During the PlayStation era, pre-rendered scenarios in role-playing games were all the rage: hand-drawn pixels were perceived by many as outdated, while real-time 3D often came across as very abstract due to the hardware. Render graphics were considered the ideal middle ground; they gave the role-playing games of this era their very own atmosphere. Now we don’t know whether it was actually the central concern of developer studio Gemdrops to transfer exactly this look and mood to the third HD dimension, but it was definitely successful! The real-time 3D scenarios feel real thanks to the fixed camera and the enormous closeness to the pre-rendered original Star Ocean: The Second Story R like dynamic, freely accessible PlayStation areas. And the parallels don’t end there: With pixelated sprite protagonists, separate battle screens, numerous villages and cities, a sprawling, zoomed-out world map and branching dungeons, the intergalactic science fantasy adventure is firmly rooted in the golden role-playing games of the 1990s in both gameplay and staging – which is actually meant here in the best sense.
You choose between two protagonists: Claude C. Kenny is the son of the hero of the first, who has now been promoted to star admiral Star Ocean. Although he gets along well with his father, he still feels immense pressure from expectations and tries to step out of the long shadow. A reckless action takes him to the medieval-looking planet Expel, where he quickly meets the young Rena Lanford. She is the second character you can choose. Although the two of them go on a good part of the adventure side by side, their paths diverge every now and then, so two passages are not entirely wrong for a complete picture of the story.