Azure Reflections (PS4, PC)

Azure Reflections is a 2-D horizontally side-scrolling shooter, but it’s also associated with the “Bullet Hell” sub-genre.  Which means that you are tasked with avoiding and maneuvering around tons of projectiles on screen while you shoot.  The cast is entirely full of annoying cute anime girls who can somehow fly and fire magic bullets.  Aside from some Japanese symbols, the title logo also has the word “Touhou” in the corner.  I’ve seen that word in some other game press releases I’ve gotten, but I have no idea what it means.  Anyway, this game is available to download on PS4 and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Even though this is a simple arcade style shooter, you do more than just hold down the fire button and move.  The circle button is for shooting in front of you, to your right.  But you can also use the square button to shoot to your left, to dispatch enemies coming from behind.  The X button uses one of your Spirit Cards, and acts like a screen clearing bomb when you’re in a pinch.  When you are fighting bosses, if you hit them enough times you can press the triangle button to dash into them to defeat them easier.  And that’s pretty much the basics on controls.  There is a good tutorial in the game to explain things, too.  When you get hit by a bullet, you’ll be stunned for a second as you see stars, plus you’ll lose some energy.  When you lose all your energy, you’ll fall off the screen and lose a life.  When you lose all your lives, it’s Game Over.

As you progress, you’ll be able to unlock two other characters to play as, each with their own shot patterns.  When you defeat enemies, they’ll leave behind little icons you can pick up, and some of them you can use to buy accessories for your characters.  These accessories also give you special perks if you equip them in-game.  Only problem is the icons are hard to distinguish from the bullets, and the game is very difficult, even on Easy Mode.  But if you enjoy “Bullet Hell” shooters, you may want to check this one out, especially since you hardly see these kinds of games anymore.

Kid Factor:

Azure Reflections is rated T for Teen with an ESRB descriptor of Violence.  Shooting small enemies with magic bullets causes them to explode, but larger bosses, which are all flying anime girls, just burst into stars when defeated.  But after you defeat them, you still talk to them like they’re OK, so I don’t think the game shows a whole lot of violence at all.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, and younger players and many gamers may find the challenge too difficult.

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