Gust’s games are known for having a distinctive aesthetic, but Blue Reflection is one of the company’s most beautifully presented titles.
Offering a combination of high-detail realism in its school scenes coupled with a ton of creativity for the action that unfolds in the manifestation of the collective unconscious known as “The Common”, it really is a lovely game to look at — perhaps not the best-performing game there is, no, but a lovely game to look at nonetheless.
A big part of that is down to the work of Mel Kishida, a frequent Gust collaborator, and an artist with a very distinctive style all of his own.
Continue reading Blue Reflection: Kishida’s Pastel Paradise
It may not have escaped your notice that I haven’t done any Blue Reflection-themed Waifu Wednesdays this month.
This is entirely deliberate; since the game as a whole is based around the interactions between the female characters, I’ll be talking about most if not all of the major characters when we come to explore its narrative, themes and characterisation in their entirety. So please look forward to that!
In the meantime, however, Gust definitely produces wonderful waifus, so let’s look back at a MoeGamer classic and main heroine of a Cover Game from last year.
Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Lilysse
Blue Reflection is an unusual game in terms of its overall tone and how it “feels” to play, and a big part of this is due to its mechanics and structure.
If you had to pigeon-hole it into a specific mechanical genre, most people would describe it as a “JRPG”. But in many ways this isn’t a particularly accurate description, since although it features a number of common elements of the genre, it draws just as many influences from other types of game such as adventures and visual novels.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly a pretty intriguing game from a mechanical and structural perspective. So that’s what we’ll be focusing on today.
Continue reading Blue Reflection: Everyday Life with Magical Girls
This month’s Cover Game is a Gust title I’ve been intrigued about ever since it was first announced: Blue Reflection.
Featuring a combination of Mel Kishida’s wonderfully soft-edged artwork translated beautifully into 3D polygonal graphics, a highly stylised soundtrack by Hayato Asano and an intriguing story about empathy and emotion, I always knew this was going to be an experience that was right up my alley.
So let’s begin our exploration with an overview of what the game is all about, and a look back at the “magical girl” genre that inspired it.
Continue reading Blue Reflection: Introduction, and a Brief History of Magical Girls
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!
Music is a massively important part of the modern gaming experience. As technology has improved, particularly in the storage department, we’ve seen a notable shift away from game systems synthesising music in real time using built-in sound chips — a process that often produced a distinctive and instantly recognisable sound unique to each platform — and towards more traditionally recorded music.
While this does diminish each modern platform’s individuality in terms of the distinctive timbres of their games’ soundtracks, it does leave composers free to let their imaginations run wild and express themselves — and for us as listeners to focus on the compositions themselves rather than admire how the musicians got around technical limitations. Today’s award celebrates a delightfully eclectic and enjoyable soundtrack that blends a variety of styles together into one coherent whole; the kind of soundtrack that simply wouldn’t have been possible back in the eras of chiptunes or synthesised MIDI music.
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Most Eclectic Soundtrack
One interesting contrast between Western and Eastern role-playing games is the way they each handle their core “rulesets.”
Western RPGs tend to follow a model that is somewhat closer to tabletop role-playing, whereby all the rules are set out clearly in front of you from the outset. You generally spend the entire game applying these rules in different ways, gradually growing in effectiveness (usually through increased likelihood to succeed at various challenges) as you proceed.
This is perhaps a side-effect of the fact that Western RPGs have their roots very much in Dungeons & Dragons — in fact, many early Western RPGs quite simply were Dungeons & Dragons games — but even today with franchises like The Elder Scrolls, we see what are often some relatively straightforward rules being applied consistently throughout the entirety of a game.
Japanese role-playing games, on the other hand, play things a little bit differently.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: Layers Upon Layers
As we’ve discussed over the course of the last few articles, Gust’s Nights of Azure has a very strong sense of its own identity, both as an individual work and as part of its developer’s catalogue.
Every aspect of the game as a whole contributes to this coherent identity: its distinctly operatic, tragic Gothic narrative; its blend of action RPG gameplay with monster-raising and character customisation; its small cast of distinctive, memorable characters.
Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic, however, is its overall aesthetic. While, at times, drawing inspiration from other, similar works, there’s no denying that Nights of Azure takes ownership of its own identity to create a highly distinctive work that stands out even amid the rest of Gust’s back catalogue.
Continue reading Nights of Azure: Sights and Sounds