Whilst a sequel to the 2017 Blue Reflection offering, this release offers a new standalone story within the same universe that looks to expand on some of the themes in the original game with a new set of characters and mystery to solve. Is Second Light a mystery worth solving? Let’s take a look
Blue Reflection: Second Light follows the story of three students – Ao Hoshizaki, Kokoro Utsubo, and Yuki Kinjou – alongside others who find themselves trapped in a mysterious school surrounded by water, searching for clues within the building to find their way back home. One day, a path leading to a new land appears, but when the three girls set off to unravel the mystery of this new place, they’re met by a series of deadly monsters and remnants of their own world. Will their newly unlocked powers from these battles allow the girls to finally solve the mystery of their surroundings and go home?
You play as Ao Hoshizaki for the most part, the only girl in the little group that oddly seems to still retain most memories of life before, as you seek a way back to your original world. The communal life the girls are leading now give the game a slice of life feel on occasion, but that usually doesn’t last too long as the main narrative is never too far away. You can sucked into the game pretty easily, its well voiced throughout, but that’s more due to the girls with how they interact and bond with other more than the actual story itself. The only real stickler here would be the prologue itself. Consisting of more than one part, it does start to outstay its welcome a little for me as it lasts almost a couple of hours and also includes a hefty amount of tutorials to read.
There’s something about the style of the game that gives it a somewhat dreamy look, maybe its the way the main cast are designed or the hazy look of some of the environments. The base of operations for the group is the school which looks typical of what you would see in anime etc. but its outside in the Faraway where you find much of the visual variety as each plays on the memories of the girls. You’ll often see parts of our world mixed in with bright unknown fauna early on, with some places taking on a darker tone later compared to the brighter early zones.
It’s not all good as the lack of AO can leave some scenes lacking depth, but it’s the shadow quality that is most noticeable. It’s clearly at a low quality with a blocky and lack of filtered look to them, but it’s mainly at its worst when back at the school and isn’t so bad when out in the more detailed areas. Performance is decent when playing portable, I’m not even going to talk about the lack of a docked mode yet again, with only minor drops noticed that get get cleared up docked. One oddity, still not fixed, occasionally happens when docking the Switch whilst playing which can cause hefty frame drops. Closing the game and launching it again clears it up, but it kinda throws a spanner in the works of the whole Switch idea.
Having not played the previous game I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but it appears to use a similar real-time/turn based hybrid approach to combat like most modern Jrpgs. The ‘timer’ along the bottom isn’t necessarily for time here tho, more that allowing it to build can give you access to more powerful moves. These are unlocked as you level up and come with a required EP amount you need to hit in order to use, hence the real time flow. Each member of the party has their own moves and time of attack, they can also transform when certain conditions are met, so it can become a juggling act at times that you’ll need to get used to. The key to victory here tho is timing your defence to keep the combo high. Heavy attacks by enemies can reset the damage combo you build up, key for doing damage to bigger foes, so timing a defensive move to counter a heavy enemy attack prevents that combo damage.
When not out exploring you’ll generally be back at the school crafting up something useful to complete a quest or just kicking back a little bit. Areas of the school can be rebuilt into pools etc. Which can also affect the characters happiness etc., your relationship, or lack of, with them can also bring benefits. The game does throw the odd curveball with its gameplay tho, none more surprising than the stealth sections that occasionally crop up given this is a Jrpg. To be honest they feel more like puzzles really as you can activate your ring to show the field of vision for the patrols, so you’re left picking the best route through. Early on these are a little linear, but they do offer some choice later down the line and make for another good distraction from the grind.
To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect of Blue Reflection Second Light given I hadn’t sampled the original, but I was pleasantly surprised after spending some time with it. The story & character interactions are extremely well done, the worlds to explore are interesting, and there’s plenty of other distractions so the usual grind doesn’t become a bore. There are some things that take some of the sheen off, mostly the drawn out prologue and some technical quirks, but they don’t really bring down the overall package too much. A great Jrpg to play on the go and a mystery worth seeing out till the end.
Will probably go under the radar of most, but a worthwhile adventure of anime girls in a faraway land trying to get home.