By Jenae R / December 19th, 2017
|Title||Star Ocean: The Last Hope|
|Release Date||November 28. 2017|
Square Enix recently ported Star Ocean: The Last Hope to PS4 and PC, all new remastered graphics and settings options included. It’s a remaster of the already enhanced PS3 port titled International. What’s that? You heard Star Ocean: The Last Hope was a trash game not worth your time? Perhaps you even read this original review found right here at oprainfall (be warned, it contains subtle spoilers). Well, throw out any preconceived notions you have of how rotten SO4 supposedly is because it’s not. This is a wonderful game with wonderful characters and an entertaining story for any everyday JRPG fan—one who isn’t sitting through a game taking notes, looking for any plot hole or fault they can find. Make sure you’re settled in and comfy while I enlighten you (hopefully a lover of JRPGs), and let you know what makes this title worth your time.
First off, let’s get the plot out of the way. Because what’s a review, or any game for that matter, without a plot? In The Last Hope, Earth is no longer an ideal place to live. The SRF (also known as the Space Reconnaissance Force) are charged with finding a new home for the humans of Earth to live upon. Five different SRF spaceships and their crews take on this mission. The main characters, Edge and Reimi, gladly volunteer to go along. You’ll be taking their ship, the SRF-003 Calnus, to quite a few different planets and places. This is essentially somewhat of a home base. You can rest to heal up, save, craft new items courtesy of Welch Vineyard (once again your NPC host at the crafting station, much like she was in SO3) and get to know your party members better through private action story bits at various points in the game. Speaking of characters, if you listen to others you might think this game has garbage voice acting. Now don’t get me wrong, you won’t find Atlus-hired Persona quality voice acting in this game. What you will find is decent enough voice acting which fits the characters perfectly. If you read through the game menu’s dictionary entries, perhaps you’ll even find out some characters are voice acted a certain way on purpose, ‘kay? Oh, you find average English voice acting unbearable? In that case they’ve got you covered, the original Japanese dub is once again back as an available option.
The gameplay in Star Ocean: The Last Hope is positively glorious. No longer are you stuck with the technical combat from SO3, nor the regular attack combo limiters. Instead you get non-stop repeatable combos, no need to quit slicing away and wait for a meter to fill up. And with the right skill book acquired, you can even chain your special skills together for non-stop destruction of your opponents. If you find yourself in a pinch, make for a quick dodge and/or blindside to once again gain the upper hand. Battles no longer feel like the pain in the neck chore from past entries. I never found myself running from battles more often than fighting it out. In fact, my battles fled from stat was below 10 in the end and I fought a good few thousand enemies in my 50 hour playthrough. You can view your game/save file statistics after crafting a memory plate item to place on your ship.
Oh and did I forget to mention the standard Star Ocean difficulty spike this time around isn’t nearly as impossible? You won’t be stuck for an extra 20 hours using a guide to find how to craft the perfect items, nor grinding forever. This time around it only took me an extra two or three hours to get past the well known late game SO difficulty spike. It helped that in this entry your bonus gauge (various bonuses from finishing off enemies with criticals, specials, etc.) won’t shatter completely when hit too many times or after fleeing from battle. Nope, now you merely lose a few jewel shaped pieces out of the meter, and the complete thing refuses to shatter all at once. Once you get past the difficulty spike, you’re even rewarded with Arumat, the strongest and best character The Last Hope contains. He’ll wipe the floor with any obstacle you come across, no problem. But if you actually want your Star Ocean game to continually murder you late game and not let up, then I highly recommend you ignore Arumat, leaving him among your inactive characters. It’s such a shame you get him so late though, and he could use his own spin-off game. Perhaps something that takes place during his past, which they refer to in his dictionary entry.
One thing our original review here at oprainfall has actually gotten right is the fact that the music in SO4 is really nothing special. Motoi Sakuraba has an extremely bad habit of making both series he mainly works on (Star Ocean and Tales Of) sound super similar across all of their entries. By that I mean all Star Ocean games have similarly average soundtracks, and the same goes for Tales Of games. They don’t have many that stand out among them musically. The Last Hope in particular doesn’t sound all that different from Till the End of Time (aka SO3). The music isn’t bad, it’s just nothing special and some of it even sounds like SO3 remixes. Fortunately, there are at least a couple songs I like for the most part, such as the one I’ve featured down below. Finally, the only thing left to discuss are the graphics of this title. Graphically Star Ocean: The Last Hope looks pretty great. It’s sort of similarly styled to Final Fantasy XV. Okay it’s not quite as good, calm down, but it’s at least up to par with a standard PS4 game. I feel they did a good job of upgrading the game’s graphics, even going so far as to add new settings for you to fiddle with. The new settings include stuff like anti-aliasing, camera blur, shadow details, resolution, etc. Let me put it this way: it doesn’t look like the now eight year old game that it is.
After putting 50 hours into this game, from start to final boss, I’ve quite enjoyed myself. It’s not even close to the decaying carcass others would have you believe. No, it’s not the best game I’ve ever played and I won’t be rating it as such. Nonetheless, I found it exciting, fun to play, and had no problem playing it as much as possible until I was done. I did run into two glitches, one where my save screen froze mid-save with the game time clock still counting up (except when I reset I found it had actually miraculously saved). And the second glitch happened when I was in the credits and went back to my PS4 menu for a bit, since I was temporarily distracted. I eventually came back, once again entered the game and the credits were then completely silent, no more music. Aside from those two things I didn’t find much wrong with this game. If you find yourself often kept up at night, appalled by “sexualized female animations,” then I wouldn’t drop the cash on this one. But if you’re a JRPG lover and not a super critical one who hunts for anything wrong you can possibly complain about, then look no further, this game is for you. I can guarantee you’re in for a fun time, and it was well worth the money I spent. Enjoy!
Review copy purchased by author
PCPS4SO4Square EnixStar OceanStar Ocean: The Last Hopetri-Ace