What is Stella Glow?
Stella Glow is a strategic role playing game, which tells the story of an elite corps known as the Regnant Knights, who are on a mission to track down four singing witches, in the hope they'll unite to stop the tyranny of a fifth evil witch, who's been going around crystallising villages across the land. In practice, this means you and your party travel across the kingdom (via story driven cutscenes and conversations - there's little actual exploring involved), befriending the witches and battling with bad guys along the way, in Stella Glow's strategic turn-based battles.
How do you play Stella Glow?
Your time with Stella Glow will mostly be spent watching the story unfold, during large, "visual novel" style cutscenes, with the odd battle punctuating the story. Taking place on large, grid-based battlefields, these battles require a bit of forward planning and strategy if you want to come out victorious. Your team and your enemies take it in turns to move around the battlefield, and attack, defend, or sling spells and special attacks at each other, with the aim being to reduce the enemy's health to zero. Where you position your troops is key, as each member of your team has different strengths and weaknesses in battle - for example, sturdy knight Archibald excels at dealing out and absorbing damage, and makes a great protector for the weaker units, unlike the water witch Lisette, who's usefulness lies in her ability to heal her allies than in her raw attack power.
How easy is Stella Glow to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, don't let the strategic battles fool you - Stella Glow actually isn't all that bad when it comes to ease of use. The battles aren't exceptionally difficult, nor do they require flawless strategies, especially as levelling up on the battlefield - through killing enough enemies usually - will restore your health too, and can be a useful strategy to boot. They may be a little trickier than some other role-playing games, more along the lines of Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics than simple stuff like Pokemon, but they aren't as punishing as either.
For younger players, Stella Glow is very text heavy, with a strong reliance on story-telling, which means being a strong reader is key. While you could skip through it all to get to the battles with little consequences, you would be missing out on over half the game that way. Scenes lasting half an hour or more aren't uncommon, and could be a bit overkill for less proficient readers.
- "The rusty cogs spin… They squeak, as if screaming… The cogs spin, and the needle moves... Thousands of colors shine on dark times..."
- "My knife is real quick. You're gonna be dead meat if you can't dodge it!"
- "It's cute! It has big, googly eyes and legs that look like they might fall off at any moment!"
As a role-playing game, Stella Glow does have battles - and therefore violence - although it is relatively minor in severity. Players do battle with various fantastical creatures, such as fairies, jelly blobs and orcs, as well as human soldiers, in turn-based combat, using swords, spears and spells. Hits are accompanied by impact sounds, flashes and the occasional blood spurt effect. Outside of battle, there are a handful of still images of characters stabbed or impaled by weapons, sometimes accompanied by sizeable blood stains on clothing.
On occasion, there is also suggestive dialogue and sex references, particularly when talking to your party member Rusty. Often commenting on the ladies bodies, or lamenting the 'chastity' of the temple women, most of the sexual innuendo tends to emanate from his mouth. Other such references include comments like "Those massive knockers float around like they own the place" and "Do you want your boobs grabbed?", as well as a conversation option where the protagonist Alto can declare how much of a masochist he is. An obligatory hot spring scene shows your female (and male) party members wrapped in a towel, while one female character who decided to forego the towel only has her modesty protected by some well place steam (or bubbles). All in all, fairly standard Japanese role-playing game stuff.
Bad language also rears it's head from time to time, with words such as sh*t, b*tch and b*stard cropping up in dialogue - alongside the words a*shole and a*shat as insults.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS