Azure Reflections review for PS4

Platform: PS4
Publisher: Sony Music Entertainment
Developer: Souvenir Circ.
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

If you are familiar with Team Shanghai Alice and the many wonderful games that came from the Touhou Project, then you should be pretty excited about Azure Reflections. While not directly created by Shanghai Alice, it was heavily inspired by other Touhou or bullet hell shooters in that series but changes things up with horizontal scrolling and other nifty touches.

You begin the game with one character Reimu and just dominate enemies with rapid fire bullets, spell cards and a number of skills, all while dodging walls and walls of screen filling bullets. As you progress you unlock 2 other playable characters, Marisa and Cirno each with their own set of shots and skills. You fly through each level picking up power-ups and maxing out your shots and finally take on a boss at the end. You can defeat bosses in a variety of ways, but some skills can help speed the battles along. For instance, just shooting a boss with normal shots will weaken them, but it takes a long time to do significant damage. using a standard absorb and tackle skill will drastically reduce the bosses energy, making the battle a bit easier.

All of the special moves are taught to you in the tutorial which I highly recommend you do before diving in. In each stage, you will have enemies in front of you and also behind you, so you need to master all of the controls or you won’t last long. Each character has different skills that can really help out in each battle. when you get overwhelmed, you have abilities like a screen clearing spell that not only wipes out enemies but takes out all of the bullets on screen for a short time. It doesn’t give you much breathing room, but any bit of room you can give yourself is very welcome.

While it’s difficult and engaging, Azure Reflections is very short. Only a handful of main stages, and 2 or 3 extra ones if you beat the main stages on harder difficulties. On the plus side, there are costume upgrades and other extras that can be unlocked the more you play, so while it isn’t major, it does provide some replay value.

The visuals and sound effects are all great, giving you that feeling that game belongs with the other titles in the Touhou Project. Everything animates well, and colors really pop out of the backgrounds. There is a bit too much dialog between the characters in some places, but you can skip these interactions if they become tiresome to you. Control is great and is very responsive throughout, once you get the hang of everything your character can do, you’ll be a bullet dodging master in no time.

Azure Reflections is a short but sweet experience that I really enjoyed. It’s not as fast and furious as other shooters of this type, but the difficulty and loads of charm really make it a hidden gem. If you are a fan of bullet hell shooters that really challenge you, you really should give Azure Reflections a try. It may be a little on the short side, but it’s still really fun and engaging. Definitely worth checking out.

Note: Sony Music Entertainment provided us with a Azure Reflections PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B