Thank you Atlus for sending us this game to review!
Long ago the moon god was upset with humanity for their arrogance and decided to punish the faithless. An army of angels was dispatched and things looked bleak until a hero named Elcrest went to the moon and laid down his life to save humanity. While the people were spared, their ability to sing was taken away. The only beings capable of singing are witches and only a handful exist. Things were peaceful in the kingdom of Regnant for a thousand years until Hilda, the witch of destruction, starting crystalizing villages and all of the townspeople within. As pretty as her song is, the aftermath is devastating.
Alto and Lisette are the only survivors from a recent crystallization of the small village, Mithra. A few years prior Lisette and her mother took in Alto and named him since all of his memories were erased. The only possession Alto had was a pendant. During the attack on Mithra he gave the pendant to Lisette and the qualia stone from it merged with her body and she became the water witch. After witnessing that transformation and seeing the approaching royal army, Hilda and her Harbingers fled the scene.
The royal army was interested in the new water witch and escorted her and Alto to the royal capital. To reverse the crystallization, the four witches (water, fire, earth, wind) need to unite and sing the anthem song. Lisette agrees to participate in the anthem program to save her mother and Alto joins up with the royal knights to locate and bring back the other three witches peacefully.
Hilda becomes aware of the Queen’s plans and tries to get to and kill the witches before the royal army can get to them. Many battles will ensue and this 3D tactical RPG game handles them well for the most part. My only complaint about that battle system is that there is no ability to speed up the battle process. Many strategy games have a 2X or a 4X option, but not this game.
Like your typical tactical RPGs, the units take turns and can move and perform an action on their turn. The number of squares they can move is determined by their movement attribute and the area of effect of their attack depends on their weapon or spell. For example, swords can only hit an adjacent enemy while spears can reach an enemy two spaces away.
Weapons can be fitted with orbs that can be refined or purchased in town. Some of my favorite orbs were ones that reclaimed health or spell points with each hit. Elemental affinities can be applied to weapons, which works well when a unit is weak to that element, but will heal them if they’re attuned to it.
Each character has one accessory slot and only two inventory slots. The accessory slot is for rings that can negate status effects or boost attributes. The inventory slots are ideal for healing elixirs and cure potions for removing ailments. Be sure to check your inventory before battle since you cannot replenish it once battle starts.
In the beginning you're limited to the first five starting characters, but throughout the story more allies will become available. Each unit has their own unique battle abilities and funny personality and backstory that you can learn about during free time.
There are ten chapters in Stella Glow and each chapter is broken up into mission and free time segments. The mission segments are battles required for progressing the story line while the free time moments provide opportunities to take on side work for cash, build relationships with teammates, or fight some battles for loot or experience. The battles focused around loot will consume time while the normal battles do not. Some battles with better loot can be unlocked by spending your 3DS game coins.
As your bonds strengthen with teammates, they will unlock new abilities, songs, and attacks. As Alto gets to know the witches he’ll discover their insecurities and in order to help them, he must tune them to cleanse their heart. Tuning the witches requires going to the tuning hall where all the witches wait for him in a relaxing room wearing silk nightwear.
While nothing sexual happens in the tuning chamber, there are a lot of sexual innuendos made throughout the game. Some of the witches and other female characters wear very revealing clothing. The female doctor’s enormous breasts are just a sneeze away from coming out of her outfit. Rusty, one of the knights is quite a womanizer and tries to teach Alto the art of picking up women.
The tavern is the place to go for side work and Rusty goes there for the booze and women. Some of the characters in the game do get drunk. Language is quite prevalent throughout the game and pretty much every word is used other than the f-bomb. There is blasphemy and statements made in the game that humans don’t need a god since they can stand well enough on their own. While most of the fighting is tame when it comes to bloodshed, there are some disturbing images of characters bleeding to death. Last but not least, there is a story sequence that revolves around growing illegal drugs and some of the enemies are actively using them.
The main story and personalities are funny and quite entertaining to experience. I regret not seeing all of the story arcs but the new game + mode fixes that by tripling the amount of free time, allowing you max out all of the character skills. The second time around also gives you more money and experience per battle. My first play through was over fifty hours so there’s no doubt about getting your money’s worth on Stella Glow.
The voice acting is extremely well done and adds to the quirkiness of some of the characters. I recognized some of the voice actors from popular anime shows that I have enjoyed. Like many animes, there are bouts with amnesia and Alto has quite the harem at the end of the game. After the end credits Alto can choose a character he has maxed affinity with to experience various endings.
The artwork has an anime feel to it as well. The character stills have much more detail and emotion than the chibi style units on the battlefield. Many of the powerful attacks have an elaborate animation sequence that goes along with it. The battle animations can be skipped to speed up the gameplay, yet due to the lack of additional speed-up options, the battles drag on for short eternities.
In the end, I enjoyed my time with Stella Glow. It’s a great tactical RPG that has interesting characters and a good sense of humor. There are many appropriateness issues to take into consideration as this game deserves the Teen rating it was given. If the language, deity issues, violence, and sexual content don’t faze you, then it’s worth adding to your 3DS library.