I’m usually not the sort to buy a game and leave it unfinished. Games are expensive things afters all, so spending all that money only to not wind up getting your money’s worth doesn’t really make sense to me. There are times though where a game just doesn’t jive with me. I’ll do my best to give it a chance to get good, but I’m not always able to do it; it’s just too annoying. Shining Resonance: Refrain is one of those games.
I honestly thought I’d enjoy Shining Resonance: Refrain. It’s a action-oriented JRPG with a fantasy setting, dragons, a battle feature called B.A.N.D. and allies that at least looked interesting. I held-off for about a year before getting it because it received average reviews at launch, and I wanted to wait for the price to go down. Well, go down it did and I ordered it up a couple of weeks ago. “Surely there’s something about this that’ll be unique and interesting,” I thought. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case. As much as I enjoy a good JRPG, Shining Resonance: Refrain just isn’t for me.
From the beginning, the game is more than a little tropey. It has warriors that double as musicians, a boring protagonist who’s convinced they’re a burden on everyone around them, a villain who’s evil for no apparent reason (at least at first) and the fate of the world resting in the hands of a small group of teenagers. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in other mediums, and it was honestly a bit disappointing to see this game cling so closely to the formula. I wouldn’t really have taken issue with it, but Shining Resonance: Refrain sticks with it to the point of hurting itself.
First problem is the main character, Yuma. I’ve already mentioned that he’s bland and annoyingly down on himself; what I forgot to mention is that he’s the key to saving the world for some reason (he’s got a powerful dragon spirit living in him). He’s also extremely popular with his female companions despite displaying little merit beyond being generally nice and occasionally helpful. There’s nothing about him that stands out other than being mostly expressionless, yet he somehow has the charisma to draw much more interesting people to him? Yeah, okay. It also doesn’t help that all alternate costumes are either swimsuits or a school uniform for some reason (oh and all side conversations are in first-person too.)Again, this is nothing new, so I was willing to deal with it and try to get something out of the story and combat; that didn’t work out either.
The combat in this game is boring. The game makes it sound tactical, but it’s hard to be so when your NPC party members insist on getting up into the face of every enemy and boss despite your ordering them to hold back and/or focus on healing. Outside of that, every battle has the same flow: hit, stagger, magic attacks, maybe a dragon transformation and repeat. That B.A.N.D. system mentioned earlier is nothing more than a minor temporary buff which doesn’t seem to make any noticeable impact. Combine all this with an oddly high difficulty level and you get a game that I cannot wait to put down.
Despite all this, I don’t think Shining Resonance: Refrain is a bad game. Rather, I think it’s an average game that is absolutely not for me. If it did something to deviate from standard fantasy formula and didn’t make its combat so simultaneously difficult and bland, I might’ve thought otherwise. As it stands though, this is just a game that pushes all the wrong buttons and misses all of the right ones. More hardcore JRPG fans might like it, more more casual players would do well to look elsewhere.
Have you ever played a game that just rubbed you the wrong way? Was it actually bad, or was it just not for you? What did it do to push you away?
Lede image from Steam Store