To finally complete the trinity of Level-5 Inc. reviews, we have the company’s last PS2 game that released relatively late in the console’s lifecycle – Rogue Galaxy; Rogue Galaxy intended to shake up the formula of Level-5’s JRPG franchise, Dark Cloud, by twisting the gameplay into a more traditional, semi-linear format with real-time action combat and a plethora of intriguing party characters to boot, however, did Rogue Galaxy achieve its’ goal? How does it stand up to today’s standards? Is the PS4 re-release of the game worth getting?
Rogue Galaxy starts off with the protagonist, Jaster Rogue, scavenging relics and objects within the Rosan Deserts, before returning to his hometown of Salgin; upon returning, the town is attacked by a ferocious beast, with Bounty Hunters scurrying towards it’s location to claim it’s head for Hunter Points, a point-based system that deems their values as Hunters, with the top 10 being celebrities of sorts. It’s here that Jaster encounters a hunter by the name of Desert Claw, the #1 Ranked Bounty Hunter in the entire galaxy – This meeting is short lived, however, as Claw simply hands Jaster his weapon, Desert Seeker, and escapes from the town…
Jaster’s then mistaken by two galactic pirate scouts, Steve and Simon, who believe Jaster to be the legendary Desert Claw; going along with the mistake, Jaster imitates the likeness of Desert Claw, and with the help of Steve, Simon, and the rest of their crew aboard their intergalactic vessel, the Dorgenark, go on the hunt for the greatest treasure the galaxy has to offer; the mythical lost planet of Eden, said to harbour enough riches to allow you, your son, your grandson, your grandson’s son, even your grandson’s grandson, or even their grandson to live like kings for the entirety of their lives…
Rogue Galaxy appeared in the UK at an awkward time, near the end of 2007, when the PS2 was starting to breathe it’s last breaths with the PS3 already having been released; Rogue Galaxy, however, is testimony that even whilst a console cycle is on it’s last breaths, games can still be released that truly show the strengths of the system, and even outclass games that were coming out for the revolutionary PS3.
Unlike Level-5’s previous titles, Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle, Rogue Galaxy opts for a semi-linear, real-time action combat approach, melding together the gameplay elements found in games like Final Fantasy XII with the combat style of a game like a watered down Devil May Cry of sorts; each character has two weapons, a Primary (Often Melee-based) Weapon, and a Subweapon (Often Range-based) – This, however, is where my first complaint with Rogue Galaxy comes into effect. There are far too many playable characters…! It’s not as bad as other games such as Infinite Undiscovery, or some Final Fantasy titles, but with 8 playable characters, this means you have a whopping total of 16 weapons to manage, evolve, and to purchase for all you characters if you want them balanced…Couple that with the Revelation system, where you sacrifice a specific item to learn a new skill, and you have some serious micromanagement to sort out. Want to upgrade your tank, Deego’s HP, but need the same item to give Jaster, Steve, or Simon a new ability? You’ve got to decide. Mix all of this as well with the Factory, where you can use items to build over 30 items, and you’ve really got to know what you want in every situation.
However, one thing that redeems this is the ease of levelling up weapons in the game – With Rogue Galaxy, your weapon gains experience, as do your characters; however, weapons gain a percentage of their EXP with each battle, no matter the level of opponent, meaning you can go back to the start of the game, farm, and level up your weapon at the same rate as you would on the final dungeon if you’re having too much difficulty. Now, I understand your concern; “Uggggh that removes the point of farming at later dungeoooonnnssss….”, and to you, I say just try to understand – There are a LOT of weapons in this game; over 700 for all characters, last time I checked, so given this, and the fact that you will have to backtrack around some planets, means that you’re never wasting your time. The only time you ever have to run away from a fight, is if you’re getting destroyed, or if you’ve got no items – This, to me, is such a timesaver, since I don’t have to sit through arduous loading screens to get back to the planet with the highest level mobs; despite this though, if you’re still a grind-a-holic, you can still grind those high level monsters for actual EXP to increase your level, or for Hunter Points.
“…But what are Hunter Points…?”, I hear you ask – Hunter Points are that point-based system I mentioned earlier; whenever you kill a certain number of a specific enemy, or a Quarry (The game’s term for Minibosses), you get given points that determine your Hunter Rank from 100 all the way to Number 1, where Desert Claw reigns; for progressing, you also get items and rewards, which is a lovely touch that actually incentives you to actually progress and farm. The feeling of shooting up a couple of ranks after defeating a huge Quarry is second to none, and really does immerse you in feeling like a proper, intergalactic hunter.
Another point for merit is the game’s visual style, that appears as a culmination of everything Level-5 has learned from developing Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle, providing truly impressive sights, detailed and luscious planets, and varied, interesting environments to explore – Married together with the game’s stellar, ochestra-worthy soundtrack, and you have a match made in heaven. Whilst the FMV videos look incredibly dated by modern day standards, the core game still remains impressive, especially when you upscale the game like in the PS4 version (Or with PCSX2; seriously, 6x Native looks amazing)!
All in all, Rogue Galaxy is an excellent, emotional adventure filled with drama, tension, and some good comedy; the soundtrack will ring in your ears for months to come, and plays like a dream, especially on the PS4 upscaled version; all in all, I’ve yet to even being completing the first half of the post-game, and have already put over 90 hours in alone – If you’re a fan of long RPGs, action-combat games, or just want something different, I implore you to give Rogue Galaxy a special place in your collection.
I’d rate Rogue Galaxy a 8/10, all in all, considering modern day standards.