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Cosmic Star Heroine (PC) artwork

Cosmic Star Heroine (PC) review


"Take that as a hint, Zeboyd. Only one character gets to smirk in your next grand adventure."


Zeboyd followed a pattern with just enough originality and style – yes, style – to make this space adventure a pleasure. They demonstrate the uncanny ability to crack new jokes, or old ones with a smirking twist. There aren’t many serious moments, even though some pretty dramatic hijinks are going on, and may be the largest vulnerability of Cosmic Star Heroine.

Acknowledging its 16-bit era inspiration is a strength that enables Star Heroine to get on with its appointed task: The spinning of a good yarn. Better hold on to your space helmet, because there are no rest stops on this interstellar freeway. A short introductory mission will acquaint you with the main character, Alyssa and the mechanics of combat, which is one of its most compelling features.

Zeboyd puts a complete spin on turn based fighting, where strategic use of your limited selection of abilities can give you a hefty advantage – which is most of the time. If you fail, you’re given the chance to retire, or load a save point, so you can grind a bit to create your advantage. It’s smart, and when there aren’t any enemies to run into, you can prompt simulated combat as often as you like in specific areas on the the map.

Every character has three categories to choose from in combat: Action, Item and Prog(ram). In each are eight slots, which you’ll fill from an increasing pool of choices. Most actions are exhausted after one use, and will need to be recharged with the use of a defensive ability every few turns. This negates the melee-to-boredom aspect of RPG combat, and encourages you to experiment with different characters as you play.

The cast is impressive, with nearly a dozen characters to choose from. From Alyssa, the staff wielding silver haired hero; a headband wearing gunmancer (I mean, really, gunmancer); a disco dancing robot; a singing starlet assassin; an alien detective and an insectoid cyborg telepath. Just to name a few. Cosmic Star Heroine juggles stereotypes handily for a truly eclectic roster of heroes.

Levelling your heroes is a standard affair, but stats and equipment take a new tact with a tried and true format. Weapon, armor and accessory round out your options, but take care to pay attention to what new abilities and programs you’ll have access to. Armor determines what programs you can use in combat, while accessories grant bonuses. Need more? You can search all three accessible planets for NPCs to recruit who will give you valuable switch-as-you-please bonuses.

There are a healthy assortment of short, transitional cutscenes in the style of Sega CD minimalistic animations that add to the flare of Star Heroine. Speaking of healthy, the story kicks along at a fair clip as well. If it weren’t for the always on save functionality, it might become tiresome. Dare I suggest that a game lush with well detailed environments to explore provide just a little more chill time to process the rich storyline? That’s what I just did.

It might also give you access to more of those cool team action abilities that are enabled by an item only one character can wear for a brief duration in the first half of the game. Why just then? This piece of armor provides over seventy-five percent of your defense, so to use it late game is to suffer a debilitating self-inflicted penalty. More team action abilities would have livened up the end game, without a doubt.

Hyperduck Soundworks, who I know from Dust: An Elysian Tale, serve up a spacious palette of music to improve the sensation of being an interstellar space spy. Everything is smooth, well defined and interesting. I will say for the amount of alien environments you roam around in, there aren’t any alien melodies. While they’re easy on the ears, these are distinctly human rhythms and genres. The soundtrack follows the cool-spy scenario, but a little bit of experimentation would have gone a long way.

While we’re on the topic of Interstellar Counter-Intelligence Spy Agents, could everyone had been just a little less level headed? I had a need to see someone freak out just a bit, especially when intergalactic peace was threatened – to be enforced, as players will see. Someone had to scream, just to be calmed down to appease my sense of drama. This is supposed to be heavy going, but at least Zeboyd seemed aware that the main characters had spent too much time smirking in the first half of the game.

Take that as a hint, Zeboyd. Only one character gets to smirk in your next grand adventure. Role-playing the super-capable hero type is all well and good, but take a cue from Megaman and Gordon Freeman. When the protagonist loses everything, we really want to help them regain their dignity. And whatever else you decide is appropriate compensation for one’s self respect.

Ironically, I’d love for this review to be longer, just as I’d like the same for Cosmic Star Heroine. Calling it a gem of a game would be bland and generic, so, if you like the look of it, or saw a few minutes of game play, stop waiting around here and go pick up a copy on Steam! Enjoy an adventure, because that’s what this one is.

4/5

hastypixels's avatar
Community review by hastypixels (June 23, 2017)

When you sit down to a game, you should be prepared to enjoy it. Sure, I'm idealistic. It's a thing to do.

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