The Last Story Review
The Last Story is a Japanese Wii game developed by Mistwalker. What’s more, with a story written by Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and music composed by former Final Fantasy music composer, Nobuo Uematsu, localizing of the game was in high demand, and thanks to Xseed doing so, this brought to us perhaps one of the better Wii JRPG games for years to come.
The game features a band of mercenaries, who aspired to be knights, with protagonist, Zael, perhaps being the most ambitious out of the group. On one particular quest, Zael stumbled upon a mysterious power which embedded itself into his arm. And with the warlord Zangurak, who seeks similarly mystical power for his brethren, Zael and his home city, Lazulis Island, was approaching it’s doom more faster then he and any of the mercenaries in his group could ever anticipated.
While the stories may seem slightly generic, the game’s storytelling actually excels in pacing; you will not feel everything getting too draggy nor too rushed (even including the time needed for gameplay), bringing forth an incredibly flowing storyline. Every plot elements were slowly and carefully build up, from Zael and Calista’s fateful encounter, to the city’s slow decays and destruction and so on. As the plot develops slowly but majorly as you proceed into the game, the story gets even more intoxicating. It has a wonderful plot overall, befitting it’s name of “The Last Story”.
Characters are always important as catalyst of the plotlines, and the engaging characters in The Last Story did so excellently. The tales of main characters are told in a slow but gradual manner, more so, some other characters even have full chapters dedicated to them! Another part I like is the interaction between the characters, they give an impression of a rowdy, yet friendly group, of cause, they don’t forget to joke around at times, creating some humorous moments.
Onto the gameplays, it’s great, but contain some flaws. In order to shed some light onto it, The Last Story’s fundamental gameplay is almost equivalent to some MMORPGs, with slight changes like how the skills work and stealth system. In basic battles, it is immensely simple, you can move Zael around and in order to attack an enemy, you can just move your character towards it and he will automatically attack. While this may seems pretty convenient, it is actually more annoying then convenient. Especially when Zael are facing hordes of enemies, it’s get very difficult to target. If one of your allies is dead and you’re on your way to revive him/her, you will literally take forever to get there if there are a large group of enemies blocking your way, due to the auto-attacking system. You can however set the attack to manual in the options. Manual attacking decreases damage though, which I had no idea what’s the logic behind it.
Other then that, the other aspect of the battle system is fine. Zael has the power to “gather” opponents and to “revive” aforementioned. By “gather”, Zael can essentially be a tank, soaking all of the damage towards him where your other weaker characters like the mages can cast their magic without interruption. Zael also has a skill bar, which he can use it for several strategic skills, including a powerful swipe slash from a cover, an AOE attack which removes status effect in the area and so on. In your party, your allies will be controlled via AI, though you can issue specific commands if you like, in doing so, they will be more faster in executing a particular skill, though this will cost you a portion of your skill bar.
The Last Story is advertised as a stealth game, but in my opinion, it actually doesn’t even play a big part in the game. When fighting against tough bosses, you would be too busy trying to fend off enemies attack and tanking instead of just hiding. In fact, I think there are only two or three bosses in the whole game where I only made full use of it, though there are some parts of the story which forces you to use it too.
Or is it because I’m bad at hiding in general? Well, knights don’t hide anyway.
Though a good part of The Last Story’s gameplay is actually the boss fights itself. You’re not granted with the freedom to hide-and-attack, especially for some big monster-type bosses like the Kraken, that much is understandable. In contrast, hiding is replaced by brainstorming. Each boss has a certain effective ways to beat down, whether or not it’s using some specific skills, or to knock down a fire blazer, or to target specific location of the enemy and so on. It’s all up to you to figure out the perfect tactics to defeat your foes. Fighting the bosses are like figuring out a puzzle within a time limit, and it’s actually pretty fun.
Although the designs of the dungeons and other locations are especially linear, I like the Lazulis Island itself for it’s expansive free roam area. For a linear navigating game like this, the city in contrast is big; each section of the city is always bustling with people. During the early parts of the game, you already gained access to the massive amount of sidequests available on in the city.
The visuals in The Last Story are pretty good for a Wii game, in fact, I think it might be one of the best looking Wii game. Overall, character designs are pretty and the backgrounds look good, despite muddy. Some parts of the game like the stargazing scene is exceptionally beautiful. Though with such quality, it would actually look best in a 720p HD resolution, something which the normal Wii with 480p native resolution couldn’t support. Perhaps the new Wii U might be able to do something about that.
With the game soundtracks composed by the infamous Nobuo Uematsu, of cause, they don’t disappoint. The intro’s somewhat sad and mellow tone already captured my interest as soon as I was on the start menu screen. Aside from that, the game certainly has a few other notable tracks too, for example, the arena song, which gives the impression of a Spanish bull fight. However, overall, even though it’s certainly high quality, I think the soundtrack falls a few levels short compared to some of his older musical works.
The battle system, while unique from other RPG games, certainly has it’s own fair share of drawbacks. The game had other minor flaws as well so it definitely isn’t a perfect game Even so, The Last Story is still a good game nonetheless and I’m sure fans of RPG will still like it.