Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: December 5, 2019
Price as of Article: $20.99, £16.99
Game code provided by Square Enix
Game Size: 4.1 GB
Star Ocean First Departure R is a JRPG published by Square Enix. It is an upgrade from the original that released on the Playstation Portable back in 2008. However, is this a remake worth revisiting? Or are the stars reflecting brightly on that pearly ocean? Welcome to SwitchWatch.co.uk, and here we go!
Star Ocean First Departure R finds you in the mostly peaceful town of Kratus, as the character Roddick and his friends, Millie and Dorne, who are part of the local defense force. When bandits come knocking on your door, you start your first battles of the game, which consists of Tales-esque combat.
A complaint I had was that the battle maneuvering was slightly awkward. After the bandits, you receive a letter from a neighboring village informing you and your band of friends of a mysterious outbreak. Naturally, you go to investigate. Suddenly, people appear in a pillar of light claiming they are there to help you. And so your journey begins.
Once you start traveling, you will encounter what are called “private actions,” similar to the side scenes in the Tales franchise. You will get to know characters a little more in depth through these private actions.
You learn about skills from skill shops, and then have to put skill points towards those skills in order to learn them for each character. Some skills will raise restorative effects of healing items while others can help you create items.
A problem I had was that sometimes it was unclear how to proceed. Occasionally the game will let you know you are going in the wrong direction by making you unable to go somewhere else. But other than that, you are on your own. If you have not played in a while and forgot what to do, you are pretty much out of luck.
Another problem is that the game will sometimes suddenly increase the difficulty, making it easy for your party to perish – game over. This was exceptionally annoying at times, as I thought myself to be properly leveled.
There were also too many “surround” and “back” attacks, where my party was unexpectedly attacked, giving the enemy precious time to pummel away at my characters and kill them off before I could return attack or flee. The sheer amount of battles was irritating. I have played many RPGs, but this is one of those where there is a battle practically every step you take. And even then you do not seem to be strong enough after all of those battles. It is infuriating.
There are more battles than there is plot development. It is a large chunk of battles with a smidgen of plot to try to tide you over with your rising irritation.
Just from the start, you can tell Star Ocean First Departure R has a great soundtrack. The opening theme, surprisingly sung by a male (which seems like a rare occurrence in my experience compared to frequent female vocals), was excellent. As I pondered my choice of which voice to use, the music on that menu was quite soothing.
The voice acting offers three choices; the First Departure R Japanese voice, the First Departure Japanese voice, or English voice acting. While all three options were good, I ultimately went with the First Departure R Japanese voice acting. You are able to sample the voices before choosing which one you want to use. I enjoyed the voice acting overall (although Millie’s First Departure R Japanese voice was somewhat obnoxious) as well as the game’s soundtrack.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
The blurry quality of the opening theme was a bit discouraging at first. However, in-game video seems to be much improved. How the opening theme video managed to pass scrutiny is unknown.
Another issue I had was that on the world map at night. It was practically impossible to see where you were going because the sky was so dark.
The sprites are clean and crisp, and the way the character’s faces expressively react during battle was entertaining.
When you tell Roddick’s mother about vegetables at the shop at the beginning of the game, it seems as though there’s a glitch of some sort that prompts this to happen twice (or maybe more) as this repeats. Private actions, too, seem repeatable. It is a very odd problem.
Another odd occurrence is that the cutscenes do not match the avatars. The avatars have the new art, and the cutscenes do not seem to have been updated alongside them. That seems like a large oversight for a series like Star Ocean. It was quite jarring.
The loading screens were quick and did not seem to take much time at all, which I very much appreciated.
Something important to note: USE ZR! I was driven crazy in the beginning thinking that was the fastest my character could move. Using ZR help you to run and go at a decent speed. Alternatively, use B to slow down. I have no idea what purpose that serves in game, though.
Regarding the AI, it was absolutely terrible, in my opinion. When you try to flee, some of your characters remain behind to fight still. This ends up with them either losing a great deal of HP or dying. This was an obnoxious thing to deal with when trying to flee from large groups of enemies especially. Running takes forever too, so that can result in a game over as well. The only plus is that if your characters die when left behind, it does not result in a game over for you.
At $20.99/£16.99 and at least twenty hours of gameplay, one could say the game is a good value.
However, the game seems to be an epic fetch quest without much substance besides battle after battle after battle. If you have copious amounts of patience and time, you may enjoy Star Ocean First Departure R. It is quite challenging, so for those looking for a difficult game, the value is definitely there. For those like me with little patience for a excessive battles and constant game overs should stay clear.
General lack of direction
Steep difficulty curves
Too many battles
Too much backtracking
A fetch quest of epic proportions
Star Ocean First Departure R Review
Story - 6.5/10
Gameplay - 4/10
Audio - 9/10
Visuals & Performance - 6/10
Value - 8/10
While the graphics and audio perform quite well for Star Ocean First Departure R, I am afraid there are some hiccups with the rest of the game. Some strange elements in terms of gameplay and performance just detract from the game overall. If you have patience, you may be okay with some of the game’s flaws. However, as the plot is somewhat generic, you may still not be satisfied with the challenge the game brings.