tl;dr: Don’t spend money on this horrid mess of a game, just don’t. Use that money to take your significant other somewhere solid, use it to get your mom or significant other a decent massage on groupon, buy groceries, buy computer parts, buy some good wine, just don’t spend it on this game.
Now, I’m a die hard Star Ocean fan and I mean DIEHARD! I’ve been playing the games in this series ever since a friend of mine put me on them back in 8th grade. I played through Star Ocean: The Second Story on the PS1 and got hooked. I eventually played the very first game on the SNES when it got a fan translation. A few years later, I’d spend stupid amounts of time in my basement playing the shit out of Star Ocean: Til The End of Time. Years later in college, Star Ocean: Last Hope was ported to the PS4 and I of course enjoyed the shit out of that one too. I’ve yet to play the GBC spin off because that doesn’t have a fan translation just yet.
Every Star Ocean game I’ve played has had its share of flaws but, the games for the most part remain solid and some being fantastic. This game however is the worse in the series. I powered through this game because I owe it to myself as a fan of the series but, at times it was somewhat unbearable. You ever go on a blind date or even an online one and the person you meet isn’t up to your standards but, you’re not a dick so you just gotta grit your teeth and endure it? This game was the online dating meet up I wish had never happened.
I was super thrilled last year when they announced this game and the E3 footage seemed promising. The game came out in Japan last Spring and then the import reviews came along. People ripped this game to shreds and I got nervous. I then played the game at PAX at the Square Enix booth and my worse fears were realized. All the awesome battle system innovations of Star Ocean: Last Hope were gone and replaced with a stripped down lesser version of Star Ocean: Til The End of Time’s battle system. Combat was very bland and repetitive. The game came out last June and I put off on buying it because I couldn’t drop $60 on something I felt I’d hate. The only reason I have this game now is because I got a gift card from a family friend for fixing their computer. I don’t feel entirely cheated out of my money but, I’m extremely disappointed in how this game came out, here are some of my major problems,
1. The cutscenes are in the style of ones from FPS games meaning they happen as the action goes on and you’re moving. These cut scenes lack immersion and I never truly felt pulled into the story. There are very few traditional cut scenes and even those don’t do much justice.
2. There’s barely any character development in this damn game. I felt almost no connection to any of the characters as this story progressed. There are a few moments that pull the heart strings but, I never felt too emotionally invested in any of the characters. I think I only like one character the whole game and that’s a problem.
3. Some of the female costumes are your typical scantily clad spell caster affair. I’m not offended or anything, it just seems extremely unoriginal these days.
4. Everything about this is a step back in gaming. Tri Ace sadly doesn’t realize that JRPGs have drastically evolved over the years to appeal to Western play styles. I have no problem with the linearity, my beef is that not everyone wants to have to goback to a save point EVERY FUCKING TIME I DIE which will happen a lot, not because you’re under leveled but, because of some utter bullshit. Cutscenes are unskipable so if you die at a boss, unlike the Tales games or later Final Fantasy games that let you retry your last encounter, you’ve gotta watch the whole damn cut scene over and over again. What the fuck is this 1997?
5. There’s no fast travel between towns you’ve visited and there is a ton of really unnecessary back tracking. I’d say a good 3-5 hours of gameplay consists of meaningless back tracking through the same long ass winding paths. Eventually you do get a means of fast travel and even that is pretty cumbersome.
6. This game’s story will only last you 20 hours which is pretty unacceptable by today’s standards. There are sidequests that will keep you busy but, those sidequests are your typical itemfetch/kill this monster quests. The first two Star Ocean games clocked in around 15-25 hours but then the third and fourth games had campaigns lasting 40-50 hours and those kept me busy for a while, even when binging through the game in massive chunks.
7. To add insult to injury, a lot of abilities you were able to gain through leveling or through store purchases are buried in some of those side quests. Want to lock pick a chest? gotta do a really annoying tree of monster kill quests to get that ability. Wannasee enemies on the map? a fairly standard feature that existed in the last two games are, you guessed it, in a bunch of pointless quests that do nothing to add to the lore or explain the world.
8. This story is a huge mess. At one point it seemed like it was going somewhere good but then it jumps around and throws shit at you. This story is also very bad at explaining things. I was told my country was at war but, it never told me why. Also, you have characters throwing around terms that only a diehard Star Ocean fan would get and at no point do any of the characters ask questions, they mindlessly trust strangers from another planet to some degree and as a Star Ocean fan, that’s the furthest thing from believable. The Ted Wells Report is more believable than the characters in this universe, OJ Simpson is more believable than the characters in this universe. This game also tries way too hard to be some of the older Star Ocean games and falls on its face miserably.
9. The music is solid but, a 1/5 of the soundtrack is music reused from older games which is sad, because the new and original music is fantastic. Were you lazy Motoi Sakuraba or did they not give you the budget they needed to make newer tunes? I’ll go with the latter because Square Enix is known for that sort of bullshit.
10. Seven characters at once in battle is good and fun, until you realize that the camera is a piece of shit, that and the AI sucks!
11. You’d think that since you’re managing seven characters instead of four that Tri Ace would remove that ridiculous 20 item limit but nope, let’s keep that shit and watch you burn through your revives.
This game is a mess. It has some good things going for it and it looked very promising but, this game is an absolute mess and compared to the other games in the series, it’s incredibly mediocre.
Final Score 5/10
If you truly want to play this game then wait until it ends up in a bargain bin, the price has already dropped to $29.99 new at Game Stop. If you’re dying for a JRPG, I am Setsuna is $39.99 and much better than this game. Final Fantasy XV is way worth your time than this steaming pile of crap.
Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90’s.