Video-games are undoubtedly a global phenomenon, that’s undeniable. Countries across the world produce their own titles, even though it’s primarily Japan and America who churn out the most games. There’s also France, whose games are shockingly similar to the ones they make in Japan. A good example of Wakfu, a French MMO with a lot of anime influence. Another French game that seems to take a lot of influence from Japan is “Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom”.

Having spent only a few hours with the game, I feel I can’t give it a full review yet. Instead, I thought I’d give you my first impressions with the game thus far. So, what is Shiness? Well, it’s an action RPG released in 2017, developed by French Indie game studio “Enigami”. Never heard of them? I’m not surprised, since this is their first and only title thus far.

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Shiness takes place on the “Celestial Islands”, a fantasy land of connected floating continents. It’s home to three different species: The cat-like Waki, the strong lion-people known as the Shelk, and plain-old humans. The main character is the Waki known as Chado, who is contacted by a magical floating faerie and told to go on a quest.

From there, Chado meets up with other characters and together they form a party and go out to save the world. It’s a typical fantasy plot in a typical fantasy world, nothing too unique on display here. Where this game shines however, is in its gameplay and combat. You explore a fairly linear overworld, that has just enough hidden nooks and crannies to make it interesting.

The fact that you can return to these areas later with different characters is great, especially when you want to gain access to an area that requires a different ability to open. The game’s main draw is its combat, which is styled like that of a fighting game. You have your light attacks, heavy attacks, guarding, and parrying. It plays out like your typical beat-em-up, and it’s really fun because of that!

This game reminds me a lot of Jade Empire, another RPG with fighting game combat. Of  course, the roleplay elements are nowhere near as polished as they were in JE. Still, what you have here is a combat system that’s just a ton of fun to play around with. You gain additional abilities and items to equip, allowing for a multitude of ways to approach combat. Couple that with 5 different playable protagonists, all of which have their own combat styles, and you have a varied and satisfying package.

The game also boasts some nice and colorful graphics, combined with manga-styled cut-scenes. Unfortunately, some characters designs look a bit off during these manga cut-scenes. I always found the Shelk to look especially awkward during these sequences, looking more like amateurish DeviantArt fan-art.

That brings us into what I didn’t like about the game. The game had a fair number of glitches and bugs, though nothing too major that I’ve encountered thus far. Some annoyances I’ve had with the game is that it has a lot of pop-in objects. Treasures chests are the biggest offenders, as they’ll appear as if they haven’t been touched when you approach them from a distance. More often than not, you’ll see them and run over to them right away, only for you to realize that it’s a chest you just opened an hour ago.

There’s also the huge difficulty spikes that occur very early on. After the first couple hours, enemies become relentless and suddenly have a ton of health. On top of this, most enemies you’ll encounter hit like freight-trains. Probably the game’s biggest flaw is its lack of fast travel early on. I don’t know if they introduce it later, but getting around on foot in this game is tedious. This is especially true when the game forces you to run though the same areas over and over again to complete missions.

I’m on the fence as to whether or not I like this game yet. A lot of this comes down to the fact that I’ve only spent a few hours with it thus far. The combat’s fun and engaging, while the characters and world are beautiful. It’s just the difficulty spikes, bugs, and the awkwardness of the manga cut-scenes that I find to be annoying. Still, what little I have played of the game has been pretty satisfactory so far. Once I complete the game, I’ll be sure to have a proper review out on it!

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