by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I played quite a bit of The Last Remnant when it came out on Xbox 360 because it really stood out as a fascinating, different turn-based RPG. Despite some issues, it was still interesting enough to capture my attention. That’s with the 360 version freezing, stalling or crashing every couple of hours, and woe unto me if I forgot to save. The story of Rush Sykes, Anime Everyman, is out to save his sister, Irina. Somehow he gets embroiled into this wild and wacky adventure, filled with Remnants – powerful magical technology from an era long past. Conveniently, his family is well-respected, brilliant scientists and he also conveniently has a magical power, an incredible power that lets him even the odds in the direst of situations. The story is nothing new or exciting in JRPGs, and what this game lacks in depth, it more than makes up for it in the tactical possibilities of combat.
It’s important to note that this is the Xbox 360 version and the PC version are very different, and I feel like maybe this is an amalgamation of the two. There were a variety of useful, important changes to the PC version, not the least of which was Auto Save. Thankfully, that also made its way to this game, and every time you transition screens or complete a battle, it saves. Yet the limit on who can be in what Union (party) seems to not be here. The Union system is where you create small parties, each with their own formation and party members. In battle, you control the fate of all of your Unions (unless they are guests), and I’ll get more into that shortly. In the 360 version, you could not have a character that is a “Leader” in the same union with another Leader. But I could have all of my major NPCs in one party in this one it seems, so this ultimately leaves me more confused.
What also creates confusion for me, the PC version of The Last Remnant offered a Japanese dub. I enjoyed this dub far more than the English one, and the characters had more emphasis and emotion in their voices. Maybe I just got tired of hearing Johnny Yong Bosch say “Let’s kick some ass!” every single battle. I am willing to admit that. So I have no idea what version of the game this is! There are not many concessions to quality-of-life changes in The Last Remnant Remastered. One that was definitely useful is Turbo Movement, which lets Rush dart across maps with the greatest of ease. This is useful because every map in this game is 1. Gigantic and 2. You will grind on them a lot. A whole lot. The maps still feel kind of empty to me, mostly due to how gigantic they are. I love being able to stare off into the distance on them, though – the backgrounds and foregrounds are still very pretty. But if there aren’t enemies on the map, it’s lonely looking.
I’ve talked about stuff I don’t like about The Last Remnant, but remember why I said I love this game? I do, and the Battle System is why. It’s cruel, oftentimes it feels unfair, but it was certainly unique. When you enter a battle, each Union will receive a set of orders. If you press square, you’ll see what commands these orders will offer. From “Use Physical/Mystic Arts”, “Use Healing Items”, “Flank them!”, “Heal your friends!” et cetera, you don’t get to actually pick what your team does, but you get a little bit of say so. If you’re unsure, you can leave it up to the NPCs, and just throw caution and fate to the wind. Through combat, you’ll learn new powers, improve old ones, and gather components to improve your weapons/armor. Your unions can flank, be flanked, be multiflanked (surrounded on all sides), and the morale meter determines how you’re doing. The higher/lower your morale, the better your damage will be. Each Union has an HP pool, and if it runs out, that Union is terminated. If the Leader of the Union is disabled, that Union will also be unable to move/make decisions. This makes the makeup and formation of each Union incredibly important. You want them to all be distinct, but a little balance helps so that each Union can act in a variety of situations.
Your Unions will also fluctuate, as major characters come and go, but you can also get more of these party members at the Guild in any major city. The more expensive a unit, the better they tend to be (Don’t miss out on Caedmon, he’s incredible. Get him early if you can). Most of your money will come from selling captured units and their body parts, but occasionally your party will ask you for parts from battle or ask you to go hunt down certain things. This can be annoying, mostly because it’s time-consuming. Between actual fighting and Mr. Diggs (A little robot that helps you mine/farm materials), you’ll have your hands full with the grind. This leads me to another thing that really kind of bothered me. I liked it, but it frustrated me. Character classes are unclear. As you improve stats and skills in battle, occasionally a character’s class will change. It’s not clear in the game, or adequately explained why, but it seems to be based on the stats and skills used in your fights. What you do and where you go is never clear in the game, but the exploration and the actual fights are what make it fun. Every single fight could be your last, and the longer the game goes, the longer and harder these fights get.
Smash ‘em from the sides: 3.5/5
Despite how frustrating this game can be, it’s still a solid, enjoyable RPG. The incredibly unique combat style is what made this world interesting for me. The unit designs, for player and enemies alike, were incredible, the formation system really offered a lot of tactical depth. There are lots of times where I would die to a fight three, four, five times because I just could not get a handle on what they were doing. I appreciate that though because I want to be challenged and think my way through an encounter. Sometimes it was that I was pulling too many enemies at once, or they were simply far too powerful. Maybe I needed different formations, or was in an area I wasn’t supposed to be yet. You can wander off the beaten path in this game from time to time, and journey to areas that you don’t have enough units to do battle in. While there’s a lot of grinding, you cannot grind a max party member increase – that’s only unlocked through the main story. So when in doubt – move the story forward! There are plenty of side quests, hidden missions, hidden party members to unlock, and secrets to explore. It’s a deep, interesting RPG, and while it can be vexing, and hair-pulling maddening, I still would recommend The Last Remnant to anyone looking for a taste of the Xbox 360-era RPGs.
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.