Shining Resonance Refrain PS4 Review
Shining Resonance Refrain is the newest addition to Sega’s long running “Shining” series of games (Force/Soul/etc). While all of the games take place in the same universe, none of the previous titles need to be played to pick up this title, as it has very little to do with the previous. This title, leaning heavily on the musical influence hinted at the resonance part of its name, has the players wield Armonics – something like a weapon/instrument that is used during battle. The question is if the long running pedigree and mixture of something new is enough to make this game stand out from simply being a paint by numbers JRPG.
Mechanically Shining Resonance is entirely sound, even radiating at certain points. The battle system is enjoyable, and while the music system is continually brought up it is never something the player has to show any amount of coordination for. Armonics, or the game’s weapons, become more “in tune” the more that they are used, making each weapon something additional to be leveled up. There is a limit break system that leans on a musical theme as well, but once again, aside from the name and theme the knowledge of music ends there.
Some of the problems with the systems in the game, though, come in more mild flavors. For instance, the quest list, of events the player has accepted, is only mapped to the R2 button and can’t be found in the main menu—not game break, but odd. Save points, also, are not always placed at the best locations throughout the game; something that can make it rather annoying when an unexpected boss encounter pops up after several hours of gameplay. Possibly the most annoying of all, though, is that it is difficult to track what enemies drop what items. Item crafting is used heavily to help easy battle in the game in various ways, and when any items are missing it can randomly become a pain to track them down without resorting to outside sources.
The Refrain part of the title comes from the fact that this is a slight re-release of sorts, as this game already came out on the PS3 a little while ago. This iteration comes with all of the DLC included in the original allowing the player to start the game with it. This has the odd effect of making the game easier in the beginning of the game, as the player has a full party in the very beginning of the game via DLC characters, and oddly break the game in others, as the game doesn’t seem to take into consideration how it swaps them in and out while adding party members—even before a boss fight. The one thing to note is that the game also incorrectly notes that Refrain mode “should only be played by people who have experience the full game before.” This is not true, as it is just the normal game with DLC. Ignore that and jump in.
The plot of the game is pretty standard fair for JRPG, an evil empire wants to dominate everything and a plucky, yet unrealistically good, kingdom is standing up to them. In a world filled with Yakuza games where every plot feels like it needs to be as dark, cynical, gritty, and realistic as possible, it is kind of refreshing to find a title that is just a fun and relaxing change of pace—as trope filled as it might be.
Shining Resonance Refrain is a great game for anyone that is looking forward to picking up a light title that they can pick up and not put a ton of thought into. It might not be winning any great awards in the upcoming year, but the honest truth is that sometimes there is a need for a pallet cleanser between games. While it might not be something that sticks with the player for the rest of their life, it is something that is enjoyable enough to play through once.