Reviews: Stella Glow
Why I quit this game.
This review has spoilers. It wasn't because of the gameplay. That was actually rather fun. It wasn't the art style or music. I rather liked those. It wasn't the characters. While archetypal, I liked most of them as well. The problem was the game's story. After a certain point in the story, it turns into another, "God is Evil and we must save humanity from Him!" story that's so popular amongst JRPG's, complete with the requisite speech from the hero about how humanity has become too awesome and Gods would just hold us back. I've never liked this plot for a few reasons: I'm a religious person, so I feel personally insulted, the plot always feels rather simplistic, with the "God" usually being an uninteresting Flat Character, and a lot of Unfortunate Implications: The "God" and attendant religion are usually based heavily on Christianity, a minority religion in Japan that's historically been persecuted. But Stella Glow adds an extra problem to my list of complaints. The "God" in this game is a giant, evil moon crystal made of humanity's negative aspects that wants to wipe humanity out. Why do all of the characters call it God? Why couldn't the hero have made his whole speech about how they're going to beat back the GEMC? Why is he talking about how great and awesome humanity is when the enemy they can barely hope to fight is made out of all of humanity's flaws? They're taking themes that I don't like and putting them over a narrative that they don't actually fit. This is a good game in many ways, but it would be so much better if the writers had tried to deviate from the ISO standard JRPG plot just a little.
Great game...hope for a sequel or spiritual successor
Stella glow is honestly one of the best games I played on my 3DS. It's story may not surprise you (it hits pretty much every cliché ever), but the characters are fleshed out nicely, and the animations are beautiful. The music is wonderful, and the dialogue is definitely an A+. The voice acting is amazing, and you can really feel the emotions of each scene. Gameplay-wise, the game is also pretty amazing. It's pretty easy to get a hang of the controls, the difficulty is about right, and as mentioned before, the animation for each attack is amazing, with attacks like "Ragna Break" and "Terminal Strike" being some of the best I can remember seeing. The sometimes lengthy battles don't feel too tedious thanks to these, and you don't HAVE to watch the animations if you don't want to (excluding the Conduct songs). Overall, I find it a more than worthy swan song for Image Epoch. RIP, Image Epoch. If you like games like Fire Emblem, this game is definitely for you. Rating: 5/5 (Can't recommend it enough, honestly)
A Resounding Anthem
I should start by getting one important thing out of the way: Stella Glow is very anime, and that can either be its main strength or its main weakness. Elements such as the mechanic of cute girls singing cute jpop to activate powerful effects, the at-times outlandish outfits (coupled with the very suggestive imagery of Tuning and Conducting) and the Dating Sim-esque Affinity system that allows for a special ending with your favorite cute anime girl (or boy, we don't judge here)... these are the things that give Stella Glow its
A Worthy Swan Song? *UNMARKED SPOILERS*
Is Stella Glow a worthy swan song for Imageepoch? I want to say yes, but they wouldn't bring in any new people with the game itself. Imageepoch recycled some elements, particularly from the Arc series; Luminous Arcs 1 & 2, as well as Arc Rise Fantasia. Familiar elements in the story:
- Leader figure is strongly associated with a “Church” theme (Heath, Luminous Arc)
- Older figure sacrifices self for protagonists (Clyde, Arc Rise Fantasia, implied)
- God is actually kind of a dick (Luminous Arc)
- Crystallization to “save” mankind (Real’s group, Arc Rise Fantasia)
- Best friend betrays you (Alf, Arc Rise Fantasia)
- Framerate drops a bit during certain Conduct Songs and if you switch on 3D
- Voiced lines cut out abruptly on certain skills
- Without scenes, combat is bland and uninteresting as there are no actual map animations
- Grinding gets a bit boring and is a little necessary at the very end
- Beyond a second playthrough there's little incentive to keep playing. There is no Gallery or Scene Viewer function. There are also no secrets; you cannot save Anastasia or redeem Xeno.
- Alto is an expy of Roland
- Nonoka is a callback to Saki and Ayano design wise
- Hilda = Fatima but without the appropriate bod
- Klaus strongly resembles Heath to further their connection
- Dante is a more aggressive Rasche
- Rusty strongly resembles Serge
- Rather nice art.
- VERY pretty music. Songs in particular are lovely and meaningful if you translate them.
- Classical combat with scenes and rather nice animations.
- Despite the recycled concepts, it still has an engaging story.
- Likeable characters.
- Excellent voice acting.
Pretty Fun Gameplay, But Infuriating Story
I have to admit, I have recently just gotten this game. So, I played through it, having some fun, the usual. It's an Atlus game. That goes without saying. But since this is a review, I'm just going to cut straight to the point. Gameplay-wise, this is a pretty fun tactical RPG. The turn speed is pretty decently paced, the characters are useful in battle with all their cool abilities, the music's pretty cool, and the difficulty is very reasonable. What I CAN'T get down with, however, is this game's story, and how it treats some of its characters. Apparently, the ONLY characters we should care about are the witches and Alto, seeing as how only the females should be the former, and how only Alto should be the Conductor. To add insult to injury, characters like Rusty and Ewan, for instance, begin to take a backseat in the plot as it progresses, while the witches basically steal the spotlight there, and NOT in the good way. To see that I had to max out the bonds with witches differently from the rest of the characters was bull, but what REALLY killed it for me was how the "tuning" was portrayed in a sensual light, which pissed me off to no end. Overall, do NOT play this game for its story. There's no satisfaction if you do so. But if you want an RPG with fun gameplay, and characters that are pretty interesting, then you should check it out. Who knows? Maybe you'll like something that I didn't. Rating: 4/5