Well, I’ve reviewed several Square-Enix games now; some that I’ve really enjoyed, and some that I couldn’t stand. The Last Remnant was released for the Xbox 360 on November 20th of 2008, and for the PC on April 9th of 2009. It takes a little bit of a different spin on the Japanese Role Playing Game market by giving you some cool features and an exciting new turn-based battle system that takes significant amounts of strategy and skill. On top of that, this is by far the most challenging Role Playing Game I’ve ever played. Now, it is not without it’s faults, but I greatly enjoyed myself throughout my entire play through of this title, so here are my thoughts, on The Last Remnant.
The Last Remnant opens with lead character Rush Sykes, running through a field looking for his missing sister Irina after monsters attacked the two while they were watching a message from their parents letting them know that they were doing significant research on something called Remnants and that the two kids were to meet up with them. Rush finds himself in the middle of a huge battlefield where the rest of the games primary characters are found fighting off an army of monsters. These characters take Rush under their wings, as they know of his sister and parents, and realize that Rush is in fact someone of great importance to a war that is about to start. Taking the lead from Lost Odyssey, part of The Last Remnant’s story follows Rush and Irina in their path of self discovery as to who they really are.
Alongside the that of Rush, there are a few additional storylines that involve war and deception in the political world, and the arrival of a new dominator named coincidentally the Conqueror, who is stealing the all of the world’s Remnants for himself in an effort to conquer the world. Now, a remnant is a magical artifact that contains outrageously strong powers to whomever controls them. The three main storylines all intersect and all deal with the use of these magical artifacts and of course there are going to be tons of plot twists.
The story alone is fabulous and could probably spawn off it’s own novel. It keeps you hooked and thirsty to for more. You’ll love it and you’re not going to be able to wait to see what’s going to happen next!
The Last Remnant should take you somewhere between 40 and 50 hours depending on how many of the sometimes lengthy side quests you partake in, and how often you die. On top of this, there are 3 free downloadable additions to the game to provide you with additional challenge quests. Speaking of dying often, you are going to. This game is freaking hard. Near the end of the first disc, the fights start to significantly ramp up in difficulty and they don’t ever slow down. Once you notice the tougher fights, it’s going to be a rough journey for you until you complete the game. One boss in particular took me 5 hours to beat. I just kept dying over and over. Luckily I was rewarded with some epic cut-scenes afterwards.
Because of the ramp in difficulty, you are actually going to have to do some grinding every now and then to get your stats up. Luckily, your characters actually let you know when you are going to need to do this by suggesting that you leave town to go practice fighting.
Besides the story, the unique combat system in The Last Remnant is the star. You will partake in epic turn-based battles, but you’ll control up to 18 different characters at a time. To prevent this from overwhelming you, soldiers are grouped into 5-man unions that you define and manage. You choose their formation, which soldiers you want in each union, and how you want them to act. On top of that, each character has their own stats, but the union shares the stats of the combined group. So an entire union acts as a single soldier on the battlefield. The same is true of the monsters. There is much strategy involved in determining who should be in each union, as well as which actions they should perform on the battlefield and who they should attack. I can’t emphasize how important it is to have well balanced and properly formed unions. If you find that you are dying a lot, it’s probably time to go recruit some new soldiers and reform your unions.
Because each battle can consume nearly all of your health, it is restored and all status ailments are removed after each battle, so there is nothing to slow you down between fights. There is a multi-monster engagement system like in Blue Dragon, that lets you group monsters together on the field to fight them all at once to yield better rewards and experience.
There is also a crafting system nearly Identical to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time. You collect components from monsters or by destroying items to either spruce up a weapon, or to create entirely new ones.
The save system in the game is a double edged sword. It’s great because you can save the game anywhere. That means in the middle of a dungeon or in the middle of town. But, there is no auto-save system or save points to encourage you to save your game, so if you forget to do it, like I did, you may find yourself dying and restarting where you were 2 hours previous.
Like in Lost Odyssey, The Last Remnant utilizes the Unreal Engine 3 to provide absolutely beautiful in-game and cut-scene graphics. The characters and the environment are beautifully textured and the particle system is out of this world. Buuuuut, for these same reasons, you will notice texture popping in every single scene, and every single battle will have lots of frame rate issues. I eventually got over this, but initially I thought this was going to be a terribly long game because of it.
The soundtrack is also wonderful and the music in battles is terribly engaging. The voice acting is actually wonderful as well, unlike so many of the other Square-Enix games. Not one character was annoying to me. Hell, I even though that one of them sounded just like Ewan McGregor.
The Last Remnant was a blessing to play, especially after my last review. While the graphics had many frame rate and texture popping issues, they were just stunning. Luckily, the PC version of the game corrects most of these issues and even adds some additional features. The story is very engaging, and most importantly, the game play is exciting and fun and never feels repetitious. The game is long and challenging, and it really takes a lot of skill and strategy to keep yourself alive. All of this for only 20 bucks now seems like a great deal to me!