The Star Ocean franchise has been an underappreciated one throughout the Japanese RPG style. Regardless of being round for greater than 25 years, it is by no means had the breakout success that elevated it to new heights, as one thing like Persona or Tales have had in more moderen years. Many longtime followers contemplate 1999’s Star Ocean: The Second Story to be the perfect entry, and now Sq. Enix has remade it for contemporary consoles. Star Ocean: The Second Story R is a remake that manages to not solely have the retro really feel of its older PS1 and PSP incarnations, but in addition make it really feel contemporary with new battle mechanics, in addition to audio and visuals updates. It might not be the large break that’ll lastly make the Star Ocean franchise explode in reputation, nevertheless it’s a nice Japanese RPG by itself phrases.
The Second Story’s plot follows an lively younger man named Claude C. Kenny and a caring younger lady named Rena Lanford. After disobeying his father’s orders and touching a malfunctioning piece of teleportation tools, Claude by chance lands on a backwater planet referred to as Expel, runs into Rena, and has to guard her from a monster. These two characters are the core focus of the story, and their respective motivations and conditions make for excellent plot drivers. In an effort to discover a approach to return residence, Claude agrees with the native village to research the Sorcery Globe, a mysterious meteor-like object that crashed into Expel, inflicting the encompassing space to be infested with monsters. As he’s from a technologically superior society, he thinks that the item might present clues on get off of Expel. Rena, in the meantime, is an orphan and hopes to uncover extra of her personal previous, as she is the one particular person on Expel to be blessed with pure therapeutic powers.
Whereas its story is not as complicated as extra fashionable Japanese RPGs equivalent to Xenoblade Chronicles 3, its simplicity permits character relationships to shine. The juxtaposition between Claude’s technological upbringing, the place flying in spaceships was an on a regular basis occurance, and Rena’s extra medieval background makes for an fascinating dynamic between the 2 and the world round them–the villagers mistake him as some type of prophetic determine as a result of he takes the native monster down with a laser gun, which the villagers suppose is a few type of “sword of sunshine” straight out of a fantasy novel.
Star Ocean: The Second Story has a complete of 12 playable characters, together with Claude and Rena. Of those, eight could be recruited in a single playthrough. As a result of variable nature of your last occasion, that signifies that most of the characters haven’t got direct involvement with the plot. Nevertheless, that is made up for with Personal Actions, that are aspect conversations Claude and Rena can have with these characters all through the sport’s many cities. These add plenty of allure and are ample since they alter relying in your occasion composition. For instance, having the younger engineer, Summary F. Neumann, and the merchandise inventor, Welch Winery, recruited in the identical occasion unlocks a dialog the place Welch learns a brand new assault ability to make use of in battle. The sheer variety of potential occasion combos provides to the immense replayability of the sport. It additionally provides some worth to characters that in any other case really feel like bit components in the principle narrative.
The battle system retains its real-time action-based fight and as much as 4 occasion members could be on display screen at a time. It’s much like Last Fantasy XVI in that you simply management one character in real-time with fundamental assaults and particular expertise whereas your different companions are managed by the AI. The fights are thrilling and dynamic, with particle results flying as swords repeatedly conflict with armor and magical spells conjure blades of wind and tsunamis to envelope the battlefield. Whether or not it is Claude chucking fireballs out of his sword or Rena summoning large stone orbs out of the sky, there’s not a uninteresting second throughout any battle.
Although this remake nonetheless has its unique battle system, good modifications had been added to make it really feel extra fashionable. There are two new mechanics referred to as the Break and Assault Motion methods. Every enemy has a defend that dampens the harm you deal, and so it is crucial that you simply use expertise that prioritize breaking defenses relatively than inflicting HP harm. As soon as the defend is damaged, enemies are briefly immobilized and you’ll wail on them. This technique incentivizes you to change up your assaults and retains the method diversified, like Tales of Come up.
The Assault Motion system takes characters in a roundabout way collaborating in battle and permits you to summon them to unleash help assaults. It is a improbable approach to embrace inactive characters in a fashion that makes them really feel like they’re nonetheless contributing to fights. Moreover, by finishing aspect quests, you’ll be able to typically earn the flexibility to summon characters from different Star Ocean video games, equivalent to Laeticia from Star Ocean 6: The Divine Power and Edge from Star Ocean 4: The Final Hope. As a very long time fan of this collection, this mechanic was a wonderful approach to make the most of nostalgia with out feeling low-cost. Whereas calling on cameo characters appears unusual from a story standpoint, they’re utterly non-obligatory and you’ll select to solely summon characters from Second Story.
As you defeat enemies, you acquire orbs to construct up your Bonus GaugeBattle Bonus meter to grant passive bonuses, like elevated assault energy or extra expertise after battle, which helps maintain you engaged from battle to battle. This mechanic was launched within the third sport within the collection, Star Ocean: Until the Finish of Time. Whereas it’s not a brand new mechanic to the collection general, it’s the primary time Second Story has it, which is a welcome addition that makes this remake really feel extra in keeping with later entries.
