Star Ocean The Second Story R Review

Star Ocean The Second Story R Review
The OMG Review
Our review format is not your usual fare and we’ve broken it down into 3 very simple ratings!

“Buy it!” means that the game deserves a place in your collection. Be it day 1 or a slightly delayed purchase, it’s hard to go wrong with this title. In numbers, this is around an 8/10 and above.

“Wait for it…” means that while the game is good, it probably isn’t worth it at its day 1 price point. We suggest you wait for a sale before jumping in. In numbers, this is around a 5 – 7/10.

“Ignore it!” means that the game is not something we’d recommend playing, whether it be now or in the near future. Maybe ever. Let’s not even go to the numbers for this one.

Sneak Peek
  • Release Date: Nov 2, 2023
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Genre: RPG
  • Similar Games: Tales of Vesperia, Tales of Series
  • Price: starts at $49.99

Star Ocean is a highly regarded series, but among many of its installments, Star Ocean The Second Story could is arguably as the best among them all. This remake comes highly requested and, just in time for the 25th anniversary since the original was released, it is definitely a good time to jump into the game either for the first time or once again for longtime fans.

Star Ocean The Second Story R tells the story of Federation Officer Claude Kenny as he finds himself mysteriously transported to an underdeveloped planet and is quickly dubbed as the Hero of Legend by Rena Lanford. Together, they embark on a quest to investigate a mysterious stone that’s been said to be the cause of the recent mishaps as well as monster appearances. On their journey, they will meet many adventurers who will join them on their adventure to save the world.

It’s a typical story and something that you’ll be fully familiar with if you’ve played any JRPGs before. Despite that, the journey is fascinating, and with many systems to engage with such as multiple endings, crafting, and a fast-paced combat system, Star Ocean The Second Story R is a must-play for fans of the series and of RPGs in general, an perfect for newcomers looking to get their feet wet in the Star Ocean series.

Being a remake, the most immediate thing players will notice with Star Ocean The Second Story R is the updated visuals. The leap from PS1 to PS5 is quite massive, but the remake doesn’t exactly push the hardware to its limits. While the pixel sprites of the characters are much smoother and cleaner, the 3D backgrounds received the biggest overhaul.

The Character sprites stand out so well from the stark contrast of its surroundings, and it actually looks like a diorama or pop-up book of sorts. I can see how some players won’t quite like how it turned out due to the difference in art styles, but it didn’t bother me too much, and I grew to like it in just a short time.

The town and dungeon backgrounds aren’t the only things that received a visual upgrade, but the world map gets a facelift as well. Textures have been modernized and are in line with the 3D look, resulting in quite a lovely outcome. Gemdrops have done great work here, even going as far as creating new character illustrations done by the original character designer Yukihiro Kajimoto, and even extending the improvements to the cutscenes.

star ocean the second story r screenshot 4

While the differing art styles might be divisive, Motoi Sakuraba’s soundtrack has been fully rearranged for Star Ocean The Second Story R, resulting in a sublime experience. Players can choose either the original or the rearranged versions, and even though you can’t go wrong with any, it’s ultimately an easy choice.

The original PS1 game wasn’t fully voiced as well, especially in cutscenes, and Star Ocean The Second Story R rectifies the situation by listening to feedback from the fans. Similar to the BGM, players can also choose to switch between versions. It’s a great touch from Gemdrops, allowing the charm of the original to still see the light of day while offering a fully modernized experience fitting the times.

In fact, the original cast make a return to reprise their roles, offering new voice recordings for the characters. Taking it one step further, players can even customize voices per character, providing a varied audio experience that is rarely seen in remakes.

One of the best aspects of the original game was its fast-paced battles, relying on combos and timely attacks to chain skills and pummel the enemy. Star Ocean The Second Story R doesn’t offer a full overhaul here similar to its visuals, but instead, it keeps the base systems while adding new layers that make battles feel both familiar and fresh.

Players will now be able to see enemies in the field, giving them the choice of wanting to engage or not, even employing a combat advantage when approaching enemies from behind. Enemy links can also occur, where a chain of enemies will engage players in a continuous wave of battles that offer increased rewards. These are small tweaks, but it’s great that Gemdrops have thoughtfully added extra layers of convenience that fully modernize the experience.

The game even offers players a Bonus Gauge that fills up every time the party performs well during battles, As the gauge fills up, the party is provided extra bonuses in the form of defense, attack, and much more. It’s a great touch that incentivizes continuous battles and empowers the party in ways that are felt concretely.

star ocean the second story r screenshot 3

Speaking of new additions in Star Ocean The Second Story R, enemies now have shields that players must break to open them up to receiving continuous critical hits, serving as the key for some of the tougher bosses and the challenging Raid Enemies that roam the field. Players are also rewarded with timing during battles, as they can regain small amounts of MP along with activating what’s called a Just Counter, shifting them behind the enemy for a free hit.

Party members not included in your party can also offer assistance in the form of Assault Actions, jumping in, and providing firepower. Various party members can be assigned on each of the directional buttons, and this seemingly small feature really sets players up with combos that weren’t available in the original game. It’s a great system that further speeds up the already fast pace of combat but doesn’t relegate things to a simple hack-and-slash affair.

Speaking of things not available in the original, crafting in Star Ocean The Second Story R also sees an improvement with the appearance of Factors, which are basically additional attributes that further provide players with deeper build direction. Want to increase spell damage? Equip Celine with a weapon that provides a bonus to INT. A variety of factors are available, and is a superb addition to the already-loaded crafting system.

star ocean the second story r screenshot 2

As you’ll notice, Star Ocean The Second Story R is filled with a lot of these additions that really provide depth to the overall experience. Gemdrops didn’t feel the need to put the combat system through the wringer, but instead added a lot of learnings from many other combat systems and chose only the ones that would improve and enhance.

All things considered, Star Ocean The Second Story R is a fantastic remake from Gemdrops and is a good example of how a developer can praise the legacy of the original game while offering a fresh experience even for longtime fans.

What we liked:

  • Sublime rearranged tracks from Motoi Sakuraba
  • Decent voice performances for both English and Japanese dubs
  • Pixel art with 3D backgrounds strangely works well together
  • Various quality-of-life upgrades

What we didn’t like:

  • No changes in terms of the main story, side quests, or private actions
  • Traits may feel a bit overwhelming

Verdict: Buy it!


Star Ocean The Second Story R is a superb remake that takes an already content-heavy game and further improves the adventure with meaningful additions that enhance the experience by a wide margin. From simple quality-of-life conveniences to added crafting and customizing depth, Star Ocean The Second Story R does not disappoint.

Combat sees the biggest improvements in Star Ocean The Second Story R. Already a fast-paced affair, additions like Assault Actions and Break States add great depth and a strategic aspect not present in the original. Instead of a complete system overhaul that some remakes do, Gemdrops opted to retain the feel of the original while adding a fresh new layer, and it totally nails that objective big time.

Despite launching in between big releases, Star Ocean The Second Story R is a fantastic RPG experience that shouldn’t be overlooked. Fans of the original will be pleased with the breadth and scope that the remake offers, while newcomers can use this as a stepping stone to dive further into the series.

*Star Ocean The Second Story R was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.

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