Friday, 26 August 2022

Shining Wisdom - Onward, to 2D!

Being a diehard Saturn fan is hard, we know this. After years of acknowledging that our favorite console has been looked down upon by the gaming public and focusing on the what if's and why's of the Sega Saturn's history, we need as many wins as we can get. This brings me to the Shining series, a flagship franchise for Sega that has some of the most constant quality throughout its duration. It's not the highest quality, but it is definitely quality none the less. The Shining series has been fantasy gameplay that one can trust and popping these games in can cause you to get absorbed into its world and love taking down monsters and villains.

Sadly, going into Shining Wisdom with these expectations will not bear the wanted results. With all of the cool perspective and dungeon crawling fun from Shining the Holy Ark, you would think a year prior, the game wouldn't be so brutally different. How naive I was to think so. This was a bit of a downer coming into it. This was all based on expectations and not in an objective view, I will admit. Going into it, you see a top-down view of a game and you expect this just to be an outer world view and noncombat perspective. Then you go into the wilderness and find out that this is what you have and there's not much else to it. 

Going through a hub world, talking to civilians and exploring forests is one thing, but when you find out that you are literally just swinging swords and casting spells in that world and nothing more, there is a sour sense of disappointment that goes along with it. Yes, there is good gameplay here and I'll get to that, but going into it like this, knowing my child side, at a young age, I probably would have stopped playing it outright. Just walking around swinging at random monsters in the forest seems about as shallow an option for gameplay as you can get and you would have at least thought they would go for a classic RPG turn base portion or at least some sort of close-up view of the combat, but no, you swing a sword, they get knocked away and explode. 

The graphics are about as underwhelming as it sounds. These characters look cartoonish, the shading is smooth and the monsters look about as generic as they come. Again, if there were some other gameplay with different graphics behind this, it would have been much more palletable, but as is, it's very difficult to take this seriously. 

Now, is it a terrible game? No, it's just not what you would consider a deep, engrossing experience. There is some fun to be had with taking down a whole ton of monsters with swords and magic as you traverse caves, wilderness, castles and fantasy settings. Once you get over the initial gameplay experience and start to play, you can start paying more attention to the story, which is where the game thrives to a degree. The plot and progression are actually quite good, as is the leveling system for your protagonist. The puzzles are fun, though, they do outstay their welcome somewhat with how frequent they are. It starts off pretty slow with having to use healing plants more and more as you fight monsters on a very large scale. The grind is not especially bad, considering each of them take one or two hits to kill and they drop some pretty helpful items along the way. 

The more comfortable you get with the game, the better it gets. If this is your cup of tea, then Christmas has come because this is not an especially short game, but it also isn't so long as to overstay its welcome. The graphics and character designs, along with the gameplay are all an acquired taste and if you're not already prone to liking this style, this could be a pretty hard game to grow into. Consider this a mixed review from someone who has grown accustomed to the Shining series' better titles. Overall, it's only recommended for a certain audience, everyone else may be pulled away from its presentation. Graphics don't make the game, but that's obviously not the only place this game falls short. For all its faults, it's not a terrible game, just know what you're getting before you spend a lot of money on it. Until then, keep crawling those dungeons and don't forget to bring some water.

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