What’s to love?
It’s good and long, but not incredibly long. The structure of the game doesn’t favor excessive level-grinding. There’s some free-roaming exploration and side-quests, but not too many. On the other hand, you can replay some quests, so you can turn it on for half an hour of reckless stupid fun if you want, and save the next story even for when you’ve got time for a longer gaming session.
While the movement and battle system got a little chunky and cumbersome, weren’t perfect, the system was easy to learn. You didn’t have to stress yourself to figure out how to bash through this one. Cinematics and friendly jabber during battles were beautiful and entertaining, and I really liked how clues to major fights were dropped naturally through dialogue. You control one character, and your party members do a fair job of laying waste on their own. You can give commands when you want, or just focus on hacking apart the foe in front of you while your party members do the same.
Character design was great. Physically, there was some ridiculousness to the costumes, but not as much as many games. The various armors were mostly light, with more of an 18th-century uniform feel. Female characters wore appropriate undergarments (no boob-quake) and for the most part covered their bits. Characterization, drives and passions were all fleshed out beautifully, so I really got to care about the peoples’ relationships.
What I really came away with from this game was that the designers were mostly interested in the story, and the gameplay was secondary. That was great for me. The story in this game was lovely, moving, personal, and deeply romantic (in several senses of the word). I’ve played plenty of games with some love-story elements in them, which mostly feel like add-ons, secondary to the main plot. “The Last Story” is a love story first, with action, drama, war, and supernatural world-breaking moogly-boogly taking second place. That was a first for me as a gamer, and I liked it. Crashing my own wedding was a helluva good time.
Side-note – downer. I think there was something in the game that explained the story, but it didn’t stick with me, and it still sounds like a rip-off of “Final Fantasy.” Not a good choice.
Another sticky spot. There is another race in this story, a rival to humans, the Gurak. During a scene of conflict between the protagonist and a ruling-class human, the intractable argument was solved by having the Gurak invade the castle!!! Good plot device, gets the protagonist out of a sticky bit of political trouble and class warfare, and allows the forbidden love to progress. Fine, fine. But the third time in the game that that scenario played out exactly the same way I had to groan a little.
“Do we strike now, boss?”
“How about now?”
“Can we strike–”
“Don’t you get it, minion? We always wait to strike when the Count is being a douchebag to the chosen one. Always. Always.”
Other than that, wonderful game. Being a fan of storytelling, I really enjoyed playing through a story in such a lavish, rich world, driven by the approachable, warm, complex characters and the romantic core plot.