If Gust do anything well, it's providing high-quality artwork of cute anime girls to rope people into games that ultimately struggles to match the quality of their assets.
Releasing games in the Atelier series since the 90s, Gust only recently started to port their titles to the PC platform with their growing IP collection - including Nights of Azure and Blue Reflection. But how does their new Magical Girl simulator RPG cope on the versatile platform? It works. But not all the time.
Blue Reflection is every bit a Gust game. Read our review here
Despite the high-quality artwork, Blue Reflection doesn't churn out 3D visuals half as striking. They're soft and pleasing on the eyes, but not quite as gorgous as you'd hope. Likely built using the same technology and methods Gust have used to pump out titles every year for well over a decade, any player of their past titles will know this is one of their own.
- Recommended Requirements
- CPU: Core i7 @3.4GHz
- RAM: 8GB
- GPU: Nvidia GTX 960
- Review Machine
- CPU: AMD FX8320 @4.2GHz
- RAM: 8GB DDR3
- GPU: AMD RX 480 8GB
Releasing at the RRP of £50 through Steam on September 26, 2017, the high asking price would typically suggest - or warrant - a port matching worth. Yet, Blue Reflection's built-in launcher features no graphical settings or tweaks other than a resolution drop-down menu locked at a 1080p maximum resolution and a Fullscreen/Windowed option that struggled to deliver results during our review.
Running a set-up including both a 1080p monitor and a 4K panel caused issues right from the state. No matter which was selected as our 'Main' monitor through Windows itself, Blue Reflection refused to go anywhere but the 4K panel - with the launcher's maximum resolution being a far cry from the max supported 4K resolution of the screen itself.
It is possible to force a higher resolution by manually tweaking the game's .ini settings file, but this really isn't something people should be forced to deal with.
Playing the game itself is fairly straight-forward after that. Although Steam assured me Blue Reflection wasn't designed with controllers in mind (why wouldn't it be?), my wireless Xbox One controller worked without a hitch with all the button prompts reflecting the controller's own.
Without paying too much attention an external FPS counter itself, Blue Reflection seemed to run at a fairly solid 60FPS - though there's every possibility this is hard-capped to your monitor's refresh rate due to forced VSYNC; so just keep that in mind.
Visually, it's perfectly fine if playing at a distance - like on a couch - but when sat closer to your screen - like most PC players - the game's lack of graphical tweaks (like anti-aliasing) means jagged edges run rampant here, forcing the image to lose clarity very quickly up close.
As a quick reference, here's how the game looks in 4K with anti-aliasing forced on through the Settings .ini file against the 1080p without any anti-aliasing. The images have been equally zoomed.
At 4K, framerate drops are consistent and very noticeable. Though we could argue consistency isn't an absolute requirement in a predominantly turn-based game, it feels choppy enough to negatively hinder the experience against its softer art style. Dialing down to 1440p improves the framerate situation but still doesn't offer a crisp image without forcing the bells and whistles through your GPU driver.
According to RPGSite, the PC version uses 720p assets rather than the 1080p stuff used in the PlayStation 4 version.
Throughout over a dozen hours of gameplay, numerous bugs made themselves present; from floor reflections making little sense, to the shading along edges clearly growing and shrinking based on proximity. Inside 'The Common' where most of the battles take place, there were multiple instances of large parts of the skybox/backdrop cutting in and out as we turned the camera.
Later on, it became next to impossible to clear certain missions as entering the 'Lava' sections of The Common would cause the game to instantly crash. A 1GB patch appeared through Steam a day before launch, but our experience wasn't helped or hindered by whatever it brought.
Sadly, Blue Reflection is one of the worst ports of a Gust game we can remember. Both Nights of Azure and Atelier Firis caused us far less trouble and were released at half the price. At £50, Blue Reflection is in a very poor - and borderline broken - state that should become a top priority for KOEI TECMO to rectify before the launch of Gust's newest title, Nights of Azure 2, next month.
Your milage may vary, but we suggest keeping an eye on the game's Steam Discussion pages until things improve.