Review: Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom
Format: PSN (16.39 GB)
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Enigami
Original MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Shiness has the formula and components for perfection. It’s beautiful. It instantly reminded me of Ni No Kuni, one of my favorite RPGs of last generation. It has anthropomorphic characters, reminding me of one of Usagi Yojimbo, one of my favorite comic books, and it has a pretty decently robust combat system. All of this on top of the Zelda-like puzzle system: a recipe for perfection, to be sure.

Alas, the final product does not deliver on all of the individual components, making for an otherwise enjoyable game that could have been so much more.

To begin, you play as two pretty loveable characters – Chado and his pudgy copilot, Poky. A mishap in piloting causes the two to crash in a land full of creatures that want to destroy them. However, there are new friends to meet and you won’t be alone and lost for long. What follows is roughly a fifteen hour game that manages to entertain but doesn’t quite ever meet its full potential.

Combat is handled in real-time with you controlling one character and using your own timing and skill to destroy the enemy in a fighting-game style arena. You have control of punches, kicks, and certain abilities. You can block, riposte, and dodge incoming attacks. You are completely responsible for your successes and failures on the battlefield.

Sure, your buddies will participate from the sidelines and you are able to “tag” them in, but don’t expect math and raised stats to do the work for you here. This is a welcoming attribute but also one that introduces some frustrations.

… character design is the real winner here …
You are told early on that certain enemies are resistant to your physical attacks and you must deflect their own projectiles back at them. That’s all good but at times it requires some serious timing. Not a flaw, but be prepared to take some damage while trying to nail that perfect riposte.

Like most action RPGs, you do not embark on your adventure without protection. You can equip your character with various articles of clothing that will help out in that area. Additionally you can customize special abilities in combat that are element based.

In a game that depends on player-controlled combat, these types of additions help in keeping things interesting. What I found refreshing is that battle cannot be easily bypassed with simple button mashing. Success is measured by how well you manage Chado and company.

Visuals:
Shiness “shines”. Cel-shading has taken some dynamic strides over the last couple of years with Ni No Kuni leading the way. What you have here is a slightly lesser take on that style, though not one that is disappointing by any stretch. The character design is the real winner here, with some colorfully expressive personalities and vibrantly rendered worlds.

A bit of a letdown was the static cinematics (told in manga style pages). While they are certainly not bad looking, they do break up the flow and motion that the rest of the game provides, particularly when some of the character interactions is done using the in-game models.

… the potential to be a great RPG series …
Audio:
While the music is very well done, the voice acting leaves much to be desired. I’m certain that perhaps it comes with the territory, what with anime dubs often sounding forced. Fortunately, not every story element is voiced so you won’t be cringing throughout the entire experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
I firmly believe that Shiness has the potential to be a great RPG series. The real-time arena style combat is a refreshing way to keep battle scenes interesting, despite needing some polish. The same can be said about its overall presentation, with the exception of visuals.

The game looks great and holds strong to a vibrant visual style throughout. Additionally, the characters are loveable and, with the exception of unbalanced and weak dialogue, are portrayed with enough personality to make you feel like you’ve read an awesome little fairy tale. It may not have enough overall strengths to become my RPG of the year, but it’s certainly one that I enjoyed playing.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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