The Last Remnant released world wide on the Xbox 360 over ten years ago on November 20th, 2008. When it was released things were quite a bit different then they are today: Microsoft was still trying to attract JRPG fans, Square Enix had not yet released the divisive Final Fantasy XIII, and the questions of “are JRPGs dying out” started to be spoken outloud more and more. The Last Remnant was a product of this time; an attempt to broaden the appeal of JRPGs to new markets while appealing to fans of the genre.
Square did this by making one of the strangest and obtuse games of the generation. Sadly, Square made several key mistakes in production and marketing that likely doomed the game to the obscurity its finds itself in today. The first was the choice of platform, likely drawn by Microsofts attempt to bring in fans of JRPGs it alongside other titles like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon was to be (for a time) a Xbox 360 exclusive title.
Much like Lost Odyssey and Tales of Vesperia in the west this hurt sales and adoption. As while Microsoft was keen on attracting these customers, the public was less interested, as JRPG fans residual loyality to Sony was still present. This went doubly true for Japan where the game was a non-factor on the American made console.
However, it gets worse. In a misguided attempt to appeal to Western sensibilities The Last Remnant was built on the Unreal 3 game engine. An engine that Square had no experience in developing on, having always preferred to work with their own proprietary tools. This caused The Last Remnant to be one of the most technically flawed games I have ever seen Square put out - with texture pop in being the most egregious issue.
On top of the technical and platform issues was the fact the game was too hard and obtuse for many gamers to figure out. The battle system while very interesting was largely locked away from players control. This resulted in a game far too dependent on RNG rolls. A critical mistake in a genre where breaking games is a fun pasttime of the fans.
Furthermore, certain parts of the game had massive difficulty spikes that made me almost quit on numerous occasions. I quickly learned was not the exception but the norm. The Last Remnant was so luck and RNG based it was at times painful.
As such while interesting mechanically (the battle system when it wasn’t being dumb was quite fun) and the story was actually quite good the game was panned by critics. With consumers responding in kind. In fact sales were so bad it likely contributed to the game never getting its planned PS3 release.
Despite the failures of the Xbox 360 release The Last Remnant found second life on the PC via Steam. Where as one of Steams few early JRPG offerings it developed a small niche following. This is because while the story and battle system was the same the games balance and customization options were completely overhauled. With the changes being universally agreed as for the better.
In many ways the PC release breathed new life into the original game. Partially uncovering the potential of the original 360 title. The freedom allowed by the changes shifted the game dramatically away from the RNG hell the original game was caught in. Transforming the game into a still incredibly difficult but much more satisfying experience.
While not quite the perfectly aligned machine that is the Soulborne series of games. The difficulty in the PC version was rarely the throw your controller in frustration kind, but always the how can I adjust to kick this enemies ass kind. Which was a major change from its Xbox 360 release.
That being said even with the improvements the stench of its original release has lingered. With its re-release on a Playstation for the first time many don’t actually know the true story of The Last Remnant. As it was always a more niche property. Likely why its remaster is such a surprise to so many.
Luckily, the remaster is actually kind of amazing. In fact I would argue its closer to a remake running on a completely new engine. Unreal 4 as opposed to Unreal 3. Furthermore, Square seems much more competent with this engine as all the texture pop in issues that plagued the Xbox 360 and PC releases are gone. In fact the graphical overhaul is quite impressive. I would say it is actually the best remaster I have played to date.
Furthermore, other small improvement have been added making some of the issues of the game noticeably better. A major inclusion being double speed in map sections at the tap of a button, the top left bumper to be precise. This is especially nice as The Last Remnant can be a rather large game at times. It now feels much more dense, which is only a good thing.
For a decade I have told people I loved The Last Remnant as one of the most unique JRPGs ever made. However, its myriad flaws and obtsuse gameplay have held me back from ever whole heatedly endorsing and recommending it to all but the most hardcore JRPG fan.
That is not the case here. I can finally say if you are a fan of turn based JRPGs The Last Remnant Remastered is a good use of your time. The fact it costs less then a week of lattes at Starbucks makes it an even easier recommendation.
The Last Remnant is not for everyone but if you are like me and open to something different in a stale genre. I would highly encourage you to check it out. The Last Remnant is finally worth your time.
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