Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom is a needle in a haystack of RPGs that you may not want to find.
As a gamer, I grew up playing platformers on the SNES and it wasn’t until the original PlayStation that I really started to delve into the role-playing game (RPG) genre, but when I did it was love at first sight with the likes of Grandia and Final Fantasy.
Nowadays the RPG market is a very different landscape, with the JRPG sub-genre trying to innovate with every new release such as Final Fantasy XV and of course Persona 5. And next out is another JRPG-style game from a French developer Enigami – Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom.
Unlike the larger money-backed games Shiness was a Kickstarter-funded project, and at times it feels like it’s just trying too hard to do what the backers want. The saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” certainly comes to mind.
Upon starting the game you can immediately tell that it needed some more time in the oven. Wonky camera controls and graphical bugs such as walking on top of the water instead of in it are just a few of the issues I came across. These, of course, are forgivable in a game that had probably 10% of the budget of a game such as Persona 5, but it is difficult to not compare the two when they were released so close together.
Both the story and character range in the game fall into JRPG tropes and the story is pretty average for the genre it is trying to cater to, illustrated by some lovely animated cutscenes and even comic strips that look like they have been pulled out of the latest Japanese manga.
But the best part of Shiness is indeed its combat, which is a mix between Dragon Ball Xenoverse’s free-flowing combat and the Tales series. You and an enemy have a life bar at the top of the screen almost like a fighting game, and you use your button combos and other skills (magic) to go to town on the enemies. Different enemies will be weak to certain physical or magical attacks and there is a good layer of strategy which especially shows itself in boss fights.
Unfortunately the complexity doubles in the menus where you will be equipping abilities and items and micro-managing every part of your party – this was almost where I had to give in, as it was just too much.
Shiness tries so hard to please everyone and pile as much as possible into the game that it crumbles under its own complexity, creating an experience that in one moment can be fun and exciting (at least where combat is concerned) yet can quickly switch to making the player want to crawl into a hole and hide.
Fans of JRPGs will definitely enjoy parts of this game but if you aren’t a fan of the genre I wouldn’t recommend Shiness as a starting point.
Publishers: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Modes: Single Player
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher on a PlayStation 4.