Entropic Crusader

Home of sci-fi and fantasy author, Benjamin Matthews

Coincidence is a funny thing. All the way back in 2017, before everything went to complete shit, I had a bit of a hankering for Tri-Ace’s flawed but still awesome Star Ocean: The Last Hope. At the same time, I really didn’t feel like setting up my PS3, which had been gathering dust in a cupboard for months ever since I finished my two play-throughs of Persona 5 in March of the same year.

Then, lo! As if in answer to my desires, Square-Enix (publishers of the game) brought the title to Steam in full 4K 60FPS glory, and at a good price, too (£16, compared to the insane prices they list their own games at). So is the game still good? Hell, yeah, which is why I’m writing this quick review.

As mentioned, the game now runs at a fairly solid 60FPS (on PS3 it’s 30FPS in the world, occasionally 60FPS in battles, but it struggles). The last time I played, the game had some severe framerate issues in places, most-especially the Purgatorium, where opening the doors and draining the pool in that location resulted in single-digit framerates. These issues have mostly been ironed out now, at least. Mostly.

There are also weird issues with resolution and the game not remembering what you picked when first loading it, or not choosing the correct one, or running in a one-quarter-sized window in the top left of the screen. They released a patch that supposedly addresses this, and I’ve not noticed the issue again myself, so fingers crossed those are also mostly fixed.

Beyond those couple of issues, though? Yeah, it’s a solid port overall. Good price (which shows where Square places their value; their own games are always massively overinflated, such as the £16 FF9 mobile port, which is actually the same price as this PS3-gen title), good performance, and the gameplay still holds up.

If you’ve not played it, Star Ocean: The Last Hope is a prequel to the original Star Ocean games, though that’s about as far as the relation goes, other than a few neat little nods and references you won’t notice and which have no major impact if you’ve not played the previous titles. There’s a heavy sci-fi emphasis, with Star Trek levels of techno-babble and many, many codex entries for you to sink your teeth into if lore is your thing.

You’ll be seeing a LOT of this area if you’re crazy enough to go for 100% completion.

But the main meat of the story is science-fantasy more akin to Star Wars than Star Trek. It’s a nice melding of that adventurous spirit in Star Wars (well… before Disney ruined it), while also maintaining the enormous encyclopaedic knowledge base in the codex for the Trek fans (those who remain after JarJar Abrams ruined it…) to enjoy. And you even get a nice Force equivalent in Symbology, this universe’s Space Magic.

The story is… well, it’s passable. It’s typical Japanese fare, with edgy teenagers (the main character’s name is Edge. This is not a joke) and drama / angst, but it’s really just there to propel you from one place to the next so you can enjoy the aspect of the game that people play these titles for: the gameplay.

Combat is fast-paced action-RPG fare, with basic combo attacks and special arts you learn and can improve as you go along. There’s a crafting system, of course, and you can both create new equipment / items and improve existing equips once you hit the appropriate point in the story. Despite being relatively simple, it’s an immensely fun game, mechanically speaking.

Audio-wise, the game still excels. Lots of great attacks and spells with meaty sound effects, the soundtrack is stellar (nothing unusual there, Star Ocean has always had great music), and overall ambient sound design is top notch.

If you’re not into melodramatic teenagers of the Japanese variety, the story might put you off, but honestly you can largely skip it if you wish. The gameplay is where it’s at, and is where the game truly shines. If you’re the kind of person who loves gameplay systems and enjoyable combat over story and characters? This game will most likely deliver a solid experience for you. If you like story and don’t mind the melodrama? You’ll also enjoy it.

All in all, it’s a good port and still a great game. Recommended.

Oh, and… if you’re an OCD-fuelled completionist? You might want to give this title a miss, as trying to finish all the battle trophies is a no-nonsense 400+ hour trial that will make you long for the sweet embrace of death. The battle trophies are important to a degree, as they open up a couple of new features once you have enough of them, but reaching 80-90% total completion is more than enough for that. The last ~10% is just torture, don’t put yourself through that.

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