Every now and then a game will come along that flies under the radar. This is very true in the JRPG world, since it’s not mainstream unless it has Final and Fantasy in the title. A lot of these sleeper hits come from the creators of FF, whether they are still employed by Square Enix or not. Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Shadow Hearts, Lost Odyssey, all created by Square or former employees and all underground hits. The Last Remnant features the Unlimited Saga team, and will be the next in line to fall under the category of a truly great, unsung hero.
You’d think when you have a game that was released in 2008, you would have finished playing it by now.
But then you finish playing it, and you don’t know what to do with your life anymore.
Which brings me to the game I’m going to talk about, The Last Remnant.
The Last Remnant is a game developed by Square Enix and released in 2008.
It was first made to Xbox 360 and then later ported to PC via Steam, I personally owning the PC version.
So you’d think that since it’s a game by Square Enix it would be rather popular right?
I don’t know why but I seem to have a tendency to love games that no one knows about or don’t take them in high regard (Star Ocean The Last Hope and Infinite Undiscovery just to name a few) and I think the reason why is that I like when a game try to be different and try out new things, instead of having the “status quo” and I think this game did succeed with that, well at least for me.
Still, I didn’t believe that this was going to be a safe pick, but boy was this game ACTUALLY GOOD.
The story does a good job of drawing you into their world. No, it’s nothing that will blow your mind innovative wise. Yet, they do the cliché’ “boy grows strong and overcomes adversity to save the world” thing well. Very well.
Sticking to the plot and spoiler-free, the story is about Rush Sykes, the son of two very well-respected scientists who study the Remnants. Remnants are the equivalent of what the wonders of the world are to Earth. Ancient artifacts from a mysterious past. Some are worshiped, some are even used as weapons. The bond between those who rule the Remnants and those who obey is broken, and the story that unfolds will keep you interested in moving the plot along. The main villain is very mysterious and has the “it” factor that a lot of villains don’t.
I felt the main story was actually good, but the main attraction I felt was the side quests. Normally when you play a jrpg, the main story line is probably 90% of the story. This is not the case for The Last Remnant. Side quest I’d say holds 40% of the whole story. You’ll learn about the politics in the game/different culture/conquest/history/personal rivalry/etc. The Last Remnant does a really good job of making the story not just about the main character Rush, but the world as a whole…
The details of the environments are extremely well done, very comparable to Lost Odyssey or any other new-gen jrpg. The characters and enemy models are nearly perfect, and some of the weapon arts is amazing. Most spells are very fluid and have nice effects to them.
Yes, there are graphical issues with this game even on the PC. random texture pop ups that makes the game look like it came out of a PS2 and other stupid stuff that makes characters look really really weird. BUT I don’t care about all of this as long as the game was playable and fun and this is where it hit the mark.
Everyone wants to know about the technical problems, mainly due to the fact there are sometimes 40+ people on a screen fighting. First off, the texture popping is much less frequent than in many games rated very highly by your media types. Off the top of my head I can think of Mass Effect and GTA4 (rated a perfect 10) having bigger texture popping issues than TLR. As for the slowdown and lag during occasional battles, it’s there and noticeable at times, but in no ways annoying or a major slowdown of battles. Most battles move at a fairly rapid pace in spite of it. Besides the technical issues I addressed, the graphics are in tune with the times and the CG cut-scenes you get are well appreciated. Only other minor gripe is I would’ve liked to see a day/night feature to the game or some random weather in a few of the zones.
Pretty much if I had to pick a game that The Last Remnant was most similar to in terms of exploration, it’d be Final Fantasy X perfected. The problem with FFX in my opinion was that the game was too linear, but I did feel like they had the right idea. Instead of moving around the world map, the game gave off a sense of travel and journey, made me feel like the world was actually bigger than it was.
The old days of walking on a world map within 1 min with medieval technology made in theory, the world uninhabitable due to the lack of enough gravity to facilitate life. The Last Remnant hits the mark on this by not only using the FFX system and just creating random fork in the road, but giving purpose to each of these forks by utilizing quest/unique VERY CHALLENGING monsters/treasure chest/mining/”fishing”/etc.
