It’s a sign of the times that the PC debut of a JRPG series as venerable as Star Ocean isn’t met with enormous fanfare. We’re long past the days when Japanese publishers thought of the PC as a strange and distant frontier, and now we’re seeing more and more titles released in parallel with consoles.
It’s for that reason, perhaps, that PC gamers can now play Star Ocean: The Last Hope, fully remastered in ultra-HD. Part of Square Enix’s plans to fill in the blanks of the PS4 release calendar with a few games from the past generation, it seems to have spread to PC just as a matter of course. It’s just a shame they picked this particular Star Ocean to introduce PC gamers to the sci-fi/fantasy RPG series.
If The Last Hope has one thing really going for it, it’s the combat. Tri-Ace are a studio famous for their exciting and non-standard JRPG mechanics. In this case, it’s a blend of third-person hack n’ slash and squad tactics, encouraging you to switch control between multiple characters. One especially nice touch about this particular game is that it lets you switch out active party members for your bench-warmers at any point, even mid combat, meaning that a full wipe isn’t necessarily the end of a fight.
Sadly, good combat probably isn’t enough to carry the game. Star Ocean: The Last Hope was notorious even at the time for its awkward writing, leaden English voicework and some utterly cringeworthy scenes that somehow manage to combine every single awful anime trope imaginable and mash them into one horrifying nightmare blend. And I say this as a regular watcher of anime, Crunchyroll subscription and all.
Plus, the protagonist is named Edge Maverick. You just can’t make it up.
Still, even though their choice of game was weird (Resonance of Fate HD next, please – tri-Ace’s best, in my opinion), the high-definitionizing seems to have done the game good, with environments looking significantly improved, and combat gameplay feeling significantly nicer thanks to the faster loading into and out of the battle screen, as well as the upgrade to 60fps, as opposed to the wildly fluctuating performance of the original console release.
Still, my personal advice is that if you’re looking for an Extremely Anime JRPG to play with a real-time/action-oriented combat engine, you’re far better off wishlisting Tales of Berseria, the PC release of which seems to have flown oddly under the radar.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope is out on Steam now for £16/$20, minus a 10% launch discount