Sunday, September 25, 2011

So I Beat Star Ocean: First Departure

It's a pretty good feeling, having finally, completely taken down this series that has daunted me since days long passed.  While it wasn't quite as....hard-fought as Star Ocean 2, it wasn't a cakewalk either, thanks to the eleventh inning bullshit Tri-Ace threw in, though I'm not too upset about it really.  Though I am left with a bunch of conflicting emotions about the whole of it, as I usually am upon beating a game with no intention of jumping right back into the thick of it again directly after.  (Trophy hunting is mostly to blame for this, thanks to a lot of "Beat Hard to unlock Very Hard and beat it for a trophy" set-ups)

And even now, I'm not really sure about all I want to say here, as I am really, honestly tempted to write a review for the game.  I haven't gone through it as comprehensively as I did Ghost Trick prior to that review, but then again I'm quite sure I don't need to; thanks to my start-and-stop Relationship with SO2, I'm quite familiar with all that is Star Ocean 1&2 if you haven't noticed.  Still, restraint here would mean that I have that much more I can say in a review that isn't retreading information, and honestly, I think I'm going to go with that.  I need to write another one, anyways.

Still, I can say a few things here; namely that I really, really wish there were more games that do what Star Ocean tries to do.  Likely because other games would do it better, and quite so, but also because it's fairly untrodden territory as far as I know.  The mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy is rather seamless, especially so in Star Ocean:  First Departure when a man of Science learns how to use Symbology, which is Star Ocean's universal term for "magic", basically.  And not only that, but the lengths it goes to characterize the...well, characters surpass the attempts of several other prominent franchises, even if the end product isn't very 'deep'.

This is a dangerous thing to say, but Star Ocean (possibly as a series, I don't remember much of 3 and never played 4) is entirely too steeped in Anime.  The problem with this is that it's not, generally, the best examples of them either, so you'll get a lot of archetypes that are characterized well, but they still never grow out of those archetypes.  They never really surprise you, which works both ways, I suppose.  At least you know a character when you know them and don't have to worry about them suddenly being opposite of what you know about them, which most games confuse for a 'twist'.

Still, Star Ocean:  First Departure and Second Evolution (and by extention, Star Ocean and Star Ocean:  Second Story, the originals) have good foundations and very strong concepts, but they don't always build on them in the best ways.  And that's why I wish somebody else would take this 'formula' and work with it, polish it into something that really, really shines.  But maybe someone already has; I admit, I'm not as into RPGs as I was at one time, and even then I wasn't as knowledgeable as I could have been.  All I know is what I've said already and since I'll have to reiterate that in the review, I'll just save it for that.

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