Gaming Review: Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time

The Star Ocean franchise is something that’s actually become to be known as somewhat of a cult classic, and somewhat of an intergalactic space epic. Till The End of Time was the final game that I played, having played The Last Hope a very long time ago, and well…I was actually disappointing with this instalment into the franchise. Be it one thing or another, there was always something that was getting in the way of enjoyment and making me silently curse at the game, be it thinking “Won’t you SHUT UP?” or silently laughing myself to death inside.

Star Ocean is a JRPG set out in space, and it’s become known for some really big things. Firstly, it’s become famous for the characters and the variety of characters that you can recruit into your team. Then there was the universe, managing to span an entire world of intergalactic space travel and alliances and different alien races.  Then there was everything else that the game had, with interesting sci-fi styled plots and game elements that made things overly interesting. However, Till The End of Time almost spat on all of these.

I’ll start with the characters. The main character, Fayt, is a joke. He is a walking Dues Ex Machina and exists solely to make the plot more “epic”, yet ends up making things just less and disappointing  He’s referred to in the game as a square, yet he completely throws all of his ideals and all of his morals out the window because he just HAPPENED to meet someone who looked identical to his best friend, which is…well, complete nonsense in itself. Sadly, almost all of his interactions and ploys are like this, where he actually goes as far as to really loudly shout out  things which are really obvious. If I could tell one thing to him, it would be SHUT UP.

Next on death row is a space agent called Cliff, who is somehow able to magically dodge bullets and beat enemies up with just his fists. Why? Because he can! The only reason given is because of his race, and sadly, all of the characters have stupid scenarios and angsty backstories which could make Final Fantasy 7 blush. The only character I actually like is the one who says “Screw it” to convention and fights using her phase gun. The supporting characters and the side characters also fall into this issue, with everything being boring and not worth actually reading/enjoying.

Okay, so you’ve got a sci-fi game. However, the duration of the game is spent in environments that aren’t even remotly sci-fi, going from underdeveloped planet to bland ruin. I won’t say that they’re a problem or that they’re something bad, because the enviroments are actually pretty nicely designed and they have things which can make the world come alive. However, that doesn’t mean that it should be there. It doesn’t live up to the premise which the game promised, and spends way too much of it’s time being grounded on a single world that it’s actually rather boring. The environments and the plains all blend together after a little while, and navigation turns into the most boring of boring fetch quests as you go from point A to point B.

So, the characters are poor and there’s a really odd variety of recruitables. The location of the game is bland and boring, and it’s somewhat of a cop-out, considering the game actually shows that it can deliver sci-fi themed environments with one or two locations. The final thing i’ve got to talk about is the plot, and it’s actually the thing which I have a little bit of praise for. The plot tries to mix it’s morals with it’s gameplay and it’s x with it’s y, and whilst the story is pretty odd (shooting down alien spaceships with a primitive energy weapon, anyone?) it’s certainly got it’s charms and it’s things which it manages to do well.

I’ll be blunt. SO:Till the End of Time is your bog-standard JRPG. It doesn’t have any saving characters or a plot that blows the middling gameplay out the water, and the battle system is as average as they get nowadays. The big problem with the game is that the game itself needs a little bit of ambition and a little bit of creativity, and that it can’t hold a candle to JRPG’s that can be found almost everywhere else. It’s not worth wasting your time.

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