I am going to be as impartial as I can, but I have been playing TouHou games for almost ten years and have always had fun with their titles. The TouHou universe focuses on a somewhat lazy shrine maiden named Reimu who has amazing insight and perception. She uses her powers and a keen mind to solve the various issues that are presented in various games.
Azure Reflections could be seen as a sequel of sorts, revolving around Reimu and her cohorts dealing with Remilia’s scarlet mist. This would be the same mist that was in TouHou #6 The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil. I know what you are thinking, and no this is not a re-release of any kind. This is apparent by each Reimu’s reaction to each level.
This title is a little different from the traditional TouHou bullet hells previously released. It has a side view camera which is more akin to Gradius or U.N. Squadron as opposed to their usual 1942 styled look. Enemies come from all sides of the screen but you can fire either in front or behind you. There are also other means to defend yourself such as spell cards which are basically bombs, different shooting styles, the ability to dash into enemies or bullets, and a special barrier unique to each character.
Speaking of characters, there are three in total you can play as, each with three different shooting styles. You can only select Reimu in the beginning but once you beat the game you unlock another character. You can also equip each character with items you buy using the currency you collect during gameplay. The items have a variety of uses such as moving faster, collecting points, and even shrinking your hitbox, which is a game changer in a genre like this. And although I have yet to do it, there is a local co-op mode in this game which is a rather nice feature to have.
The tutorial is fun, simple, and has visual aids to assist you in learning how to play. The game does have limited lives and continues although you do resume exactly where you died. The levels are kind of weird in the sense that after you complete level 1, you go to level 1.5 which is just a void with enemies you faced in the previous level. There is also dialogue at the beginning of each level, the start of each boss battle, and during said boss battles. Granted the last one is hard to see because you are literally trying to dodge a hail storm of bullets. Also when you beat the game, unless you have a good ear, you can not tell who is talking.
The TouHou project really maximized what they could in this title and it shows in how the story progresses. I beat this title on its easy setting and unlocked the spunky witch Marissa. Going through the same stages and bosses as her rather than Reimu made it feel like I was playing a completely different storyline. The reason for this is because while both characters are in the same situation, their reasons for being there are totally different. It really gives each character their own individuality and not something everyone can pull off well.
There are several different features you can unlock through gameplay such as an image gallery, a sound gallery, profiles on each character, and even the option to change the type of music you listen to while you play. If there was any issue I had with this game, it would be the amount of points you earn versus how much each piece of equipment costs. This title was designed with replay value in mind, and this is clearly not only in the aforementioned currency system but also the fact that I know I haven’t faced all the bosses. And the only reason I know this is because I know who all inhabits The Scarlet Devil Mansion.
My verdict, this is a very fun game in my opinion but I feel as if some of the design choices they made with the retail value in mind may turn off some fans, which is not something you want to really do when releasing a niche genre such as a bullet hell.
REVIEW CODE: A FREE Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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