Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is out now for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One, so naturally we put it through the paces and have a video review for you to watch to see if it’s an action-RPG worth getting into. It’s definitely one of the more charming looking and sounding games to release in 2017, but is that enough to get past some of its technical issues? Found out below by watching our review.
Story spoilers aren’t present in the review, so proceed with confidence.
Hey now action RPG fans, Matt Heywood here to review the charming yet sometimes frustrating Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom.
There will be no story spoilers, so you should be fine watching this review and keeping the game’s plot unspoiled.
Shiness is a beautiful and vibrant looking RPG that also infuses fighting game mechanics into its combat system, making it a unique but familiar feeling game if you delved into this genre back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
I must say that its visuals and musical score are what first ensnared me while playing the game, because both are top notch even though this game isn’t from a AAA development studio.
It sports a cel-shaded visual style that works perfectly for the game’s fantastical worlds, which are essentially floating celestial bodies, each with their own unique landscapes. They also provide a comic book feel for the characters, which is reinforced in the game’s cutscenes, which are all done with a motion comic presentation.
The graphics truly are picture perfect, but they’re made to be even better thanks to Shiness’ intoxicating soundtrack. The musical score is so well done that I’d buy this game’s soundtrack, which for all intents and purposes is based on brand new IP and has no prior influences. The score just perfectly compliments the tone of the game and certain environments, so it adds to this game’s already high level of polish in terms of its presentation.
Gameplay-wise Shiness is no slouch either, but it does suffer from a few technical issues that prevent it from being a supremely enjoyable experience.
Shiness is an action-RPG with a fighting game twist if you will. You first play as Chado, who is a chipmunk-like humanoid looking for a mythical land to reunite with his mother. He’s eventually joined by four other playable characters, who all bring unique moves and animations to the Shiness experience.
Like most RPGs you have a somewhat open-world that encourages exploration thanks to the game’s main quests, side quests, and other challenges to keep you searching the lush game worlds for new gear and enemies to fight so you can level up your team.
Shiness also employs its fair share of puzzles, which mostly require a bit of thought to solve, and don’t really require a trip to Google. The puzzles also highlight each character’s unique skill, which are required to solve certain puzzles. This could involve Chado’s stone for placing on switches, or Poky’s wrench for re-routing energy to power nodes.
Combat is the most untraditional aspect of this RPG, as it mimics a fighting game’s mechanics. After you encounter an enemy you are enclosed in an arena and must chain together attacks and combos while also doing your damnedest to counter, parry, and dodge the attacks of your enemies.
You have melee and magical abilities to use in combat, so after you start mastering new skills for each category you do become a formidable machine for some ass kicking. Magical attacks, or Shi, can be strung together with melee attacks by equipping them and mastering them. You can eventually have four magical attacks equipped alongside four melee attacks, so your options for combat become fairly numerous about halfway through the game.
While fighting you can also switch your characters out on the fly, as well as have them provide defensive and offensive buffs while they’re on the sideline, so combat, if anything else, is a very frenetic and active gameplay experience in Shiness.
While this arena-style combat scenario may sound great on paper it doesn’t quite come off that way in game. I found the combat to be overly brutal at times thanks to the fact that the AI seemingly predicts every incoming attack with a counter, which can get you caught in a combo of death that is inescapable. These moments lead to button mashing and cursing the maker, which can be exacerbated by the game’s sometimes wonky camera.
I also noticed a few technical glitches with my companions as they followed me, which included falling through the map, or jittering as fast as the Flash for no good reason.
Even with the wonky camera and frustratingly good AI combatants, Shiness is still a very ambitious and entertaining title that most RPG fans should pick up. You can tell the team poured their hearts into the game and its characters and world, which are both deep and worth exploring. The game’s visuals and sound design are easily its most noticeable highlights, but the plot, characters, and even the gameplay are all worth checking out. Just be prepared for this cute and cuddly looking game to throw some nasty challenges at you, because its combat system is no joke, if not a bit too brutal.
Shiness may not be the next Final Fantasy 7, but it easily earns a respectable 70/100 from your friends here at EB. It’s out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, so if you’re in need of a break from Mass Effect or Zelda, Shiness may just be the change of pace you’re looking for.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”
Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a PS4 code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.