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Monday, September 18, 2023

Star Ocean: The Second Story R (2023) (Demo)

It's admittedly been many years since I played a Star Ocean game, but I did spend enough time on Star Ocean 2 back in the day to vividly remember why I didn't like it some 20 years later.  But with the series having something of a resurgence of late with a successful sixth entry and now a remake of its second in development, I figured it was time to give it another chance; especially as they made a demo available for anyone to try out.  All that said, it's hard to know how to feel about this remake. The writing is just as crap as I remember it, but they have substantially improved the graphics; it retains 2D pixelated sprites on 3D backdrops, resembling other HD-2D Square Enix efforts of late, though thankfully without the excessive blurring and bloom effects that made others such an eyesore.  The combat feels a lot tighter-controlling and far less buggy (and dare I say, even kinda fun), and the voice acting is actually surprisingly good - the actors are honestly giving their all to every line of this Kindergarten-play-level script.  They even appear to have streamlined the skill system considerably and given them more concise descriptions, doing away with a lot of the unnecessary fluff present in the original version.  But despite all these improvements, it's still Star Ocean 2 - substantially improved gameplay, graphics and voiceover combine with what would have been the worst RPG script of all time if someone hadn't unleashed Lightning Returns upon an unsuspecting populace.  I suppose if you can look past the irritating tweeness and fan-fictiony plotting to just enjoy a game with a heavy focus on character building, item crafting and some hidden powergaming strategies buried in all that, go for it.

Developer: Gemdrops
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: 2023
Platforms: Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, PC