Dungeon crawling, combat, and a dash of dating; these core ingredients fuel what makes Blue Reflection: Second Light. It’s the sequel to 2017’s Blue Reflection by developer Gust and publisher Koei Tecmo. While it’s unfortunately the first game isn’t on the Nintendo Switch, there’s no need to play it to get the grasp of its sequel. A fresh set of characters await you to adventure off into the new world.
Blue Reflection: Second Light tells a story of a group of schoolgirls who are isolated on school grounds without their memory. It takes a chapter from the slice of life genre with deep, dark mysteries to unfold. The majority of chapters in the game feel like character introductions; however, it’s a lot more engaging than it sounds. Before I knew it and without playing the first game, it quickly grew on me.
Each chapter of the game felt refreshing. You will, of course, learn a lot about the characters who dwell in the school and build relationships with them. These characters all have unique characteristics and it’s going to be an all-girl cast throughout the game. If you’re looking for a happy-go-lucky magical slice of life adventure, Blue Reflection: Second Light wouldn’t fully deliver. While the game does fit that bill in some aspects, it’s not afraid to get a little dark and interestingly twisted.
The game is situated on school grounds. You’ll have to build up facilities and interact with other characters while awaiting the appearance of new areas to explore. It starts off a bit slow and can even be confusing if you have not played the first title; however, it eventually becomes clearer.
One of the first things I noticed when starting my adventure was how relaxing it was to explore the Heartlands and collect items. The eerie-looking text in the overworld and the sound effects make for a unique feeling while exploring. The music helps exponentially with this, but movement also plays its part. It’s just what you’d expect from a game made by GUST and Koei Tecmo. Motion feels smooth and there are little to no performance hiccups while traversing the world or passing by the roaming enemies.
The majority of Heartlands to explore have been straightforward. You won’t find any overly-complicated puzzles when playing this game. There are a small number of areas where the possibility of getting stuck is high, but still may not take too long to find the answer. Traveling through the many areas of this game feels more of a laidback experience to appreciate the surroundings and mostly the music.
The real-time command-style battle system is where Blue Reflection: Second Light shines brightly. Enemies are fought in a party of three members with one backup character. Each character’s turn is determined by how fast they can build up EP during a match. Stack up on EP and unleash skills in exchange for it. The fast-paced combat is guaranteed to keep you on your toes and it’s not too tough to control all of the characters at once. Even if it does become overwhelming, the game’s auto-combat mode relieves you of two characters’ actions.
It’s going to be difficult to tire from combat in this game. Each battle is truly exhilarating. The game knows when to play the character transformation scenes and when to skip them, rarely making these scenes feel repetitive. Through patience, the use of items, and building up your characters with good talents and fragments, you can become a force to be reckoned with. Blue Reflection: Second Light will always hold a place in my heart for one of the best combat systems in an RPG for the Nintendo Switch.
The bosses in this game aren’t iconic, but they are in the plentiful. The same can be said about the roaming enemies in the overworld. It’s not a difficult task avoiding the small fry; however, there have been some annoying situations where they may wait for you as soon as you climb a ladder or come at you from behind during a scene where you open a door. It’s strange to see such things in this game if their movement is paused in others, but escaping from a battle is quick and simple if it becomes a nuisance.
One vs One
One of the unique mechanics in this game is the One vs One combat. Once randomly triggered during a battle, the chosen character will face the boss-tier enemy alone. This fast-paced combat is capable of knocking you down if you fail to get the timing right. You’ll have to strike the foe as much as you can before dodging or countering their blow. Mess up on the timing of their attack and you’ll be one character short during the rest of the battle.
Blue Reflection: Second Light is a game with a handful of girls and you’ll have the ability to date each one of them. While you won’t get lovey dovey with any of the characters in the game, you will be able to get to know them better through the dating system. There’s a large number of dates you can have with the characters and finishing each rewards you with a fragment to power up your party members.
Initiating a date with a character slows down movement speed to a horribly slow level; however, it’s not bad at all since the game provides an option to fast-travel to the date destination. These slow strolls may not be all bad, though. There will be event points to trigger for additional cutscenes while you make your way to your date destination.
Crafting plays a major role in this game. There aren’t any stores where you can purchase healing or stat boosting items. Instead, you’re going to have to gather materials and craft these items from the recipes you’ve learned. Some of the most essential items will require you to farm them from specific enemies, especially if you’re determined to upgrade the bulk of your facilities.
From time to time, a character will ask you to fulfill one of their optional requests. Doing so may reward you with an item or TP, which can be used to unlock skills for your characters. The quest system in this game shows that effort has been put into each one. There’s a different dialogue for each quest you can accept and not all are easy to accomplish, making them worthwhile.
Stealth missions become available to complete every once in a while. These quests are usually given to you by characters after finishing their Heartscape chapter. You won’t be able to engage enemies in these missions. Instead, you’ll have to utilize stealth mode by pressing B to see the range of sight from these passing enemies. If you’re caught, you’re sent back to the beginning of the area to do it all over again.
Thankfully, these missions aren’t long and can easily be completed with caution. It can get tricky at times; however, the system can be gamed through manually saving data. If it does reach a point where it’s begun to be exceedingly annoying, this trick can always be taken advantage of to reap the rewards from these missions. Still, there’s always that rewarding feeling from properly avoiding all of the enemies in a single run.
Graphics and Performance
The game can be summed up with one word: pretty. It runs amazing on the Nintendo Switch. There is rarely any lag during combat or when exploring the world. A part of the main character’s transformation has a noticeable three-second delay during specific parts of the game, but it’s far from a game breaker. There was, however, one glitch that was; I got myself stuck off the map once, and at that point, I did not know I could open the map and return to the screen, hence losing my progress. It was a little disappointing, but I’ve learned not to press forward into water-filled areas in the Heartland.
There aren’t many free outfits you can change into in the game. Some characters have access to unique costumes, but most do not. However, if it’s one costume that every character has access to, it’s the one-piece swimsuit, which may not be too appealing to most. You’ll have to fork up some extra cash if you want to experience the game with varying costumes that all characters have access to.
Blue Reflection: Second Light’s soundtrack is breathtaking. It sets the perfect atmosphere for each area and every battle. Even the cutscenes mix well with the tunes that are played. It’s a game where you should expect your shoes to be knocked off your feet. The scenes give off emotion you can feel with the help of the background music.
Blue Reflection: Second Light truly delivers with its exhilarating combat system and a great cast of characters. It’s a joy to explore the game’s world and become immersed in its story. That said, it does have its minor shortcomings. You won’t find any memorable enemies in the game. Additionally, grinding for materials does get wearisome with having to backtrack to previous areas just to craft vital battle items.
Blue Reflection: Second Light gets a 9/10.