Cosmic Star Heroine is another independent project that originated on Kickstarter. The game was originally announced for the PS4, PC and PS Vita although the PS Vita version was alter delayed to an unspecific date. The developers behind Cosmic Star Heroine, Zeboyd Games, are well known for their love of classic RPGs so it was interesting to see them take the challenge of adopting a more ambitious project after Cthulhu Saves the World.
Zeboyd Games has previously worked on Cthulhu Saves the World which is an 8-bit RPG that harks back to the NES era of games. Cosmic Star Heroine is a more ambitious undertaking for them with its 16-bit pixelated art style that is inspired from Chrono Trigger, a cult classic JRPG from Square Soft. The setting and some of the background has been taken from the Phantasy Star series making for an interesting combination. Don’t be fooled by the 16-bit art style as Cosmic Star Heroine has gorgeous animated cutscenes that detail the story. So the game doesn’t only revolve around animated portraits with text message to forward the story but tries to tell a cinematic story mixed with the nostalgic visuals of the past, resulting in an RPG is easily one of the best classic RPG I have played this year.
The story revolves around Alyssa, a top ranked agent in the super-secret Agency for Peace and Intelligence. The story is predictable when it comes to plot twists with a save the world vibe going on, but it manages to nail down the writing and humor which is what elevates it among other similar games. It is not a timeless classic like Chrono Trigger but it has a flavor of its own that it should be worth experiencing. The game is littered with references and nods to the classic JRPGs and even the past games of the developers themselves. If you have played any of the previous games released by Zeboyd Games, you will love the little throwbacks and references that are present in Cosmic Star Heroine.
Cosmic Star Heroine has nailed the exploration aspect and rewards the player who tend to venture further from their main quest. There are some nods to classic games while other times, it feels like the developer were having too much fun with their script as there are potential fourth wall breaking moments hidden during some optional conversations. I really enjoyed the story and the playful banter of the characters throughout my journey in the game.
Cosmic Star Heroine features a turn-based combat system with a twist. It works in a similar way to Chrono Trigger where enemies can be seen on screen as the player approaches them and then a battle initiates immediately afterwards. The transition here is smooth and without any hitching or loading screen in between, making for a seamless experience in battle. Once the player takes control of the combat, they can pick any of the multiple cast members and utilize a set of abilities that have single or multiple uses depending on their properties. They can also inflict an elemental based damage to the enemy exploiting their weakness or utilize a boosted attack that triples the damage dealt to the enemies. It is an interesting combat system that, on the normal difficulty settings, leaves room for challenging encounters without any frustrating moments.
There is no standard ‘Attack’ button during the combat instead the developers have opted for a skill based combat system. New skills are learned after gaining experience points and leveling up the characters. These skills are spread across the characters and can be used to either attack the enemy, inflict status effects or heal the player. So in a sense, they work like in a traditional combat system but the catch here is that the skills have to be recharged after they are used once, so the player has to decide which skills to utilize at which point in order to gain the most out of the combat system. This also keeps the skills in rotation which means you won’t be relying on a single skill for most of the time during the combat.
Cosmic Star Heroine also gives the player the ability to build their own set of party members. This seems to be inspired from Suikoden except the party members here don’t really show much of a personality or are given the backstory that characters receive in Suikoden. They are pretty basic when it comes to their personality and mostly serve their purpose in combat where their skills are utilized. This is understandable since Cosmic Star Heroine is an independent game with less team power and resources than your standard AAA JRPG but I would have loved to see more personality in some of the side cast of characters aside from the main one.
The game didn’t exactly launch without a host of issues but the developers have been quick to patch them out. At the time of writing this review, they have released close to 3 updates for the game and judging from the changelog, they have fixed a lot of bugs, some of which I had the misfortune of encountering during my playthrough. Thankfully, I never had to face any game breaking bug so I was able to beat the game with ease. In term of the length, it shouldn’t take more than 20 hours if you just focus on the main story.
Cosmic Star Heroine Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: A galactic threat. And one brave heroine to make things right. Cosmic Star Heroine is an exciting new RPG from the creators of Cthulhu Saves the World.
Cosmic Star Heroine not only pays homage to some of the cult classic JRPGs of the yesteryear, it also provides a compelling experience full of memorable characters and some clever writing that is further boosted by an exemplary battle system.