There will be no review of The Last Story.
No, it’s not because I am too lazy to write it. It’s because I played 10 hours and couldn’t take another minute. It wasn’t a terrible game, exactly. It just wasn’t fun. I wasn’t having a good time and one of my promises to myself going forward is not to feel obligated to play something if I am not enjoying it. The second I turned off the game and drove to GameStop, I felt better. Justified. Like a new person. That’s how I knew I made the right decision.
I’m sure you are asking what was so wrong with The Last Story? What could be so bad coming from Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy? Well, let’s start with the story: it’s pretty bland. You play as Zael, one of a group of mercenaries who dream of becoming knights and gaining a higher station in life. Zael is a standard RPG hero: compassionate and boring. His comrades are far more interesting, even if they all fall into easy to categorize descriptions: the drunken woman who parties too much, the womanizer, the emo mage…I didn’t hate any of them and the British accents made what they said pleasant to hear. The problem is, it was all so mundane that the second the screen went black indicating a cut-scene was starting, I was checking my phone to see if anyone made a Hero Academy move. Not a good sign.
The actual story takes quite a bit to get going, but after a brief prologue that introduces you to the to combat, you find yourself wandering the city, looking for something to do. There are a few side-quests you can undertake, but they amount to a merchant giving you a shopping list and then you going to purchase the requested items and bring them to the quest-giver. And since there is no journal or quest log, I hope you brought a pen and paper. Needless to say, I didn’t attempt many side-quests after that. Oh and the way in which you interact with people is STUPID. If you want to talk to someone and you bump into them, your character knocks them off balance. You then have to wait for them to slow-walk back to their appointed spot before you can interact with them. I have never seen this before in any video game that I can recall and I hope I never see it again. It boggles the mind at how inane this is.
Anyway, while wandering the city, you have a chance meeting with a mysterious girl. You wander around the city together, introduce her to your friends and then she suddenly has to go…any guesses as to where this is headed? That’s right…she’s a princess! Seriously? This isn’t exactly a twist anymore. From there the story becomes the typical “Bad guys attack and things go to hell” scenario that frankly bored me. I don’t know if i gets better, but I honestly don’t care.
“But Anthony!”, you must surely be saying to yourself, “You are Mr. Gameplay Matters More Than Story. What about the gameplay? Wasn’t it worth sitting through a few dozen tepid cut-scenes?” Well, I’m glad you asked, my
inquisitive friend. Because the answer is a resounding “No”. You see, the battle system is very unique and sort of fun. But it’s also easy and mindless and had me casting longing glances at my phone for more Hero Academy. They dole out new features at a decent rate, but none of it feels like it gives me complete control of my party. Granted, you only control one character, but you are given (eventually) the option to give commands to your party members, but it is highly limited to just two spells or skills.
The battles are fun, but I never feel involved. Your character auto-attacks whoever is near him and your allies seem content to do their own thing unless you have a specific strategy in mind, which is rarely needed. And in the rare cases when a certain tactic is required to defeat an enemy, usually a boss, the game will just outright tell you what you need to do to win. Not exactly the challenge an RPG veteran like myself is looking for. Even dying takes quite a bit of effort as you and your allies can die in battle 5 times EACH before the game is over. It’s so forgiving that you find yourself moving around the battlefield, numbly striking at nearby foes with indifference. Either the developers at Mistwalker were trying to cater to an audience of Wii-Remote swinging grandmothers or I accidentally entered the code for God Mode while trying to skip through the dialogue.
I expected so much more from this game and from this developer. He is responsible for some of my favorite games of all time and I’ve heard high praise about The Last Story. But I honestly don’t see it. The game is decent, but nothing more. Even the soundtrack from Nobuo Uematsu is not up to his usual standards. If I graded it, perhaps I would give it a D, but it’s difficult to say that is for genre fans because I am not sure what genre this game really is. It’s barely an RPG and not exactly an action game either. Regardless of what it may aspire to be, what it actually manages to do is quite simple: disappoint.