Regardless of the thrilling battle system, it’s held again by a flimsy dodge mechanic. Enemies glow pink to point an incoming highly effective assault. In the event you appropriately time your dodge, you may zip behind the enemy and restore a few of your MP, permitting you to unleash extra expertise. However the timing wanted to tug off a profitable dodge feels off and the window is not beneficiant sufficient. Flubbing your dodge has disastrous penalties as not solely does it depart you large open to be massacred for a couple of seconds, it additionally resets your Bonus Gauge. The cons vastly outweigh the professionals and I made a decision to only tank incoming hits from enemies as a substitute of dodging. I might at all times heal my HP with an merchandise, so it merely wasn’t price probably being ganged up on and dying whereas additionally shedding my Bonus Gauge.
After a battle, battle factors earned by characters could be distributed into stats, battle expertise, and talents to make them stronger. You’ll be able to select to concentrate on growing Claude’s general attacking energy, or degree up a sure battle ability in order that it unleashes further hits. For instance, I maxed out Claude’s Sword Bomber ability, which elevated the general harm and variety of fireballs launched. It’s a good way to tailor your individual playstyle as I centered on Claude’s crowd management tactics–leveling up Sword Bomber effortlessly let me wipe out a number of enemies without delay.
One other staple mechanic of the collection, Merchandise Creation, is again. It is a comparatively easy idea the place you’ll be able to mix completely different elements to create quite a lot of weapons, gadgets, and equipment. It is not crucial to grasp Merchandise Creation throughout a standard playthrough, however on greater difficulties and post-game content material, it is positively helpful. With the ability to forge stronger tools and create particular setups for more durable battles goes a good distance. It provides a whole new dimension to gameplay as I used to be capable of engineer bombs that would momentarily stun bosses and stop them utilizing their strongest assaults. There have been additionally situations throughout battle the place I wanted stronger therapeutic, so among the potions I made recovered as much as 100% HP. These greater tier gadgets weren’t usually present in common outlets, so it is an incredible incentive to tinker round with Merchandise Creation and uncover new recipes and formulation.
Sq. Enix teamed up with GemDrops, which additionally developed Cogen: Sword of Rewind and Crystar, for Second Story R. The remake follows the pattern of Sq. Enix’s 2.5D graphical video games, that are characterised by their 2D pixel artwork character sprites with retro-styled 3D environments and motion. These video games embrace Octopath Traveler 1 and a couple of, Triangle Technique, and the Stay a Stay remake. Nevertheless, Second Story R takes this artwork model a step additional by holding the 2D pixel artwork character sprites however utilizing absolutely fashionable 3D environments and buildings. The backgrounds, foliage, and lighting look wonderful to the purpose that it really seems to be just like the 2D characters are a bit misplaced. It feels as if extra polygonal character fashions like within the unique Last Fantasy VII can be extra applicable.
This remake additionally contains full English and Japanese voice appearing, and that provides to the general status of this remake. The standard of voice appearing has come an unlimited method for the reason that early to late 2000s, and Second Story R’s new voice forged is lightyears forward of its earlier iterations. The voices have far more vary and emotion than ever earlier than.
Moreover, Motoi Sakuraba’s newly organized soundtrack for this sport sounds immaculate. The franchise’s battle themes are grandiose with their attractive strings blended with electrifying guitars, making them distinctly “Star Ocean.” Second Story R’s battle theme, “Stab the Sword of Justice,” would not disappoint. The newly drawn 2D character artwork within the menu is unbelievable, too; the traces and colours look sharp and crisp. In the event you’re feeling further nostalgic, you’ll be able to change between the brand new character artwork and the older ones from the PSP and PS1 days and have them displayed within the menu. This can be a good visible indicator of how a lot effort and care Sq. Enix and GemDrops put into this specific remake.
One other power of Star Ocean: The Second Story R is its replayability. New Sport Plus permits you to expertise the story once more, however has different perks equivalent to carrying over your ranges and tools. As a result of variability of your last occasion, there are 99 completely different character endings relying on the connection degree between the characters in your occasion and what number of Personal Actions you’ve got seen. There are endings for every single character, in addition to endings for every potential pair. Because you solely have a complete of eight occasion slots with 12 twelve potential characters, a number of playthroughs are wanted to unlock each single one since completely different last occasion compositions are wanted.
Attempting to view all of those all through a number of playthroughs is not for the faint of coronary heart. Moreover, you do not even have to instantly get began on New Sport Plus upon finishing the sport, both. The franchise’s signature post-game dungeon, Maze of Tribulations, returns and cooks up a beefy problem for gamers who wish to tackle the toughest fights the sport has to supply.
Star Ocean: The Second Story R strikes an excellent steadiness between staying devoted to the unique sport and updating it for contemporary instances. The revamped artwork model and music make it extra aesthetically pleasing whereas the usage of 2D pixel character fashions provides a sure nostalgic allure. The battle system did not want a whole overhaul and the builders neatly added new options to make it really feel extra dynamic–the fights really feel exhilarating and enjoyable. Second Story R is jam-packed with content material that may final any Japanese RPG fan satiated for hours on finish.