Stella Glow Review: A Glowing Farewell
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Atlus USA
Release Date: November 17, 2015
A review copy and screenshots have been provided by Atlus USA
Stella Glow is a Strategy Role Playing Game by the now defunct company, Imageepoch. It was meant to be a 10 year anniversary title for the developer; unfortunately, before the game was even released, the company filed for bankruptcy, and the game was released in Japan by Sega.
In Stella Glow, you play as Alto – a boy who has no memories of anything prior to 3 years ago. One day out in the forest he encounters Hilda, The Witch of Destruction, who tells him to leave his village. After ignoring her request, Hilda and her group called the Harbringers attack his village, crystallizing everyone in it. During this attack Alto’s adoptive sister, Lissete, transforms into the Water Witch. Alto, himself, becomes what’s known as a “Conductor”, a person with the ability to tune witches, or essentially drive out their negative emotions. The last person with this ability was a mythical hero, known as Elcrest, who supposedly went to the moon to calm down an angry God one thousand years ago. Alto and Lissete are saved by the Regant Knights, and ultimately join them. Now that they have obtained a conductor, the knights are ordered by Queen Anastasia to go out in search of the Wind Witch, Fire Witch, and Earth Witch as the four witches combined can sing a song that can reverse Hilda’s crystallization.
While I found the story to be a bit boring due to its predictability and flat ending; it doesn’t mean it was bad by any means, as there are some twists and turns to spice it up. What saved the story for me, however, was the cast of characters involved in it. They’re all incredibly fun, and shine in their own ways. There are many, many party members to choose from. All come with unique personalities and battle abilities. Between Rusty’s nightlife, Archibald’s uptight personality, Keith talking about becoming future king, and Ewan always having money on his mind, there never really is a dull moment. Even in the bonding events of the game, where there is no action, nothing is ever truly stagnant. Since these bonding events are mostly one-on-one sessions where you learn more about your party members, you really see the character personalities shine.
To break up the story a bit so that you don’t go straight from mission to mission, most chapters have “free time” events. The most important thing to do during these sections is to go bond with your party. By bonding with a party member, they learn new passive abilities, making some good characters great, and other characters actually useful. By that, I mostly mean Archibald. Archibald is a great member for battle, but is quickly put on the bench because he can’t keep up due to his low movement capacity. However, if you max out his bond, he gets to move an additional 2 spaces. This is amazing, considering he has an ability that allows him to potentially block damage when near an ally. So, the higher his movement, the better. Although, unless you focus on just him, early on, it’ll be too late for him to be helpful. On the bright side, your witches will become even more powerful.
Speaking of witches, after a certain amount of time in a bonding event, you’ll have to tune them so that way they can get over any negative feelings. This ultimately increases the bond level between the both of you. Sure, it’s another free time you have to spend, and even some money thrown in there, but in the end, it’s definitely worth the investment. Some other things you can do during free time is have Alto explore an area, possibly causing him to return with an item. Or, you can have him work for money. Of course, if you want nothing to do with free time at all, by all means, you can just go to your room and rest up.
Onto the main crux of this game – the battles – specifically: positioning. Movement in Stella Glow is tied around 3 concepts: what kind of movement type you or the opponent have (if they can warp, hover, fly, or walk), how high they can jump, and the amount of tiles they can move during a movement action. For instance, with movement type, if you’re just a walker going through water, or a patch of grass, it’s terrible, as the cost of going through one tile goes up. Naturally, if you can hover, fly, or warp, none of that matters. With jump, it might not sound important, as nothing is blocked off via a high height difference, but some maps are much faster to traverse with the ability to jump high enough. Of course, if your movement type is flying, there is almost nothing you can’t fly over. If you can warp, on the other hand, nothing can stop you. Early game, none of these matter right off the bat as battles are pretty straight forward, but late game, you can pull off some really advanced techniques if you take these movements into consideration. Naturally, it would be best to keep track of where the opponent is, as well, as they might take you out Although not depicted here, friendly fire will happen depending on the move. So due Although not depicted here, friendly fire will happen depending on the move. So due be mindful of who is where.be mindful of who is where.without you noticing they could hit you from their position. Keep in mind that if you attack or get attacked from the side, the accuracy of the move goes up; if you get hit from behind, accuracy and damage is increased. Also know that height difference factors into accuracy. The higher you are, the more accurate the move is, so positioning really does matter. Positioning can make-or-break the flow of battle. Not to mention, I can name plenty of times where I have missed attacks with accuracy higher than 90%, in key moments, so always try and aim for the sides or behind if you can.
Now, this game isn’t all that hard. There will be times where the game will challenge you, certainly, but if you think, and plan things through accordingly, you’ll be fine. That said, this game is certainly no breeze either, so if you wing it there could be trouble. I beat this game without grinding at all. However, opportunities to grind are presented on the world map with red enemies, and blue enemies. Blue enemies are your usual trash mobs that can easily be taken care of. Red, on the other hand, are much tougher to deal with and are only available if you pay for them with play coins from your 3DS. If you want a real challenge from this game, try beating every mission with all of the special conditions where applicable. Some bonus items the game gives might not seem like all that much at first, but later, they certainly become worth it.
The reason why this game seems so easy is because of the use of songs in the game. In order to sing you need to fill up the song gauge. This can be done by taking damage, receiving damage, defeating an opponent, or an ally being defeated. After the song gauge has been filled up to a certain point, you can easily turn the tide of battle if you’re having trouble, or just win even faster if you’re in a rush. What it all comes down to though, is that early game sure, you might only have enough opponents to use a song once. But late game, with all the right tools and planning, it becomes ridiculously easy to just use one right after the other so it becomes sort of game-breaking in its own way.
In the end, outside of maybe its characters, nothing really sticks out at me regarding Stella Glow. Yet when you put all the pieces to this game together, it becomes a marvelous game I’d sing praises about, if needed. I don’t necessarily love it, but I do like this game a lot. While I don’t like the story all that much, and the game can be too easy at times, it’s definitely worth the check. Its characters make quite the party and enjoyable time.
+ The characters are great
+Battles are easy, but quite fun
+/- The story feels like a JRPG checklist
-Songs are way too overpowered