Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, RPG
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Apr 18, 2017
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a fairly interesting mashup of game genres and styles of rpgs. At the core it is a action rpg with an emphasis on adventure. Upon entering the game and playing for the first time you can see glimpses of many greats that came before. Glimpses of influence that is. Such as Zelda, Tales of Series, jrpgs, and even a bit of the Naruto game series. Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is developed by Enigami and Published by Focus Home Interactive. Originally I found Shiness as a steam greenlight game several years ago along with it’s original Kickstarter page. I believe by then it was listed under Ynnis Interactive and had a whole different publisher as well. Shiness was described as a good halfway mix of interactive manga and video game. So now after years of waiting Shiness is here . Was it worth the wait ?
To start Shiness off you have a pretty interesting turn of events where 2 furry creatures are flying aboard a airship. It crashes down onto a planet separating these would be heroes. As you the tutorial begins you play as these two characters separately and learn a bit about them including their various ways to control puzzles and their fighting styles. These two again “would be heroes” are known as Chado and Poky. If you were to combine these two characters into a single character I am entirely sure you would have Naruto. There is a good amount of whimsical comedy that comes from these two as you play. Learning small tidbits of the game world and the immediate surroundings. These two aren’t the biggest animals in the jungle but as the local natives soon learn, little furries can pack a big ass bite!
As you play through the opening levels and learn how Chado and Poky have their own separate mechanics to handle various puzzles in the game you are also tossed into some choose your own adventure style dialogue and combat. On occasion you are given some voice acting and other times not so much. I really hate when a game is only half voiced over. Especially when I am enjoying the voice acting. Granted it is cheesy and sometimes very cringy but it was a good kind of cringe!!!
The combat is pretty in depth almost like it could have been made by Platinum games. Where it is easy to pick up but difficult to master. From picking up new scrolls and mastering the spell on each scroll then passing it on to the next character to master, to leveling up and unlocking new combos. The combat is very very in depth. You also get to learn which enemies are weak to various elements in combat. Then using those elements to your strength. The spells have charges and you use said charges as you fight. While in combat the play area changes elemental attunement and when you need to recharge your element you wait for the attunement and… Charge your power. You can quickly fire off spells or hold them down to charge them for extra power. Again this is all while also knowing your characters combos. Then you can change each character out to fight as another. Think of a fighting game tag system. However while a character is not the main character in combat you can set tactics or passive abilities as to how it supports the main combat character. Early on you have healing, healing, and… Healing! If one character dies in combat it swaps you to the next character and that is one less support character you have. Then you have your ultimate style abilities that go full on flash for a quick cutscene style ability that is just full of awe! Combat really… SHINESS!!! …..
There are times however when in combat or just in general where the controls feel unresponsive. Especially when you are trying to use a healing item, or item in general. The only times I died or lost a character in combat were when I was smashing down on the d-pad to use a healing item and the game just wouldn’t respond to my controls, and just to clarify I was using a cable on my controller not the wireless version so it wasn’t a loss of signal. There was only one encounter in my entire time playing where my entire party was killed which resulted in a game over and this was again due to the fact my healing was unresponsive. Maybe I smashed it to hard. That brings me to one of my biggest complaints of the game. It has no quick saves. I get the game having save locations and some games not having quick saves makes sense. However for this game it did not. So when I died to unresponsive controls not letting me heal and then found my self an hour behind in my save because it didn’t have quick saves I was pretty freakin’ pissed off!
Through all the fighting and the mostly interesting story the one thing that stands out and remains mostly consistent is the art style. The anime themed art style of the game looks gorgeous. Granted not exactly as advertised when looking at the clearly touched up screenshots on the store fronts but it still looks pretty damn good. There are many vibrant colors and each environment is different from one another. This adds to the immersion of the game and it is just beautiful to look at. The one thing that stands out within the art style is there are times when they use actual cutscenes, or anime style scenes. Then there are times when it is just a manga or comic book page with images and some voice lines over it. This part of the game made it feel like corners were cut to get the game made, that leads me to my next point.
If you look at the greenlight pages and the kickstarter page there were features and mechanics that never made it into the game. There were stretch goals that never made it into the game. Knowing this and then seeing the developer name not being the original name. Knowing the publisher changed as well. At one point it seemed Shiness would be published by indie publisher Plugin Digital. Now this makes me wonder if this was done to try and avoid the semi backlash that could occur. Well you said the game was going to have this. The response is yes it was, but now the game is made by this team and published by this one so we aren’t bound to give you said stretch goals and mechanics. Mind you I don’t know the actual politics that go into this. I will reach out to the developers and publishing team to see if I can get any sort of comment on this. Note the game currently has no local multiplayer which was a stretchgoal, but it did come out on the consoles which was just missed in the kickstarter campaign. As for the developer it is possible one company was the creator and another was more of a localization studio.
In all Shiness is a pretty good game. There are many nuisances and bugs I encountered while playing but nothing game breaking. My biggest issues were the saving system the game uses. No Auto saves, no quick saves, and only able to save at specific locations annoyed the shit out of me. Sometimes having to back track just to be safe. The games elemental system that not only effects combat but also story was pretty interesting. Your choices you make during dialogue sway your character elemental attunement. If you get to a certain amount of attunement for a element there are areas within the game world you can access that you couldn’t before. That adds to reply value because you might get to experience something you couldn’t otherwise your first time playing. The inconsistent amount of voice acting, and the changes in cutscene style were only mildly annoying. Gaining new party members and seeing their abilities and puzzle controls was always a fun experience. At the price of 29.99$ this game is definitely worth the price of admission.
Nice but quirky voice acting
Amazing Art style
No auto saves
No quick saves
Only save at save locations
Not fully voiced over
Controls sometimes unresponsive
Draul gives Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom a Drastik Measure 7.7 out of 10 (77)
Don’t get me wrong here, there are a lot of negative things about the game but ultimately the parts of the game that are good are VERY good. Where as the negative parts of the game are just mildly annoying and can easily put aside to play the game. I would love to see the game get it’s co-op modes, its fighting modes and some of the other features that it had originally wanted to reach in it’s kickstarter, or you know actually get the goals it did reach. Still this game is worth buying.
I got my copy as a free press key via Evolve Terminal