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Game Info:

Shining Resonance Refrain
Developed by: SEGA
Published by: SEGA
Release date: July 10, 2018
Available on: PS3, PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
Genre: Action RPG
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Teen for Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
Price: $49.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you SEGA for sending us this game to review!

Shining Resonance was originally released on the PlayStation 3 in Japan back in 2014. Four years later it was re-released as Shining Resonance Refrain worldwide and also became available on the PS4, Switch, Xbox, and PC. Upon launching the game, players will be given the choice of playing the Original or Refrain mode. Refrain mode adds two new DLC characters (along with their romance options), night-time missions, and new dialogue. As a new player to the series, I opted for the original game mode which was recommended through my internet search. There are two difficulty modes: Casual and Standard. You can change difficulty levels mid-game if desired.

The game begins with a young man, Yuma Ilvern, who has a unique trait. The spirit of the most powerful (Shining) Dragon resides within him. The Empire seeks to extract it from him forcefully and tortures him in prison while trying to do so. The kingdom of Astoria has been at war with the Empire for quite some time and it’s pretty much in a stalemate. Both sides are siding with dragons to gain an edge over the other and both seek the help of the Shining Dragon to end this war once and for all. The first chapter out of eight in this title focuses on rescuing Yuma from the enemy’s prison.

At first, Yuma isn’t much of a fighter and fears the power residing within him as he has trouble controlling it once he unleashes the Shining Dragon. With the help of his newfound friends, he can learn how to fight, properly harness the Shining Dragon’s power, and save the world as he knows it.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Interesting characters, good (partial) English voice acting; excellent sound track
Weak Points: Not fully voice acted; some grinding required
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence and magic use; language (*ss, sh*t, d*mn, p*ss, h*ll); sexual references/dialogue; option to date male or female party members; revealing clothing; alcohol and drunkenness; prejudice 

Each of the party members has different weapons, fighting styles, and force/magic abilities. Most of their weapons are called Armonics which originate from the Shining Dragon and resonate with other dragoneers in battle. In town, you can pay to tune their weapons to change their elemental affinities and perks.

You can change the party’s position and Yuma isn’t a required character. In fact, I highly recommend rotating all of the characters to make sure nobody gets left behind level wise. You can only have four active party members at a time. Whoever is in the first position will be the conductor for the B.A.N.D. songs which have great perks that temporarily decrease the enemy’s defenses or increases your party’s attacks. As your party attacks the BPM gauge will increase along with magic points slowly regenerating.

As you’re exploring there will be campsites where you can save your progress and camp to revive fallen comrades and replenish your health/magic points. If you have the ingredients handy, you can use alchemy to concoct various potions and weapon aspects/power-ups. There’s a wide variety of aspects that can increase character stats such as health, magic, vitality, luck, defense, and agility. Other aspects nullify ailments like confusion and paralysis.

Like many RPGs you’ll have the option to accept side quests which usually reward you with items needed to synthesize aspects and potions. Be sure to talk to your party member in town and it will increase your bond with them and sometimes they’ll hand you useful items if your affinity with them is really high. You can invite both male or female characters to chat with in the evening while everyone else is sleeping. After a few late night chats you may get invited for a date around town to strengthen the bond even further. After several successful dates a character may give you a heart trait to indicate their affection towards you. There are multiple endings and before the final battle you can pick which character you want to settle down with.

Shining Resonance Refrain

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 53%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 4/10
Occult/Supernatural - 3/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

Though I didn’t fully max out relationships with the male characters, the late night chats and walks around town usually involved talking about females and (lack of) dating them. Some of the female characters wore revealing outfits and one, in particular, had some very suggestive dialogue. As you get to know the characters, story sequences will unlock for them and they are quite entertaining to watch. Sadly, they’re usually not fully voice acted, but the dialogue is still great regardless. Most of the time you’ll get character traits after the story sequences and these can be assigned to the characters to increase or change the bonds between the various party members. If everyone gets along, there will be a better chance of fully supporting each other in battle instead of rivalry.

Dark elves are perceived as untrustworthy in this game. Though there is prejudice, it gets sorted out and I like how that is handled in this title. There is a form of religion that borrows Catholic verbiage, but it is depicted as power-hungry and evil. Both the good guys and bad guys tend to use a fair amount of foul language. At least one character gets drunk in this game. Lastly, there is violence and magic use.

Battles are in real time and if Yuma is in his dragon form, you will not be able to access items like health or magic potions. I found it best to have two healers and two tanks in my party for boss battles. The enemies on the map will level up as your party does and they are excellent for powering up your least favorite/useful party members.

Some of the boss battles are back to back so you may have to conserve your B.A.N.D and dragon transformation until the second or even third battle in some cases. In the seventh chapter, there is a tough multi-battle that has to be completed with only two members. Be sure to fully stock health and ether potions before triggering a boss or story event.

I can’t compare the other formats, but Shining Resonance Refrain looked and ran great on the Switch. I really enjoyed being able to play this game on the go. The visuals didn’t have any noticeable slowdowns, even during the intensive boss battles. When present, the voice acting is top notch. The background music is exceptional as well. In the end, I really enjoyed my thirty-five hours into this game and recommend it to those who don’t mind the moral issues and enjoy JRPGs that involve a little bit of grinding at times.

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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