Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom was originally put on kickstarter in May of 2014; developed in Paris, France it was definitely going to be a unique JRPG with not only it’s origin but with it combining the combat of fighting games into what is viewed as traditional RPG elements. The game also would dive into a bit of cross media storytelling with a comic book to supplement the game’s story with a rich story arch.
With that said the game takes place in Mahera a planet filled with different species of sentient beings, all living creatures including the planet were linked by a spiritual energy called the Shi. As the different civilisations expanded and grew the Shi started to spread thin across all these beings and a violent war broke among all those who lived on the planet leading the Shi link to shatter and the planet with it. The once whole planet had separated into floating land pieces called Meteora with each species living separately from then on. With that the story is set, pretty cool set up but will the story hold up?
The game puts you in the control of the main character Chado from the species Waki which are like a cat mouse hybrid humanoid. He is contacted by a natural spirit named “Shiness” and is shunned by his village since they think he’s basically gone mad. Although that’s true he still has his friend a fellow Waki called Poky who is the smart engineer type, they’re on a little adventure when things go wrong and they end up in a whole heap of a mess and need to go out and save the world. Same basic plot most JRPGs have but Shiness’ strength lies in its gameplay.
Shiness as mentioned earlier uses a fighting game combat system as the game is inspired by the likes of Dragon Ball and Naruto so a traditional turn based system would just not do. Although the game does have a combat system ENIGAMI has taken no short cuts in providing a seamless transition from exploration to fighting and then back to exploration; the game does lock you in with your enemies ala Devil May Cry but there is no loading or transition from the map. The game’s combat is buttery smooth with animations that you would only expect in a triple A game, the combat is definitely where this game shines (sorry for the pun). With that said the combat does come with its own issues; sometimes the fight’s need a warrior’s focus as one mistake can lead you to getting murdered by your enemy which is fine but after multiple tries it begins to get frustrating.
With an RPG you expect menus of skills, items, abilities, etc. all of the typical stuff but in Shiness it just a little bit over board with multiple pages and menus of stats, abilities, Shi, combos, etc. it all gets a bit blurry after a while, which I understand is the norm in RPGs but sometimes less is more. With that said if you’re a big RPG fan you’ll adjust with time but if you’re just in it for the story or the gameplay you’ll need a couple of hours to start comprehending it all.
Visually Shiness is quite eye catching with colours and contrast we’re not really used to with games nowadays but with Shiness it really brings out the innocence of the characters like Chado and Poky. The art style also is very unique almost a blend of similar games and anime with the different races being very different with an easy ability to differentiate them from the Wakis, Humans and the Shieks. Audio-wise Shiness has some memorable themes that give me flashbacks to older RPGs like Final Fantasy VII and Soukiden with a dash of Ni No Kuni.
With all that said and done Shiness’ story has some strong points but doesn’t hold up in some areas but makes up for it in others; it’s gameplay through is where the game really comes to life with a combat system that alone is worth playing. It isn’t without it’s issues with tons of micromanagement the game can feel overwhelming and might lead to people turning away from such screens or possibly the game but as the combat is quite open the micromanagement may not be as important as the game leads you to believe. However the game does deliver a solid experience that may be similar to others but does have its spin on it and for the price of entry I recommend it to anyone who’s into JRPGs, Fighting games or anime.
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