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Best storytelling in the series, but worst gameplay (though still decent)
RefleX takes many departures from the series, in no small part due to being developed by a different member of SITER SKAIN from the other two games. The soundtrack goes in a very different direction, ALLTYNEX is not the Big Bad, the story involves outside forces, and there is a lot of emphasis on storytelling.

Let's start with that very latter point. Each stage has a bit of monologue from the pilot's point of view (at least until Area 8), there are several cutscenes and cutscene-type scenes, and there is an intermission between Areas 7 and 8, which are separated on the order of a few years. The unlockable soundtrack mode provides even more exposition; enough to give you an understanding of the game's plot beyond "kill stuff and destroy the head honcho" without needing the official guidebook. Just to highlight several storytelling moments during gameplay:
  • At the end of Area 4, the Boss Warning Siren plays, not because of a boss battle, but because a third party invades and finishes off the boss you were fighting.
  • Just before the end of Area 6, you see your enemies-turned-allies fighting alongside you, and the Area 1 boss from before chasing after a mutual enemy.
  • In Area 7...let's just say that Gameplay and Story Integration goes full force.

But enough about storytelling in shoot em ups, how does the game itself hold up?

This is your usual Vertical Scrolling Shooter, but with an Attack Reflector, somewhat like Giga Wing. In order to encourage its use, reflected shots do much more damage than your main attack, especially against bosses, and there is a scoring system revolving around reflecting attacks to start a multiplier chain and raise the multiplier. If you just want to survive, it is good enough, and you'll have fun killing enemies with their own attacks. If you're playing for score, you'll quickly discover that the best scores revolve around very specific Score Milking spots in the game, with everything else meaning almost nothing rather than the scoring being based around consistent performance.

If you just want a more casual or basic shooting game experience with an Attack Reflector and great storytelling, go for it. If you want competitive scoring, you may want to play another game, such as the other two games in the series.
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