Star Ocean The Second Story R Hands-On Preview
Previously released on the original PlayStation by Enix, Star Ocean The Second Story R was an entry point for most players to the Star Ocean series. Many have a soft spot for this game, and as it is arguably one of the best games in the series, seeing it remade is definitely something to look forward to.
We got the chance to talk to the team behind Star Ocean The Second Story R as they revealed their thoughts about the development of the game, but over at Tokyo Game Show 2023, we also got the chance to actually try the game out!
We only had 20 minutes to preview this gem, which offered two different modes to play: a level 35 run where we start in the middle of a story mission in order to get used to the controls and observe the basic gameplay, and a level 40 mode where we’re treated to more exploration and challenging battles utilizing skills that we’ve learned.
Immediately noticeable is its art style, mixing 2D pixel-style characters with 3D environments. This is certainly an interesting choice, one that was a deliberate decision by the developers to strike a balance between introducing something new and nostalgia. “Our goal for the environment was to create a fantasy-heavy but realistic feel at the same time, so it wouldn’t feel weird from a player’s perspective even if they saw a 2D character in a 3D environment,” says producer and director Yuichiro Kitao.
For the most part, it works. There’s a distinct diorama-like feel as these sprites run through the various environments, and while it could be said that it may be an acquired taste that would depend on players, it felt like a fresh take on the game while retaining a semi-classic feel.
The general gameplay of Star Ocean The Second Story R remains the same, and it remains fast, fluid, and action-packed from the get-go. Players will be able to switch between characters during battle, taking control of their desired characters while the competent AI handles the rest.
The improvements don’t stop there, as the game also features a facelift in terms of normal and Symbology attacks, which provides a welcome modern take that new and old players of the game will certainly appreciate.
Also new to Star Ocean The Second Story R are the assault actions and break systems, both of which will prove to be crucial aspects that players will need to master to achieve success. Despite being new features, they feel natural and fit well into the grand scheme of things, adding another modern touch while improving the overall feel of combat.
Playing on a PS5, Star Ocean The Second Story R comes to life as it seamlessly switches between maps and scenes, utilizing modern hardware to almost eliminate loading times. While this is certainly a worthy upgrade from the previous version, one other thing players can look forward to is the newly arranged soundtrack by Motoi Sakuraba, the original composer of the tracks found in the game.
Kitao-san shares that Sakuraba is definitely an integral piece of this remake, also saying that “the new tracks and the arrangements of the existing tracks are all great.” Based on what we heard with our limited time, we would tend to agree, and we can’t wait to hear more.
Overall, Star Ocean The Second Story R looks to be a stellar effort, and being one of the most beloved titles in the long-running franchise, fans and newcomers can look forward to the game in just a little over a month from now.
Star Ocean The Second Story R launches on November 2 for the PS4, PS5, Switch, and PC.