Final Thoughts on Blue Reflection

At the end, when you go around to talk to all of your companions about the huge decision you’re supposed to make and when you face off against the final boss who talks about doing something that no human should want because it would be better off for humanity, the game finally, finally started to give me the feeling that a Persona game gives me. I think the game series has potential if it can improve on its stumbles and figure out how to make the things it does well work, and so I hope it does well-enough to spawn a sequel. But as a game itself, it’s at best a “Meh”.

I’m going to talk about the plot in detail, so the rest will be below the fold:

As I noted in my first discussion of the game, they chose what I felt was the worst of the two options and went with the “The wish was a lie” approach. Kinda. Lime and Yuzu pretty much admit that it was, but at the very end the final boss talks about finding a wish in Hinako’s heart and Hinako says at the end that she got her wish, so it isn’t clear. But that, I think, pretty much characterizes the entire plot: a whole bunch of things get dropped that never pay off and don’t really make sense at the end of it all.

Remember, the big driving force for most of the story was Hinako’s injury and losing the ability to do ballet, which was the thing that she most loved and which she felt most defined her. This injury was brought up time and time again during the plot, even up until the last few chapters. And then, it gets dropped right after Hinako is told that she isn’t going to get a wish if she wins … and is replaced by the at least somewhat out-of-nowhere plot thread of Yuzu and Lime being already dead and so, when Hinako wins, they’ll fade away. This then causes Hinako — not unreasonably — to hesitate to kill the last enemy because she’ll lose them (although this will fall flat if you don’t like them as much as Hinako is supposed to). Then, after overcoming that with the advice of your companions — and with the really nasty Mao bludgeoning her with the message that they want Hinako to do it — you meet the creature that has created everything, who then wants to absorb everyone because the world has gotten too big and so they have become too disconnected from each other, causing the issues that you have to fix. And this would be an interesting angle if you had indeed built more direct social links to people, as Hinako does reply — and, again, it makes some sense — that people can indeed develop those bonds. This would have been the perfect time for those bonds that you maxed out to chime in, since they were there. But they don’t (and according to the trophies, I maxed two out, Sanae and Yuri). And then when you defeat that boss, it leaves everything alone and starts Hinako over at the beginning of the game, essentially, and Hinako’s supposed to have forgotten everything that happened, including Lime and Yuzu. Except that she seems to remember them, and notes that as her heart’s wish coming true. Roll credits.

So, Hinako’s injury? Not resolved. The play? Not resolved, although the end credits do suggest how it went. Mao’s darkness and her surprising power that gives you a mid-game level up? Not resolved. Mao’s personality issues? Not resolved. Lime’s pushing for a quick resolution? Mostly ignored. Pretty much every important point in the first part of the game doesn’t actually get resolved in any way, but the ending doesn’t leave it open either. The final boss’ goals don’t really relate to or explain anything about what happened earlier in the game, and the social links play little to no role in how that works out, even as a “We’re all cheering for you!” type of thing that you’d see in the Persona games, like Persona 3. (Recall that Persona 5 took it up another notch by having all of your maxed out S-links work to free you from prison. This doesn’t even get to the level of Persona 3).

And the social links here are not integrated well into the game or plot at all. You get growth points from completing missions or from advancing the links, and these also give you overall points. If your overall points are high enough, you can report that to Yuzu and Lime and the next day the chapter will advance. Since I always did all of the missions, I always had enough points, which would give me something like one or two days to advance the links. This changed at one point when I didn’t have enough growth points — which track your level — to advance, and so had to advance the links to get more growth points. After getting hammered in the battle, I then grinded to get extra growth points, and learned that as long as you don’t “report” to Yuzu and Lime you can just keep doing links until you get sick of doing it. Of course, you can max out the link XP without maxing out all the links, and so at some point you’d have to grind it just to do it. But you don’t really get anything from maxing them out. In fact, I supposedly maxed out Sanae’s without actually knowing that it happened, and only knowing that every time I invited her out after school all I got was a generic and boring event, but one that actually talked about inviting her out again later, so I thought I needed to do something else later. Guess not. And at a another point, three of the characters come to give you emotional support in a cutscene, and so I thought that if I advanced more of the others I might see one of them instead … nope. As I said above, there’s nothing at the end, except for one part where before you decide whether or not to fight the last enemy you can ask them about doing that knowing that it will make Yuzu and Lime disappear. You don’t seem to get anything for advancing or completing the links. They might be more effective in their support roles if you advance it, but to be honest I couldn’t tell and there’s really no way to know unless you remember what they had before and after you advance these things, which was definitely too far apart for me to notice. There’s no cool scene when you complete it, no cool scene at the end, and no cool scene in the final boss. For something that made bonds the big plot point at the end, the links matter shockingly little in the game itself.

And even though I played the game on “Easy”, the problem that knockback is the key to victory still remained. This limited the moves you generally made in the game and limited your strategic options. And using Ether to activate multiple moves that combined into one huge move was a must strategy for the final fights. There was no reason to not activate all of your allies as soon as you could, since their attack also built Ether, which made the big attacks available, which then was the safest way to win. While it had a lot of skills, there was little reason to use many of them, and so little reason to put fragments into them. This made one entire section of the game rote and repetitive.

Still, as I said, Blue Reflection has potential. They need to integrate the social links better into the game and story — even if they don’t give mechanical advantages for maxing out a link — so that they don’t seem like afterthoughts. They need to make it clearer when you can or should be pursuing links and when you should be doing other things. And they need to make the combat include more thinking, even if they don’t make it more difficult. If they do this, they’d be on their way to having a viable Persona clone.

2 Responses to “Final Thoughts on Blue Reflection”

  1. First Thoughts on Persona … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] game doesn’t do the explicit S-links of later Persona games and its compatriots like Blue Reflection, so it isn’t entirely fair to compare them. Party members join and leave as per the plot and […]

  2. What I Finished, What I Played in 2018 | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] big game this year was Blue Reflection. A Persona-style game that supposedly was trying to hit that “girl audience” model, […]

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