Shining Resonance Refrain is a game with two modes, which might leave some people wondering. What makes one so different? Which one is best to use? Why are there two? Well, the short answer is that it all has to do with DLC. In the Original mode, you play through the game as it first appeared on the PlayStation 3. With Refrain, you are playing the game with its Excella and Jinas add-ons immediately applied.
In a way, this means Refrain mode involves some spoilers. You get to see Jinas long before he first appears in the story. There are date events for both people. Commentary appears that offers small insights you might not be ready to handle. But, for those who have already played, these two act as a nice supplement. Both are capable warriors who work well in a party. The events of the game also paint each one in certain lights, which might make them more attractive to people as they go through Shining Resonance Refrain.
As warriors, both Excella and Jinas have some remarkable traits. Excella is a good character for dealing with groups, thanks to her Force abilities. Drive Thrust is fun, as it is a shockwave she comes with that hits any foe around her. Round Slicer, a physical attack she learns after a few levels, also hits enemies circling her. And, if you need to do some crowd control, then Fated Beckon uses gravity to pull foes to a single space. Combine those with the Flute of Gravity tuning, and she is super good.
Jinas is a character I like using against bosses or groups with smaller numbers of enemies. He’s super fast and quite a few of his attacks strike quickly and hit foes directly in his path. Right away, he has Senpu and Sakigake thet deal that sort of damage, and he eventually gets Goushou Zen that similarly attacks quickly, hits foes ahead of him, and leaves him safe. He can also take care of himself, with an eventual Meditation Force ability that increases his evasion and an Indestructible Body one that heals himself. He is good at hitting hard and fast, then staying alive.
Their date events also offer a chance to see sides of both characters hinted at throughout Shining Resonance Refrain. With Excella, there is a sense of concern. Spoilers aside, when talking to her you should try to be considerate, think of her and also suggest that you want to better yourself. It really helps you see how she might feel about her role as a person and princess. With Jinras, the key is to try and be optimistic and considerate of him and his needs. He has an image he seems to cultivate and has seen a lot in his time. Making headway in his events relies on building trust.
Now, you may be wondering if you should play Original mode first or Refrain mode. Shining Resonance Refrain does say up front that people should leave the second option for a subsequent playthrough. But I would offer some alternate advice. What I did was first go through about five hours of the game in Original mode. After I met Jinas, I decided it would be worth it, for me, to go ahead and restart with Refrain mode. The main differences are the ability to have Excella and Jinas from the start of the game as additional party members, are dating options and have Lone Swordsman and Noble Princess events. Nothing else really changes. The story proceeds as if they were still NPCs, but when you have dates with them, they comment on current in-game events. The immersion is broken, but having these two very good party members from the start is a definite perk.
Just remember one important thing. When going through Shining Resonance Refrain’s Refrain mode, you may get Sigil items from dating Excella and Jinas. (Excella’s is the Glass Slipper Sigil, while Jinas’ is the Full Moon Sigil.) Do not use these when going to Alfriede to add effects when entering a dungeon. If you get both of these items, hold onto them until earning both Excella and Jinas’ endings, then talk to Alfriede, you unlock the Wheel of Fortune achievement. Choosing which ending you will get is easy enough when the time comes, since you can romance everyone with no consequences and choose any one with hearts over their head at the absolute end to get their ending.
Shining Resonance Refrain uses its extra mode to offer an opportunity to spend time with more supplemental characters. In the original mode, Excella and Jinas are limited to appearances in the story. Refrain lets you have them from the very start. Considering their usefulness in battle and the date night moments they offer, people who find themselves enjoying their company might want to break immersion and start going through the extra mode even sooner.
Shining Resonance Refrain is available for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.