Written by Mark Turcotte
There was a time when action-RPG’s were relegated to massive big budget AAA games. It wasn’t too often that a smaller team would be given the opportunity to develop such a large scale game. With the rise of Indie games over the past few years and with better tools and systems to develop games, it isn’t surprising that we are beginning to see more games in the genre release. Built by a smaller team and sold at a lower price than its AAA counterparts, Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is one of those games.
Developed by Enigami, Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is an action-RPG set in a colorful and vibrant universe. Graphically the game immediately pops of the screen. The game puts you in the shoes of Chado, a witty Waki, who along with his friend Poky crash their airship on a mysterious island. It is from here that the two embark on an adventure that has them traversing the island meeting interesting characters and engaging with dangerous spirits and kingdoms.
The story is a bit heavy-handed and can be hard to follow due to unfamiliar terms being used for things, but overall it was sufficient to keep me interested. The interesting cast of characters helped keep me engaged, however there were a few of them that were more annoying than entertaining. The story has a few twists and turns but there isn’t really anything you haven’t seen before. It took me a little over 17 hours to complete the game, and for some it could take more, if they plan to dive into the many bits of lore that are littered throughout the game.
Exploration is one pillar of the games mechanics. The game has the feel of those older 3d platform games as you progress through the levels finding ways to traverse elemental puzzles. Each character in your party has a specific ability that they can use to interact with the environment. Players must solve these puzzles using these abilities. At first it was fun to mix and match the abilities to solve the puzzles but a bit further into the game the puzzles began to become a bit tedious and receptive. It almost felt that they were there to just stretch the game out a bit longer which may not have been the case, but it certainly felt that way.
The game shines in its combat system. Unlike most action-RPG’s the games battles don’t take place within the games world as you come across enemies. Instead, when an enemy is encountered, battle is shifted to a small arena. The game creates a little battle arena for you to face the enemies in. Players can have up to three active members in their party but only one at a time can battle in the arena. One enemy at a time appears in the arena and you face off against them until all are defeated. The game feels more like a brawler or fighting game here. The game features punches, kicks, blocks, and dodges all adding to some intense fights that feel and look great.
Combat also features another layer outside of just the fighting action. It features elemental moves that will have players strategically thinking how to tackle each enemy encounter. Elements like water, earth, and fire can all be used at the right times to do extra damage and take down enemies. These are extremely useful for some of the games interesting Boss fights. Accented by the games interesting character models a few of the boss fights are honestly some of the best parts of the game.
Overall Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom has some style and flare that for some action-RPG fans may be worth taking the plunge. An interesting cast of characters and a world that is vibrant and inviting helps create a title that though not the best in its class is well worth taking for a spin. The lower price point also adds to the appeal of the action-RPG’s adventure. In the end Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom isn’t the best at what it does, but it sure does its best to make you think it is.