Star Ocean: The Last Hope – hands-on

For fans of the Star Ocean series, The Last Hope comes as a bittersweet entry, being supposedly the final entry in the line of Star Trek inspired RPG games. Although it’s the end, it certainly plans to go out in style with its hyper-lavish visuals. The opening cinematic, which shines in pre-rendered glory, outlines the roots of space exploration in the Star Ocean universe, showing the nuclear apocalypse devastating the Earth’s surface, and the subsequent treaty between the warring factions. Finally, we see that only through the mistake of war does mankind force itself to truly explore the stars, since Earth doesn’t support live as humans need it.

Enter Edge Maverick (really?), yet another JRPG protagonist that is (sigh) mopy, effeminate, and adorned with perfectly tousled blond locks. Of course, as if by some natural law passed down by the JRPG gods, his soul-mate is a dark-haired, rail-thin girl with a surprising knack for combat and a “sassy” personality that provides tension between the two, as Edgy McEdge makes the usual infantile attempts to distance himself emotionally from her, for no apparent reason.

So far, so Final Fantasy. Still, all of this probably won’t bother RPG fans, and the nice part is that along with the tired clichés come all the good parts we come to expect. As we said, the game radiates a tranquil beauty that so many “gritty” games these days have abandoned, with pastel colors, tons of glowy things all over the place, and great details like the mechanical holsters the characters stow their weapons in, replete with cool transforming animations.

All of this beauty isn’t merely for show, but instead creates an intriguing emotional struggle for the human characters. Earth being a brown hunk of irradiated poo, humans discovering a vibrant, life-saturated planet has added meaning. The very first foray for our lead characters into space has them crash-landing on the planet they intended to explore. A veritable garden of Eden opens up before them, which would hold no particular significance if humans were just exploring space for the hell of it. Instead, it means so much more to them, with the green fields of Earth only a memory.