- System: PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: souvenir circ.
- Developer: souvenir circ.
- Release Date: May 15, 2018
- Rating: T for Teen
- Genre: Shooter
- Players: 1
- Official Website: http://lost-identity.jp/souvenir/html/MaihanaPS4/html/Top.html
Who it Caters to
What to Expect
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:
- 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
- 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: