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Star Ocean: The Second Story R Review (PS5) – A Blueprint On How To Remake A Classic RPG

Star Ocean: The Second Story R PS5 Review – Star Ocean: The Second Story is still considered by critics and fans alike to be the best game in the franchise. Though the Star Ocean series has had plenty of sequels, none of them have matched the storytelling, characterizations, and combat of Second Story. Now, with the release of Second Story R, Square Enix has the perfect blueprint on how to remake their classic RPGs without having to redesign everything as they did with Final Fantasy VII: Remake.

Star Ocean: The Second Story R PS5 Review

A Great Return For A Classic RPG

Star Ocean is a futurist sci-fi fantasy that sees members of advanced civilizations accidentally making contact with primitive planets and helping them save their world.

Second Story tells the story of Rena and Claude as they team up to stop the destruction of Rena’s planet. You can choose which of the two characters you begin the game with, but the difference in their story isn’t significant. The only changes between the two are how the story starts and what characters you can recruit into your party.

Claude himself is from Earth, now considered an advanced civilization. While exploring another planet, Claude is transported to Rena’s world, where he saves her life. While trying to find a way back home, he gets enveloped in a world-ending crisis that he vows to prevent with his newfound friends.

Recruiting The Right Party Members For Your Playstyle Is Key

You’ll not only make friends with people from Rena’s planet but others who have managed to land on the planet from vast parts of the universe. This time, all mainline dialogue is fully voiced, bringing the characters to life. The same voiceovers are provided in the PlayStation Portable remake: Second Evolution.

Much like the original, you’re party consists of characters you want to recruit. There are thirteen recruitable party members, but you can only acquire eight. Claude and Rena will always be at our party. The other six are for you to decide. As I mentioned, depending on who you started the game with, some characters won’t join your party. Dias, for example, will only join your party if you start the game as Rena.

Other restrictions come in who you acquire. Acquiring some characters will lock out different characters. Though I enjoyed this part of the game as it forced you to play through multiple times to experience all the characters, the problem is you don’t know when or what characters are locked out later on.

It may come to the point where you may refuse to recruit a party member and realize your chance of having a complete party is gone.

Phenomenal 3D World Thats Fun To Explore And Gorgeous To Look At

Star Ocean: Second Story R is my choice for how classic RPGs should be remade. Instead of remaking everything about the game entirely, developer Gemdrops has chosen a visual and quality-of-life upgrade. The game world is now fully 3D and looks stunning in motion. The world map is full of vegetation, and enemies are no longer random encounters and appear on the map and in dungeons.

Some quality-of-life upgrades allow you to find Private Actions on the game’s map. Private Actions will enable you to interact with your party members and get personal story details about them. This is always a way to recruit some party members. This function is great because before, you were forced to run around every nook and cranny of a town and speak to every NPC to find these actions.

You can also fast-travel to any location you’ve already visited. This doesn’t just include towns but also dungeons and the save point checkpoints found in dungeons. Another addition is a brand new collection quest that’s linked to the brand new fishing introduced in Second Story R.

The fantastic 2D sprites of the characters complement the visual upgrade. The animations not only stand up in this day and age, but they are excellent, especially in combat.

Combat Remains A Great Staple Of The Franchise

Combat has remained chiefly unchanged. It has gotten all new particle effects and attack effects. Many of these are fantastic, but they shine with the big spells that play out like cutscenes. The action-based combat may seem button-mashing heavy, but deep down lies a strategic combat system that forces you to learn how to dodge attacks and move around the battlefield.

There are plenty of enemies that can wipe out your party in seconds if you aren’t careful. I can honestly say that even playing on the easiest difficulty, I found myself at the game over screen on many occasions.

One addition to combat is that now you can earn Specialty Points and Battle Points from every encounter. Initially, you only made these points by levelling up from battles. Now, it is a lot easier to max out your favorite specialties and battle skills.

Every Mechanic Rewards You For Your Investment

One of the staples of the Star Ocean franchise is the Specialty System, which allows you to earn points and put them in various specialties such as cooking, Alchemy, Smithing, Painting, and many more. These specialists not only provide stat boosts to characters but allow them to create various objects, weapons, food, or even skills like pickpocketing.

It’s a fun system that rewards you with everything that you do. You may ask yourself what’s the point of learning art and writing skills, but it’s all part of a more extensive system. You can write books and then sell them to a publicist who will make copies and sell your books. You can make sheets of music and instruments to play various songs throughout the game.

Battle Skills, on the other hand, allow you to increase your chances of surviving in combat. You can increase your spell-casting time to be faster. You are not being interrupted when casting spells and teleporting behind enemies to gain a quick advantage. You can also use Battle Skills to level up the various skills and abilities that your party acquires.

Lacklustre Music Arrangement Is Accompanied By Fantastic Art Design

The music has gotten a rearrangement, but it is not one of the game’s strong points. Even though it has received an upgrade, there aren’t many memorable tracks. The voice acting isn’t the best either, but it keeps the story’s pace moving nicely all the same.

The visuals meanwhile are stunning, and the 3D environments come to life in vibrant quality. The new character portraits are also the best the franchise has received to date; Yukihiro Kajimoto has brought his fantastic character art to the remake while keeping the character’s designs as close to the original as possible.

I can’t speak more highly of Star Ocean: Second Story R. It is quite possible the blueprint for Square Enix and many others to look at their classic RPGs and find a way to remake them in the same style. After all, not everything needs a Final Fantasy VII Remake-style makeover. This is the perfect example of how to bring a classic title to a modern era of gamers. Star Ocean: The Second Story may have originally released back in 1999, but this remake stands out as one of the highlight RPGs of 2023.

Star Ocean: Second Story R releases on November 2, 2023, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Review code kindly provided by PR.



The Final Word

Star Ocean: Second Story R takes what made the original so great and, instead of reworking it, went out and built a better experience around it. The excellent art design, the fantastic action combat, and the striking visuals come to life in what is easily one of the best RPGs of 2023 and a blueprint on how to make a great remake while keeping the spirit of the original alive.