When it comes to the role-playing genre, there’s a huge variety available, each boasting its own unique quality. Where games of this type tend to share a likeness with one another is with their story, which is often set inside a sci-fi or supernatural themed world. Keeping with this theme comes developer Enigami’s RPG, Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom, a magical RPG that introduces players to species such as Wakis, Shelks and the existence of a supernatural presence called Shi.
Shiness has all the elements you’d expect from an engaging RPG with mystical creatures and spirits of the earth, which can usually never be seen or heard by anyone. For reasons unbeknownst to the player, Chado, the main character of the game, is somehow in contact with one of these creatures named Terra, that only he can see and talk to. After Chado and his friend Poky crash their ship, the pair becomes entangled in a webbed story of a war between species and lands, as well as a runaway princess and her hunter.
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PC
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: 18 April 2017
Price: £24.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom features a bizarre story full of weird characters and strange beings that are introduced to the player from every foreseeable angle. The game jumps around a bit in the beginning, as Shiness attempts to explain every detail the player will need to know before the gameplay starts, which can be slightly overwhelming at first, but after some initial confusion, the story of Shiness is fed slowly to the player as they progress.
While initially, you’ll be able to take control of Chado and Poky, a species called Waki, you’ll eventually encounter other characters who join the party and become playable. Each character has the same basic move set, which simply consists of a button for punching and one for kicking. Your character can also guard against attacks as well as dodge them, which I found to be very hit and miss. As I progressed further through the game I unlocked new disciplines that each character can learn, these allowed me to use new combos for bigger damage, as well as various magic attacks with different element charges such as water and earth.
Learning to combine the magic, combos, basic attacks and dodging allowed me to win fights easily but required a fair bit of practice. For the most part, though, the fighting feels very fluid and flows well between both character and enemy with no frame rate jumps or lagging during fights.
After each fight players are given a ranking, from S to F, depending on how well you did, how much damage you took and how many of your characters died during the fight. Ultimately this score offers no change to the main game itself, so you don’t have to worry about doing well. It does, however, provide players with better items depending on the rank you get. To give you an advantage in fights, players can sneak up on enemies and get the first hit in before the fight even begins, obviously, though, this can only be achieved with enemies roaming the wild and not boss or scheduled fights, but it is still nice to have the upper hand and is definitely beneficial with some of the tougher wild fights.
When players aren’t fighting, they’ll probably either be completing quests or solving puzzles. The game offers a nice balance between the three, with main story quests providing your motivation for following through with the story. Side quests can be picked up from notice boards, and an advised level for them stops you getting beaten to a pulp. Overall, Shiness‘side quests don’t differ too much with the player either completing a fetch quest or fighting an enemy before reporting back to someone, both of which are fun enough to offer a slight difference from the main quest but won’t particularly grab you in any other way.
Puzzles are weaved into the game in all aspects of the world, with some requiring completion in order to progress. Each character has a special skill they can use to assist with these puzzles, whether that’s using telekinesis or summoning a rock to weigh down a switch. Most puzzles are obvious, but a few of them will require the usual out of the box thinking to complete, offering a change of pace from the fighting.
The world you explore in Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a pretty one, which is mostly down to the lovely cel-shaded style graphics. The characters all feel uniquely designed, and the lands you get to explore, although not particularly large, offer hidden paths and plenty of items, enemies, wildlife and other miscellaneous objects to interact with.
A mini map and fairly detailed larger map with quest markers and trackers make finding where you need to go fairly obvious, which isn’t something always present in a lot of modern RPGs. The colours of Shiness are consistently bright and eye catching, and provide a perfect job of drawing the player in and helping to engage them in the story. The cutscenes are told through manga-style comic strip stills, which is enhanced by some over enthusiastic voice acting, which is to be expected from these kinds of characters in this kind of game.
In my time with Shiness I did encounter a couple of issues. Firstly, the camera has a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and if you happen to fall somewhere that it can’t reach then the camera struggles to figure out where to go. This can be annoying if it happens consistently, but for the most part, it manages to follow the character around fairly well.
There were also a number of times I tried to slide down a slope and found Chado got stuck half way down, leaving me unable to jump off or do anything other than letting the character figure his own way out, which took a good few minutes. Both issues happened early on, so coupling this with the overwhelming start the game has, it’s easy to feel a little put off at the start of Shiness, but the game is definitely worth sticking with for the long haul.
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is another addition to the list of fun role-playing titles that do a whole load of things right by the genre. Transporting you to a supernatural world that is beautiful to look at and run through, and has a fighting system that flows well, if not a little hard to get to grips with. Issues with the camera and minor bugs prevent the experience being a perfect one, as well as the game drowning you in a lot of information in a short amount of time. Overall, Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom offers a fun experience to those who are already familiar with RPGs but requires a little effort on the gamer’s part to stick with it long enough to reap the benefits on offer.