Star Ocean The Second Story R Preview – A Worthy Remake of a Standout JRPG

For as niche as the Star Ocean franchise is, especially compared to the heavy hitters of Square Enix’s catalog, Star Ocean The Second Story has always remained one of their most beloved JRPGs. Initially launching for the original PlayStation before seeing an enhanced PSP release, fans and newcomers can now look forward to an entirely new version of the classic, titled Star Ocean The Second Story R.

Featuring an utterly refined presentation akin to the modern HD-2D efforts from the developer, like Octopath Traveler and the ever-elusive Dragon Quest III remake, Star Ocean The Second Story R was already intrinsically more unique due to its nature as an action game. Before playing it and seeing it in person for ourselves, we were equally excited yet hesitant about this bold new direction. But now, we couldn’t be more exhilarated for this renewed entry.

Players can choose between two selectable protagonists, Claude and Rena, akin to the recently released Star Ocean The Divine Force. Claude is a Pangalactic Federation officer and son of the legendary Ronyx Kenny, causing him to have internal strife regarding his identity. During a mission, Claude’s ego gets the better of him as he’s transported to an underdeveloped planet and spotted by Rena, confusing him for the Hero of Light.

One of the central appeals of Star Ocean is the melding of sci-fi and fantasy, with the contrasts between Claude and Rena making themselves readily apparent right from the outset. Further, this choice of protagonist allows players to choose who embodies their desired state of immersion, with newcomers perhaps better outfitted for the perspective of Rena, a girl ignorant of what lay beyond her daily perceptions. Both are endearing in their own ways, with Claude being my preferred pick, at least as a fan of the series with knowledge of his lineage.


Playing the opening segments of this game with this brand-new presentation was honestly a pretty surreal experience, as it, with no exaggeration, felt like an entirely new title altogether. Of course, the environment made an impression, but so did the new character portraits. In all honesty, even though Star Ocean The Second Story has had different art styles for the character portraits, the ones in The Second Story R look like their definitive iterations. Even from the little I’ve seen, each character’s depiction is far less typically anime and more distinctive with stark shading.

As for gameplay, Star Ocean The Second Story R feels entirely different from previous releases. While we haven’t played enough to form a solid grasp on the ins and outs of combat feel, it’s definitely a shift. Speed is far more emphasized, with character switching making the pace of battles far swifter than one would expect. I wouldn’t describe these alterations as seamless or such, like in The Divine Force, but it will undoubtedly aid newcomers yearning for a faster-paced JRPG. I can’t comment on the challenge level or such yet; fans should just be open-minded about a new-feeling gameplay loop. For those interested, French, Italian, German, and Spanish language support has been confirmed for launch day, with Earth, Galaxy, and Universe difficulty options for accessibility purposes.

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Star Ocean The Second Story R is looking to be the remake of my dreams. For such an iconic entry in the franchise, I’m glad it’s receiving just treatment, and I’m hoping these favorable impressions of the combat and presentation remain throughout the entire experience. This truly is a game that will be new for veterans and newcomers alike.

Star Ocean: The Second Story R is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam on November 2, 2023.

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.