Review – Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom
Take the characters and plot of a JRPG (Japanese roleplaying game) then mix them in with exploration, some light platforming and puzzle gameplay, and combat from a kung fu movie and the result is Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom, available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Players are dropped – literally, as the game starts with an airship crashing – into the world of Shiness, and what a gorgeous world it is. The development team at Enigami have created a lush, colourful world that looks like the cutscenes from last generation’s roleplaying games, and populated it with characters and creatures that fit perfectly within it.
Exploring as the main character Chado, pronounced Shadow, players meet a slew of characters and gather a party of four companions – each with their own skillsets used to help traverse the terrain and solve simple puzzles. Chado, for example, can summon large boulders that can be used to hold down weight-activated switches or thrown to distract enemies, while Kayenne, another member of the group, uses telekinesis to move distant objects.
The game shines in battle, with a combat system that’s almost too elaborate for its own good. Gamers start out with basic punches and kicks, and the ability to use them in combos to take out enemy combatants. Play for an hour and you’ll be using magic as well, but it’s not so simple as just casting the spell as each one uses a corresponding elemental resource.
Use up your store of that resource and you’ll need to pause and harness it from the environment – and you can only do THAT when it’s available, indicated by the colour of the shield surrounding the combat arena. While you’re doing all that harnessing the enemy you’re facing will be looking to take your head off, so there’s some strategic thinking needed. Add in dodging, parrying, and special moves in the form of the QTE (quick time event) driven Hyper attacks, and it’s easy to see how combat can start to overwhelm.
While the fisticuffs get complicated, the story never does. It’s a ‘by the numbers’ JRPG-esque tale that suffers a bit from some poor translation and over-the-top villains, but at least it’s in the ‘good’ hammy way. There are some things left unresolved by the ending, but the last third of the game is a rush to wind things up so I’m not sure if it’s things left for a sequel or simply forgotten loose ends that only I wondered about.