It has been quite some time since a Shining game was released outside of Japan. Sega has been keeping the series alive, but our last exposure to it was Shining Force EXA on the PlayStation 2. (Unless, of course, you count the spin-off Blade Arcus from Shining: Battle Arena.) Shining Resonance Refrain is another chance and fresh start for folks. It is an opportunity to see what has been happening with the series while it has been on its hiatus. And, as far as early impressions go, it appears to maintain a certain feeling that keeps familiar elements in mind. Indeed, its initial impressions are about helping us understand what battles are like.
The first thing to know going in is that Shining Resonance Refrain belongs to a whole different genre than some of the more popular installments released worldwide. It is not a strategy-RPG, like Shining Force, or a dungeon-crawling RPG, like Shining in the Darkness. This is an action-RPG, like Shining Force EXA. Battles are active and you must be aware of party members’ skills and specialties. In fact, the first part of the demo is designed to help people understand what to expect.
It begins with Sonia Blanche, Astoria’s leader, taking her troops on a rescue mission into an Empire prison to set an unknown individual free. We learn how to move her around the field to reach destinations and trigger battles. When a fight begins, there is no loading screen or cut to a special area. The brawl takes place exactly where you stand, with characters using standard attacks, break attacks that can temporarily incapacitate them and weaken their defenses and force abilities that are special attacks. We get to see how she, a very in-your-face attacker, deals with enemies.
What is also interesting is how the Shining Resonance Refrain takes this early opportunity to show how a more unconventional character works in the game. One of the other stars in the introduction is Kirika. She is an archer wielding a legendary bow who can use Rune Songs to communicate with and influence dragons. In her battle segment, we see how important keeping away from foes is. We have to adjust our tactics in this sample where she is the only party member, moving around the field to maintain distance, while using skills to attack multiple opponents at once.
Once Yuma joins the party, we get a chance to see how a nearly full party works in Shining Resonance Refrain. He is in the lead and under our direct control, while the computer handles Sonia and Kirika’s actions. As the three attack a dragon boss, we get a better idea of how to handle a creature who telegraphs certain sorts of attacks. We are able to plot out striking when a foe is charging up, so we can initiate a break that gives us a chance to beat down an enemy without fear of reprisal. We see how people will function together, with Kirika offering support as a healer and backline attacker, while Sonia aids Yuma in being an irritant and direct attacker.
Shining Resonance Refrain is going to be an opportunity for people. It is a chance to be reintroduced to a series that has been around since 1991. This will give people a chance to enjoy some more active battles that might not be as thought provoking as the ones in Shining Force, but could still make us think about party composition and different characters’ roles.
Shining Resonance Refrain will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on July 10, 2018.