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Azure Reflections - PlayStation 4 Review

Enter the magical girl bullet hell

Game Info:

  • System: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Publisher: souvenir circ.
  • Developer: souvenir circ.
  • Release Date: May 15, 2018

Who it Caters to

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Bullet hell games haven’t been a very utilized genre in the last few years. However, with Azure Reflections, the shmup legacy of creating tough but fun games might be making a very needed return. Those who love to dodge and blast their way through hundreds of lasers and magical effects will no doubt love Azure Reflections. Plus, Azure Reflections has one thing that you can never go wrong with having in any game. Cute magical girls that are hell bent on fighting one another with magic spells!

What to Expect

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Azure Reflections guides players into a magical battlefield filled with bullets, magic and cute girls fighting for various causes. Select one of three heroines and guide them through several stages to put an end to a terrible event that could change the world forever. Play on either normal, easy or hard mode and try to dodge a frenzy of bullets as you fire back with your own magic and special abilities. Consider yourself a pro at all things shmup related? Well then, try out Azure Reflections and see if you can back up your claim with your controller skills. Just don’t be surprised if you see game over more times than you’d like to in a game.


Story

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Azure Reflections tells the story of the Scarlet Mist and its strange return on the land. Several magical girls—witches to some—embark on a quest to once more defeat the source of the Scarlet Mist and rid themselves of a possible world altering event. Can these girls rid the world of evil and save their land? Find out in Azure Reflections!

Gameplay

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The Touhou series in Japan is probably recognized as one of the biggest franchises ever as it’s been around for quite some time. However, in the West, we haven’t really seen a lot of Touhou games and thus, it’s a rather niche franchise here. However, just because a series might be lesser known, doesn’t mean we here at Honey’s Anime would ever not try to get into it, especially when it does release in the USA. That’s why we were all too happy to try out the shmup/bullet hell game known as Azure Reflections even though we aren’t too well versed in all things Touhou. Does the lack of Touhou games in the west ruin Azure Reflections or is this shmup game able to dodge the obscurity to become a solid title? Let us find out in our review of Azure Reflections for the PS4.

Azure Reflections has players taking control of Reimu Hakurei. This young shrine priestess is armed with magical abilities—thus, why we consider her a magical girl—and uses those skills to stop an incident called the Scarlet Mist. However, standing before Reimu are several evil witches and other girls who wish to stop Reimu from destroying the mist. Realistically, we could barely figure out what was going on in Azure Reflections because a lot of it harkens back to other Touhou games and we’ve only played a few in the states. Though even with a lack of clarity, we understood one thing, Azure Reflections is a fun and tough bullet hell game.

Players initially choose Reimu but as they beat the game, they will unlock two other girls who each go through the same levels but with slightly different stories. Like we said though, the story isn’t what drives Azure Reflections to be good, it’s the quality of its gameplay. The main goal in Azure Reflections is to reach the end of each stage—which there are several of—all while defeating various enemies and then taking down a boss character. In terms of shmup gameplay, Azure Reflections hits all the notes by having players die if they get hit twice—once stuns you the other delivers the finishing blow—while dodging insane amounts of projectiles flying about on screen. Veterans of the genre will know that really all you need to worry about is protecting a small hitbox on your girl—which can be turned on or off in the options—and firing back with special attacks that gain in power as your girl survives. Azure Reflections does add some interesting ideas though to keep the gameplay from being too generic and formulaic.

In Azure Reflections, your girls are armed with several special attacks outside the usual shooting abilities. Players can use spell cards with special abilities that can save them in bad situations with skills like removing all bullets on screen or firing off a gigantic laser attack to clear out all the enemies in one shot. Equally, you’ll come to rely on a move that lets your girl slam into enemies to make them immune to bullets and defeat boss enemies after removing their health bars. You can also increase the chances of survival by equipping items you buy in game that not only act as accessories but give your girls some well needed buffs like a smaller hitbox or faster recharge rate for your Danmaku Rush, the dodge move we mentioned earlier. If all of this sounds overwhelming—which we understand could be—there is an easy mode that makes the game ten times easier and a tutorial that will help you nail the basics of Azure Reflections.

Now for a bullet hell game to be truly amazing, it needs to have good graphics and an awesome soundtrack. Azure Reflections has both of these but falters with the level design slightly. While there are only several stages to play in Azure Reflections, a lot of them are reused and that kind of irked us to be honest. We know this is apparently for the story to make sense, but we feel it does hinder Azure Reflections slightly. Nevertheless with some amazing music and solid voice acting—which makes the story a bit easier to handle—Azure Reelections hits the most important notes in a shmup game and we’re glad to report that.


Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

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Azure Reflections isn’t anything we haven’t seen from the shmup genre but in many ways, that’s a good thing. We loved the high-octane action as we dodged millions of small projectiles and strove to get high scores with our various magical witch girls. Equally, the graphics and music were very impressive leading our journey through Azure Reflections to be quite fun and enjoyable. While there are some problems here and there thanks to a lack luster story that really stems from a lack of Western releases for the Touhou series and repetitive stages, Azure Reflections does what it needs to for quite an enjoyable gaming experience. If you’re like us here at Honey’s Anime and love all things bullet hell, then you’re going to want to purchase Azure Reflections today.

Honey's Pros:

  • Great shmup/bullet hell gameplay
  • The ability to customize characters with items that actually help power you up is a solid idea
  • Several girls to choose from each with their own powers and abilities
  • Wonderful music and art style
  • Hard mode will test shmup gamers in every way possible
  • Easy mode will help newcomers…a little

Honey's Cons:

  • Can be a bit daunting for those not use to the genre
  • Weak story due to the series being usually Japan only
  • Stages are repeated way too much

Honey's Final Verdict:

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For $25 bucks, Azure Reflections is an amazing game even without knowledge of the Touhou games that usually only release in Japanese markets. We loved the bullet hell glory that Azure Reflection delivers and know fans of the genre will too. That’s why this is an easy game to recommend to anyone who loves bullet hell games and all things shmup related. Are you thinking of picking up Azure Reflections this week? Tell us in the comments below as we’d love to hear from you. Remember to also not fly too far from our hive as we are always working on more gaming articles and reviews here at Honey’s Anime!
Aaron Curbelo
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Writer

Author: Aaron

Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!

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