Review – Shining Resonance Refrain

The Switch is slowly but surely becoming a fantastic JRPG powerhouse thanks to recent releases such as Octopath Traveler and Ys VIII, as well as upcoming titles such as the next Dragon Quest. Being able to play so many great titles on a portable system is one heck of an advantage, dare I say. Shining Resonance Refrain is Sega’s first foray into JRPGs for the console, a (supposedly) enhanced version of a game previously released for the PS3 only in Japan. Was it worth the wait? Eh. . .


My thoughts in the beginning of the game, when I wanted to actually play it…

Shining Resonance Refrain might be part of the long-spanning Shining series of RPGs and strategy games, but it has little connection to other games from the franchise. Like a ton of other JRPGs out there, the plot can be summarized as playing as a “chosen one” (this time around, a boy who can transform into a holy dragon) who joins a small kingdom’s army in order to resist against the advances of a bigger evil empire. You’ve seen this before, I can guarantee you that, but at the very least the game features a truckload of well-acted dialogue to try to convince you to keep playing it for a few more hours at a time. Emphasis on try.

Everything else in the game is competent, but far from exciting.


Are those the Egyptian God cards from Yu-Gi-Oh?

The graphics do their job, they are colorful and anime-ish, and also manage to maintain a decent framerate at all times. Then again, there’s nothing that differs Shining Resonance Refrain‘s visuals from any other JPRG out there. There are tons of other games out there that feature the same anime-inspired, cel-shaded visuals. Most of those games also feature superior presentation, since most of Shining‘s cutscenes and dialogue segments are presented in a very archaic manner.


Winner Winner Griffin Dinner!

The combat is equally uninspiring. Playing Shining Resonance Refrain after playing the excellent Ys VIII felt like a step back in terms of gameplay. Ys VIII had a fast-paced combat system with a lock-on feature, quick evasion maneuvers, instant character swapping and some combat bonuses for pushing buttons in the correct time. Shining has none of those. The combat is a lot more sluggish, you can only control one character at a time (you can give your allies orders, though), and there is no lock-on feature. It’s not that Shining‘s combat isn’t good, it is completely playable and can even be fun at times, but it feels uninspired.

That’s my main gripe with the whole game: uninspired. It does feature a lengthy story (40 hours long, give or take), a parallel “what if” side story, romance options, tons of side quests, competent voice acting, a stable frame rate, but in no moment did I feel excited while playing Shining Resonance Refrain. It didn’t grab my attention like Ys VIII (a game that, mind you, doesn’t run anywhere near as good as this one) for instance.


It does look like every other JRPG ever made

Shining Resonance Refrain is far from being a bad game, but it’s also a very forgettable one. It lacks anything that makes it stand out from the rest of its JRPG peers, due to its generic visuals, story and gameplay. If you’re desperately in need of a new JRPG for your Switch, either because you have already beaten Octopath Traveler and Ys VIII or because you’re not interested in either of those, for some reason, then Shining Resonance is an excellent choice. If you’re not part of this extremely specific demographic, however, there’s little to no reason to take a look at this game for the time being.

Graphics: 7.0

The visuals are decent and the frame rate is kept at a steady 30, but the art style looks like a hundred other anime-ish RPGs out there.

Gameplay: 6.5

The overworld controls aren’t exactly bad but they’re still a bit stiff. The combat system feels dated. Not having a lock-on mechanic is sinful.

Sound: 8.0

The soundtrack is good but  not memorable. The voice acting ended up being the game’s highlight.

Fun Factor: 6.0

There’s nothing exactly wrong with this title, but there’s nothing exactly wow-inducing either. It has an average combat system, lots of side quests, a sickening amount of dialogue, and a boring story.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Reviewed on Switch
Also available on: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC