Star Ocean is a series that is near and dear to me. I’ve been playing them since Star Ocean: Second Story on the PlayStation in 1998. I played the new games as they released, including the PSP remakes First Departure and Second Evolution. While I’ve been a bit disappointed with some of the new entries in the series, I always come back to Second Story for another playthrough. So when I heard that a remake was being developed for PC and modern consoles, I preordered it immediately. But how did it turn out?Read more: Star Ocean: The Second Story R
One thing that I’m always worried about with remakes is whether the developers will take what was otherwise a great experience and somehow ruin parts of it. Would they take the beloved sprite-based characters and replace them with poor 3D model renditions? Would newly-recorded voices replace the ones that we know and love? What about the music? Would new versions replace the nostalgic scores we know and love?
I went into the game and after a couple hours I was very happy with the quality of this remake. Quickly put: the sprites were still present, the voices were recorded with the original VAs, and the music sounds amazing.
Star Ocean: Second Story (whichever version you play) follows the story of either Claude or Rena. They each have their own motivations and abilities. While there are a couple scenes that are character-specific, for the most part there isn’t a difference in the way the game plays regardless of your choice. You’ll meet a plethora of interesting characters and your choices as to who you allow to adventure with you will determine who else joins you. Interactions between the characters is dependent on friendship levels between the characters in your team.
Gameplay is your classic RPG. Characters level and learn new abilities. You can equip weapons and armor to increase stats. There’s a crafting and customization system for gear and usable items. Fighting is done in a fast-paced style where you control one character and the others will function generally independently based on how you instruct them or you can offer specific commands for the entire team, but it is not a turn-based game. So while you’re entering commands for your team, enemies will be moving and attacking on their own.
Players who have played mostly modern games might have some issue with the art style in the first and second Star Ocean games. The world is fully 3D rendered, but characters and enemies are portrayed with 2D sprites. It’s been a while since I last played the PSX or PSP versions, but the spell and attack effects seem to be upgraded in this new remake as well.
Whether you’re a fan of Star Ocean or just looking for a fast-paced RPG experience to blast through that has a lot more depth than it originally lets on, I firmly recommend Star Ocean: The Second Story R.