, you can't even play the game's hard mode or update that adds Deathwish mode. You need to beat the game once to unlock them which I feel could hurt someone who only wants challenge in their RPG.
That said however, I didn't mention the fact this game has a magical girl theme to it. I love magical girl stuff, some of my favorite Anime like Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, Cardcaptor Sakura, Madoka, and Precure are magical girl series. You'll get these forms called Reflector when your Gear level is at 3. They even have a transformation sequence that feels satisfying to earn. You'll gain even more powerful attacks when in this and when in the heat of a battle it feels very exciting. You really do feel like a character out of those anime. I do like however that if you get sick of them, you can choose to have them just change and not interupt the fight, again appealing to all crowds. You can ever later unlock this Ether Tide move where you can do this really powerful attack that feels so satisfying to watch your character do it. Again it really does feel like a Magical girl thing which makes me really happy. I feel like an amazing person pulling this stuff off making me wish I could do the same irl but maybe that makes me sound kind of cringe idk.
There's also 1-1 fights with bosses and I'm kind of mixed on them, if you can defeat them or get a good combo then you can do a stunning finisher on them all of which are pretty cool. The only gripe I have is this was probably me not paying attention but I could never figure out how the counter works. I swear no matter what I did I only got it to work once and I didn't know how. I feel like an idiot honestly but otherwise it's a nice alternative to get more of a combo.
Oh right I didn't even mention one of the cooler aspects of the battles where every hit adds to the combo counter which makes you do more damage and it's satisfying seeing the numbers rack up as you keep fighting. Bosses can seem like damage sponges where you wonder how will this be possible but by the end of the fight I was amazed so much just how powerful I felt. It really gives good feedback to just how strong you can be and also again leads to more strategy.
I also love every party member you can play as. Ao is a character who can provide a shield to stop bosses from ending your combo and she has a lot of powerful attacks using different elements. Kokoro is a powerful girl but with a weak defense though makes up for it with high HP. She's also good for getting statuses on your enemy like Stun or Slow. Rena is a good defense character who can help your team out for small healing or helping with knockback. Her moves aren't the strongest but she isn't useless when she needs to fight. Shiho is really good for stuff like speeding up your characters on the order ring, help with statuses giving you more HP then what Rena can and can provide some great damage. She was a character I relied on if I felt like I could be in danger. Hinako is amazing if you want high combos as she can add 2 to a combo with an attack or even give it to one of her teammates if she isn't the most helpful for attacks in a fight. Hiori is good at using two elements and can make an enemy weak to them more with the attacks she has. She's not one of my favorites personally but she's fun to have at times. You also can have a support for giving special benefits like restoring some health but don't rely on it 100% as it can fail to work but they will still be a nice help. You can even switch them in if a character is down or in danger.
Man I know it's annoying for me to say this but I wish the Switch was better. Sadly this game seems to share the same engine they use for their current Atelier games. This means stuff like shadows look awful at times and the framerate isn't the best in some areas. I won't blame the game as this is more Nintendo's fault but I do wonder what it be like if I had a PS4 or a good PC. Thankfully it's playable and the only bad loading time is when you start up the game. Still it's times like this I really wish that new console is upon us but maybe I just need to lighten up a little.
One thing I did throughout all my sessions is I used the photo mode because I thought it be fun to capture all of my fun times with each session. I made tweets for them if you for some reason want to see them but yeah it really did feel good to look at them. It made me happy seeing the memories I'll have in the future looking back. It makes me cry a little not gonna lie...
Really Blue Reflection: Tie is just so amazing because well there's nothing really that bad about it in my eyes. I thought it was amazing throughout. When I was thinking about this game everyday, I was hoping when I got to this point, I would say this is one of the best games ever made and well it was. For me personally, god I hate having to keep saying that I just don't wanna look stupid. There's no moment that makes me mad or frustrated. This game even has stealth, STEALTH! That stuff is usually a thing I despise but here, yeah it's limited but it's functionable. It really goes to show just how enjoyable the adventure is. I was surprised the game was also very safe on not showing fanservice. Sure there are a couple of things that can be a little weird especially some of the dialogue options but it's nothing really degenerate. I'm happy I won't feel ashamed having played this not that I would care anyway.
I took about 53 hours to see the whole adventure through. I didn't 100% or anything but I did most of the sidequests. I think there was only 2 I didn't do but otherwise I did most of the game and again that says a lot about my enjoyment of the game as I rarely do sidequests in RPGs. I know that sounds dumb but they just don't do much for me in a lot of RPGs, there's exceptions but not many. There's also DLC and I saw some rather dumb costume DLC, I remember Ryza did that too. Sorry I just don't like that stuff. I don't really care for DLC so I'm content with what I did.
I think this is where I'll stop with the review. I probably missed some things I could have mentioned but in the end I love this game. I'm not gonna say everyone will love this game but for me, it made me happy. For a person like me who is frequently depressed, a person who doesn't really have many games that have sentimental memories attatched. I was happy when I finished. I loved the experience, I even cried a little of joy just seeing that I did it. I played a game that I loved from beginning to end. I'll gladly replay it someday. I'm not sure if a sequel will ever come, I know there's a mobile game next year but I don't care for mobile. If a third game arrives to the switch or whatever is next for Nintendo, expect me to get it day 1. This is my third favorite game ever made currently and my number 1 RPG. If you got this far then wow I'm sorry you probably read one of the worst things ever written on this site. This is the last game I'm playing for this year. I will see you all on January 1st. Hope you all have a Happy New Years Eve on Saturday. Thank you Gust for making one of the best games I've ever played. I'll never forget you Blue Reflection: Tie. You'll live in my heart forever with all of the memories. All good things come to an end and I'm happy to say goodbye on this note. I'll miss them anyway but I know I'll see them again someday...