It was just a blast to actually go and try to fully discover each of the zones and there are places that you have to discover yourself if you want to go there because the main quest won’t take you there. It’s a feeling that I haven’t had in a while from a JRPG.
Mainly for being unique, trying something new in the classic turn based sense, and for creating strategy and difficulty into the genre. They basically combined elements of the action rpg game, the strategy rpg game, and the cookie cutter turn based rpg game. What they came up with was brilliance to this reviewer.
This will be as quick of a rookie rundown as possible. First off, before the fight occurs this will seem like an action RPG. You will see the enemy on the screen, and a bubble over his head will determine his mood. You have a slowdown ability that basically freezes the enemy, and allows you to attract more monsters or run away in some cases. Some enemies can even do status ailments outside of the battle screen to you, making you unable to run….etc. The action rpg elements of picking and choosing fights and pulling more than one monster are incorporated to TLR. Once you engage said enemy(s), this is where your strategy and turn based elements come into play. Instead of controlling party members, you control Unions. Unions are made up of party members, or Units. Unions share the combined HP and AP of the Units that make them up. Once the HP of a Union goes down, all Units in it die. Get familiar with the Game Over screen. 🙂
AP is action points and are needed to do the Combat Skills, basically your above average attacks. Mystic Arts, or magic, is done from weapons and also take AP. Item Arts, or basic healing/buffing/debuffing from items takes no AP. Strategy comes into play because your movement of the Unions will allow for Flank Attacks, or Rear Attacks, giving your allies the upper hand. The orders you can give a certain Union is vast and sometimes seem random depending on an array of factors. There’s also strategy in the formations you choose to create a Union in. You start with a few basic ones and can unlock many more throughout the game, giving you ample options to customize. You also recruit leaders from guilds, and can buy soldiers from a city to complement your battles, allowing you to basically play through the game a few times with an almost completely different list of party members. This battle system also allows the player to create his own difficulty in a way. You have the option of fighting a single enemy, or taking your chance at a few. Risk-reward? The more enemies you pull and engage into battle the better the chance at rewards. But, just because you pull a single enemy doesn’t mean there won’t be 2+ Unions within. This can seem a bit unfair at times, and there are also a few moves by enemies that seem a bit “cheap” ala “Calvary Call“.
Be careful, and oh yeah, get used to the Game Over screen. 🙂
The battle system also did something that I felt JRPGs needed for a long time. A big problem with a ton of JRPGs is the hit point system. For some reason a tiny guy would have 6920 hit points and take shots from Meteors/other magic spells that make him look like an ant and still survive. What’s worse in my opinion is that a character can take a million slashes from a sword and still have a majority of his health left.
The Last Remnant got rid of majority of these feelings by making the battle squad based. Battles are no longer 1v4/3v4/3v3 in a straight line but there’s tactics and flanking involved. The game’s battle system is a genuine battle that involves quite a lot of characters fighting together like a team. Which is probably one of my favorite things about this game, because I can honestly not name another game which have or remotely similar kind of battle system.
Characters no longer had astronomical hit points, but are seriously susceptible to any attack and you really had to manage your squad. There are some randomness to who gets hit and all, but it was fair. I did sometimes feel a bit cheated, but at the same time it was within reason. Also side note is that characters bleed when they get hit, and also even when you are in the middle of choosing your actions, instead of just having the characters standing there idly, they are aware of their surroundings and sometimes block attacks from other enemies or “poke” them with their weapons.
The crafting/leveling system is also pretty interesting. Gone are the days where you go to a store and buy a new equipment every once in a while in order to get your squad stacked up. In this game, its best to upgrade your weapons because the weapons you buy from store are trash and the benefit to this system was that it created a sense of meaning for items. I no longer horded items I came across during the game for no reason at all, but instead kept it because I knew it’ll be useful. Also it amplified the effects of exploration because, you’ll use your digger to dig everywhere.
Another important thing this did was that it made the weapons have a history. A problem with JRPGs is that you go to one town, buy a sword, go to the next one sell the sword and get a better sword… etc. By making weapons upgradable, you get a real sense of history with the item and also more options. Also, rare loot was a very good implementation in this game, it made me want to discover the game’s world because on random occasions you’ll find a pretty good sword lying around inside of a chest.
