First of all, this game is an adult eroge featuring multiple heavy NSFW sprites and CGs. For those who don't mind adult games, read on.
Mirror is a Match-3 RPG style strategy game that carries the story through the use of visual novel elements. Artwork is done by KAGAMI WORKs and Paradise Project which features 8 different short stories that are viewed through a magic mirror. Starting with the dark elf Daisy, a different monster or character will fight the specific female character through the end of each story arc. The magic mirror will reveal more female characters after reaching the end of each story arc. The story revolves around the following characters: Daisy: A dark elf who steals from the rich to give to the poor. Yoko: An archer and priestess of a shrine in Kyoto who defends the city from monsters. Cai Yun: A Chinese zombie who lies sealed inside a cave and awaits the return of the next reincarnation of her former lover and fellow disciple. Lin: An ice dragon who serves a family of dragon knights as the family's maid. Unita: An orc she-warrior who has to hunt and slay a ferocious monster to be recognized as a warrior in her tribe. Ketsuno Ana: A shogun girl from ancient Japan who somehow ended up at a modern Comicon (anime exhibition for otakus) and was mistaken for a cosplayer. Ebony (Augie Terry): A queen of the Empire of Yellow Sand with grand ambitions to attain divinity at all costs. Martha: A nun who works at a convent to distribute food to the needy and spreading god's message. In the Lost Shards DLC, there are an additional 4 short stories that are viewed through the magic mirror. The additional stories revolve around these characters: Leah and Koichi: A schoolgirl who is bullied at school and faces sexual assaults by several characters while her classmate Koichi has a crush on her. Madoka and Ryujo: A childlike girl who recently moved into a new town with her brother Ryujo she simply calls nii. Mafercca Rossi and Arroyo Ashe: A succubus alchemist who will go to great lengths to experiment with many different potions, and on her new test subject Arroyo Ashe who is afflicted with a demon curse. Hill and Ronald: A slave animal girl who is constantly being traded and abused under different masters while a mercenary Ronald has taking a liking to her and is prepared to redeem her. Having spent 21 hours to reach all endings and obtain all achievements in this game, I can say that the storyline in this game can be very controversial with multiple instances of BDSM, sexual assault, and physical torture. Here is where I will mention a warning to all readers that if these controversial themes feel uncomfortable, look elsewhere, otherwise read on. Plot and character backgrounds Despite the controversial, dark, and adult subject matter among the short stories in this game, I would still praise the scriptwriter for having the imagination to come up with eight different short stories that are different from the usual fare in a fantasy or romance story. They do this by combining both genres to tell 8 different stories of lost romance where 8 different characters or monsters might feel compelled to punish, excite, or fight each girl. These all lead to different routes; a pain route, a pleasure route, and a combat route across 3 different Match-3 stages.
Although most of them have selfish and unsavory motives on each girl, they also have an additional layer of complexity to describe and spur that motivation. A few of the characters are more wholesome yet they are forced due to circumstances to act in that way which also adds to the complexity of such a romance. This results in excellent storytelling which not many short stories have.
After patch updates in November 2017 and September 2018, the game has fewer errors in the English version. In the Lost Shards DLC, each short story has a few scenes and dialogue before each Match-3 battle and the male lead character in each story arc has more depth in their character and complexity and a bigger role now. Also, there is a short cameo appearance of three lookalikes who resemble the three heroines from Paradise Project's earlier title Hell Girls.
The artwork in this game is excellent by being attractive and colourful. The CGs use a large variety of different colours while each female character has animated sprites with different facial expressions and blinking eyes as the player does battle with them during the Match-3 and Tame segments of the game. The opening theme will show various CGs, background scenes, the cast of characters, and character voice list with great animation throughout. The game also has great artwork in the game cover, Steam achievement icons, badges, emoticons, and profile backgrounds. For those who prefer to uncensor the game and remove the flowers and SakuraGame rabbit in the Steam version of this game, a patch for this game is available by searching through the game's discussion boards, some of the reviews, or from certain Steam groups.
