The long weekend game me plenty of time to play the latest bullet hell game out on the market, Azure Reflections!
Azure Reflections follows Reimu Hakurei, a young shrine maiden. Having done this in the past, she is once again heading to the Red Devil Manor to stop Remilia from creating the Scarlet Mist. To do so, she must advance through several stages and defeat Remilia’s underlings before facing off against the big boss. The story itself is fairly straightforward, but it suffers from a few plot holes. It is unclear why the red mist is a problem, or what Remilia’s end game is.
Azure Reflections also suffers from clunky dialogue. Before each boss battle, Reimu engages in dialogue with each boss. Both the pre and post-battle dialogue usually have nothing to do with the main mission, or deviate away from the battle. Often times the bosses end up rambling about something else entirely, which is cringe worthy to read and daunting to click through. Not only that, Reimu seems to be pretty friendly with each boss, so it’s unclear why they choose to fight.
The game play is perhaps the most frustrating part of Azure Reflections. There are three difficulty modes with steep learning curves on each one. Hoping to advance the plot, I dropped for normal mode down to easy mode. Unsurprisingly, easy mode was much easier to navigate for newcomers to bullet hell games like myself.
The frustrating part comes in the form of the plot advancement. The game requires you to meet all characters and beat all stages without dying or getting a continue message before advancing past Stage 3. It is unclear whether the game means meeting each villain, which is impossible to avoid, or unlocking the other two characters, which is not mentioned in any stage. Not only that, if you get a game over, the game takes you back to Stage 1, rendering any saves useless.
On top of having an annoying plot advancement system, the controls can be pretty tricky to use. There are several different combinations to use to determine how your base bullet attack fires, which is a great customization. Those controls are also pretty straightforward. Both the bullet absorption and charge techniques are also fairly simple to use. Spell cards are also easy to use. The problem lies in the cost for the moves.
There isn’t anything visually striking about Azure Reflections. The characters switch from traditional animation during dialogue scenes to a 3D rendering during battles. There also isn’t a lot of variety in the gunfire versus the background lighting, so it’s hard to tell what’s there for aesthetic and what’s there to hurt you. The only upside to the animation is the characters are pretty customizable and the customizations stick with the character even after getting a game over.
Overall, fans of typical bullet hells looking for action and test their reflexes will enjoy Azure Reflections. Those players looking for a story or cool graphics should look elsewhere.
- Easy mode is great for newbies to bullet hell games
- Fans of difficult bullet hell games will appreciate the normal and hard modes
- Animation makes it hard to differentiate between background aesthetic and an attack
- Collecting all items in a stage should not be the requirement for advancing further in the game.