I LOVE THE CHALLENGE OF THIS GAME. JRPGs have become REALLY easy, but in The Last Remnant I had to retry killing a monster 10x+ in order to finally kill it. This is one of those games where you can die on a random encounter as much as you can on a boss battle. It was a rare monster that had an AOE spell that could one-shot my entire team. I could tell the monster was killable, but that I had to use my brain and when I finally did, it felt so goooooooood. Also since you can tie in multiple monsters at the same time the difficulty can spike up to your choice. The bosses in this game are also no push over.
There is a reason why almost all forums of this game is about asking for help to defeat bosses.
Excellent. Superb even. Although this whole review is obviously opinionated, this category seems to be a bit more than the rest. Especially when discussing the soundtrack. What’s a beautiful symphony or a grinding boss battle theme to me may be flat out noise to another. I think SE did a great job offering a variety of tracks and not repeating many at all. Also, the battle music tends to become more dramatic if a long battle is ensuing, which is appreciated and helped to give the epic feel. There’s no denying this game has excellent sound effects. The sound of an axe chopping away, or a shield blocking an attack is very lifelike. Some of the character’s one-liners are a tad on the lame side, but aren’t they always? The voice acting is above average and on par with or better than most VA in games today. Absolutely no complaints out of me in this particular category, TLR nails it in every way.
Also you can switch between jap and eng voices anytime you want.
The battle system alone makes this game extremely fun. Let’s face it, in Jrpg’s the only way to advance is to fight, and fight A LOT. If that’s the case, the game better have a somewhat interesting format to get from point A to B. TLR does and is a truly unique experience. Tons of customization can be done with components dropped after fights. The component list is deep, so creating new weapons, enhancing old weapons, and creating accessories will give you plenty to hunt and search for. There’s dig spots, and a buddy named Mr. Diggs to help you salvage its contents. Mr. Diggs also levels up as you use him, making him the equivalent of a party member learning new skills and techniques for treasure hunting.
There’s also leaders and soldiers you may or may not hire, and want to on another play through, adding replay value. An intriguing storyline can also make a game fun, which TLR again does very nicely. It is very well written and acted out, which gives the player an urge to keep going. It’s pretty rare you find heavy replay value in a JRPG, but I can see myself going through this game again in due time. Some JRPG’s can stand the test of time, and are games that a player gets the itch to play over numerous times for a variety of reasons. Some games just flat out aren’t worth the trade-in value. Like I said earlier, I’m not a completion-ist and definitely wouldn’t try to do everything in this game on a first run. It should be enjoyed for its story and challenge, which would be null if you max’d everything before beating it.
But now that I got the goods out of the way. Here’s the negative. The game simply felt like it wasn’t really finished. Example, the story. The reason why I said it was good was because the story was satisfying, but it really felt like Square didn’t finish the job “Going to stop here to not say any spoilers”. There are other parts of the game that I felt was lazily designed. As great as the crafting/leveling system was, you can only customize Rush. All the other characters require you to give them items to customize themselves. This wasn’t a game breaker by no means, but I felt that Square was hasty in this department. Instead of giving you full control over every member in your party, you kind of have to play sort of a wait and see game of praying that one of your party members ask you for permission to have this item/focus on this part of his job. Those of you who played this game already should know that this is by no means a game breaker, it just could’ve been better.
If you ever had any fun with a JRPG, you should absolutely BUY THIS GAME. It presents a totally unique turn-based battle system, a cool cast of characters in a fascinating detailed world, and a challenge unlike most games in the genre. Compared to the more recent old school and new gen JRPG’s, this is very non-linear giving you the feeling of freedom in most cases.
Absolutely underrated by the masses.
So there you have it. IN MY OPINION The Last Remnant is a great game for all JRPG fans. If you enjoyed playing all the JRPG of yore FF/Chrono/Breath of Fire/etc. then this game is 100% for you and I doubt you’ll regret it.
This is a late review since the game is pretty old already, but as said at the beginning of the review, I have owned this game since 2010 and it took me 5 years to actually finish it.
And now when I actually have finished it, I will probably play it again. And this time I’ll try to not die too much.