There are also more non-H CGs that are top-notch in the Lost Shards and Enchanting Reflections DLC. The Cosplay DLC has an additional 240 photos of female cosplayers featuring all 12 girls in the game. The Enchanting Reflections DLC features an additional 48 non-H CGs with 4 CGs of each character in the game.
Voice acting and background music
Having voice acting by a different voice actress for each female character in both the visual novel and Match-3 segment of this game serve to highlight and make this game more interesting. The background music (BGM) are great by matching the setting of the game and the character personality of each Match-3 opponent. My favourite soundtrack in this game is Lost Romance which begins by being pleasant and stirring during the chorus. Although this BGM is played throughout in the game's title screen, menu options, and visual novel segments, it remains as one of my personal favourite soundtracks and I still listen to it despite playing the game for 21 hours. The oriental BGM for Yoko's and Cai Yun's stages, the stirring BGM for Daisy's stages, and the song with vocals Magic Mirror that is in the opening theme and soundtrack DLC are also among my favourite soundtracks in this game. The Songs of the Maidens DLC features a total of 12 different Japanese songs with vocals, a medley of it and the instrumental versions of all 13 songs which are pleasant and stirring and is a steal at a fraction of the cost of most soundtrack DLCs or CD albums.
Opening theme on YouTube by Nursery Game Casting
BGM Lost Romance on YouTube by TheDrakim
The Match-3 gameplay is the main highlight of this game although if this game was a pure visual novel, I also wouldn't mind paying 2-4 dollars for the 12 short stories alone. As a Match-3 strategy game where the player has to reduce the opponent's health to zero, the game rewards players who build longer chains to deal more damage to an opponent, gain more health or rage, or to create a super gem that can create a very large special effect depending on chosen skill which awards more money at the end of the match. Each opponent has a different set of strengths and special abilities where some may need certain skills and items to counter their strengths and special moves. Each girl will also have Japanese voiced dialogue whenever they use a special ability, take damage, have their clothes torn or broken, and also when they win/lose at the end of the stage.
Initial gameplay video on YouTube by AllGamesWorldHd
Initial gameplay video of Lost Shards DLC on YouTube by Iczel Gaming
The achievements are more or less reasonable where although there are a few achievements that rely on luck, most of them can be obtained after a number of attempts. For those who are looking for a more challenging set of Match-3 stages, the game also has an unlockable challenge mode that is available after reaching an ending with Martha as the final female character. This mode is entirely optional and is something like an ironman mode where the player will have to make decisions on which skills and items to equip, adjust skills accordingly, and earn hearts to purchase a replacement items. The player is assigned a rank score at the end of the game. All these help to make the game fun and replayable without being too difficult or excessively grindy. With the Lost Shards DLC, each stage in the DLC is also tougher and more challenging as they are meant for experienced players who have purchased most of the items and skills by the time they finish the main game. The Tame segment gameplay is the most controversial part of this game with heavy NSFW content which could make players uncomfortable as it involves choosing which body part or item to apply to certain parts on the captured girl's body (and moving the mouse slowly or quickly in the Lost Shards DLC). I feel this game wouldn't have raised as much controversy without this segment, which doesn't add anything much to the game other than adult content and those who want to get all achievements have to refer to published community guides or experiment with different combinations in this adult segment. Overall, this Match-3 strategy game with up to 12 different short stories is highly recommended for its Match-3 gameplay,fantasy visual novel segment that has a compelling storyline containing many interesting and unexpected plot twist and turns, and the large variety of characters with different personalities. It also has great artwork, animation, voice acting, and background music to enhance the mood and immersion of this game to make it stand out as a visual novel and strategy game. If you don't mind the heavy NSFW content and controversial content in this adult game, it is highly recommended to get this game with the soundtrack and Lost Shards DLC. For those who enjoy and appreciate great anime artwork and music, it is highly recommended to get the entire Mirror bundle as the developer seems to know how to make the entire franchise very appealing with top-notch artwork and musical accompaniment while also making the price very affordable. This game has received many patch updates to address gameplay technical issues, script and translation errors, and additional language options. As such, this game has more than 21,500 positive reviews at the time of this review.
I have nominated this game for the Labor of Love award in 2018.