Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue Review

Love live, sunshine!

By Paul Hunter

I had no familiarity with the recently aired Yohane the Parhelion: Sunshine in the Mirror anime, but I knew I had to check out the Metroidvania spin-off Blaze in the Deepblue based on Inti Creates incredible track record with action platformers. The talented devs have produced some of my favourite action games in recent years like the stellar Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and always excellent Gal Gun and Azure Striker Gunvolt series.

Yohane the Parhelion is an official game set in the "Love Live! Sunshine" universe that centers on a high school idol group called Aqours. Don't worry if you're not familiar with the franchise, as the story takes a backseat to gameplay which is the real star of this adventure. Let's enter Yohane's dungeon to see what this game is all about, here are three things I like about it...and one I didn't.

Liked: Accessible Metroidvania

I've played my fair share of challenging Metroidvania games this year, including Blasphemous 2, The Last Faith and The Last Case of Benedict Fox. Yohane the Parhelion mercifully bucks this trend with an extremely accessible approach offering around nine hours of rather stress-free combat and exploration.

It's not that the bosses are a cinch though, but rather that Yohane can purchase and stock up on several types of healing potions that you can use for instant healing while in battle. As long as you take the time to break all the pots and other breakable objects you should always have a sufficient amount of Yen (the in-game currency) to refill your potion supply before each boss battle.

Like all Metroidvania games, you'll battle your way through multiple biomes, but in each one, you'll come across sections you can only access once you learn new abilities. Here again, the plentiful saves spots which you can conveniently warp to at any time help reduce the tedious backtracking for a more streamlined experience.

Liked: A Lot of Acquired Abilities

As the story goes in Yohane the Parhelion, when an undersea dungeon suddenly surfaces near Numazu, several of Yohane's friends go in to investigate—but don't return. Yohane decides to enter the dungeon to brave the depths and save her friends. Except for Yohane's faithful wolf companion Lailaps, her entire Aquors bandmates are trapped within the maze, including Hanamaru, Dia, Ruby, Chika, You, Kanan, Riko and Mari.

Throughout the game's main eight zones, one by one you'll rescue all of Yohane's friends who then will lend her their powers. Each friend's ability has an attack component, such as Dia's lightning-based attack using her Ion Blade, while also helping you progress further into the dungeon. For example, Dia's electric blade can be used to power up conveyor belts used to transport you up to higher areas.

The friend powers differ in their usefulness, with Mari's ability to freeze time being by far the most useful, while Hanamaru's rolling Sonic-like dash with a long dizzy animation afterwards is more comedic than useful in battle. That said, each ally is given their moment to shine with Hanamura's dash able to destroy floor spikes, Chika's stun gun capable of moving huge obstructing blocks out of the way and Riko's fire lob the perfect foil for melting ice barriers.

If you're familiar with the anime you'll likely get even more enjoyment from the character interactions as they hint at building off events that presumably play out in the show. A good example is Hanamaru's upgraded power which has a laptop fall into her hands and then explodes in a giant area attack, leaving her dizzy. You get the impression that Hanamaru is a comic relief character who helps her friends, usually by accident, using high-tech gadgets—much like the iconic Inspector Gadget.

What's neat is all eight of your friends have a character-specific mission to complete, coming in the form of finding an item special to them that they lost in the dungeon. Locating and retrieving these hard-to-find items will unlock the character's respective upgraded ability that might dole out more damage or have special new powers to unlock even more secrets within the dungeon.

In addition to your buddy powers, Yohane also acquires special abilities that help you explore more of the dungeon. These include a double jump, a charm that lets her walk underwater and gloves to scale walls using a stamina meter. The double jump is also especially useful during boss fights as you can leap over projectiles with greater ease or close the gap for faster attack combos. When you combine your friends' powers, their upgraded abilities and Yohane's acquired special moves, you have a huge arsenal that keeps the action fresh.

Liked: Item Crafting

A novel feature in Yohane the Parhelion is your ability to cast (craft) over 90 items. The crafting system is a snap to learn, you simply break items in the environment or kill enemies, collect the dropped ingredients and then go into the Cast menu to instantly create items. The game will even give you an on-screen alert when you've collected enough resources to craft a new item. Given the system's ease, I rarely had to give resource gathering any thought. Instead, I played through the majority of the game picking up whatever items I could and waited for the prompts to open my menu for some new item crafting.

Crafting comes in two basic forms: Creating new weapons or new accessories. There's a nice variety of weapons including crossbows, throwing daggers, battle axes, swords and katana, and threaded blades (basically a hybrid whip/sword). Accessories have a similar variety, spanning capes, cloaks, suits, rings, earrings, headbands and more. These items can give Yohane a variety of perks, from increased HP or DP (darkness points a.k.a. magic), elemental resistances, increased attack, and reduced DP cast amount, among other benefits.

The long and short of it is whatever your preferred weapon or class style is, this game has you covered. If you want to be an HP sponge that wields a mighty broadsword that's easy enough to accomplish using the crafting system. Conversely, if you want to be a powerful mage with high DP or a dexterous long-range crossbow sniper that's possible too. Yohane the Parhelion has one of the most approachable crafting systems I've seen in a game yet, and it's easily one of its best elements.

Didn't Like: Little Post-Game Replayability

To my surprise, after clearing the game that was essentially it. There's no unlockable hard mode, no new game plus, no boss rush and no speed run. The only real incentive to load your save file back up again is to grind through the dungeon to unlock all 90-plus items. I would have gladly done so through a new game plus run, but asking me to spend hours grinding on my first run-through wasn't very enticing. As it stands, I had an excellent time playing the game to completion, but I wish there was something to keep me coming back for more. Heck, even an unlockable picture gallery or music player to listen to the game's superb music would have been nice. Alas, that's not the case.

The Verdict

Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue is an excellent Metroidvania-light game with pleasing visuals and rock-solid gameplay. Whether you're a fan of the Love Live! Sunshine universe or simply want to experience Inti Creates' next great action platformer, this game gets an easy recommendation.

Final Score: 8/10 - Great

Yohane the Parhelion: Blaze in the Deepblue details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Genre: Metroidvania, Action Platformer
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)

A key was provided by the publisher.