Game: Cosmic Star Heroine
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Zeboyd Games
Publisher: Limited Run Games
Age Rating: 7+ (UK & EU) / T (US)
Regular Price: £10.99/€11,99/$13.49(US)
Release Date: 14/08/2018
(Review code kindly provided by Zeboyd Games)
Overall grade: I like it a lot!
Cosmic Star Heroine is a turn-based rpg developed and published by Zeboyd Games. The game was partially funded by Kickstarter in late 2013. It released for the Playstation 4, Playstation Vita and Windows in April 2017. The Nintendo Switch port will arrive on August 14th this year. It will be $17.99 AU but there’s a pre-order 10% off discount.
Alyssa L’Salle is an agent of the API and after the introductory mission you are sent to the planet of Rhomu to stop a terrorist group from collecting something from an abandoned lab. This something turns out to be a highly dangerous and sought after item. It results in Alyssa and her companions going on a journey to keep it out of the wrong hands.
The story isn’t anything special but it’s not boring or insulting. It’s the kind of game that makes me want to talk to every NPC due to the entertaining dialogue. Even though it’s a short game I still was able to get a sense of the playable characters and their dynamic together.
It is a turn-based RPG but all of the battles take place on the field. I think this is actually quite nice as you won’t get lost and there’s no need to load an extra screen. There’s also a bar display indicating turn order but there’s not really a matter of needing to be faster. Asides from the stun status effect there isn’t anything to stop their turn. It’s just to show that sometimes enemies get an extra attack or others won’t attack for a while.
The encounters aren’t random, and they don’t respawn. Which is like some other Western RPGs and wasn’t something I was used to. You can explore and go back to places for optional areas and boss fights. Going through the tutorials again I just learned that you can re-fight enemies by selecting the Battle option in the menu, so grinding is possible. Some optional things are chapter specific and thus miss-able. I just didn’t want to follow a guide for my first play-through. Thankfully after every battle your health and abilities will refresh.
Being a turned based RPG we have stats this time called Physique, Hacktitude, Sparke and Cunning. As well as a few status effects known as ailments such as Poison, Rust, Stun, Charm and so on. Your combat moves are your abilities and most can only be used once before you need to take a turn recharging. Programs are abilities that can only be used once in battle and are attached to a shield. The programs may be restricted by a certain Hacktitude level. Items can be used once per battle but they don’t disappear, which is handy.
There is a style meter based on performing different moves in combat. Style boosts your power up until 100%. Some abilities use burst which eats up all your Style. Enemies also use the Style mechanic. Each character gets hyper points which build up to Hyper Mode so on that turn damage and ailment success is doubled. Then in the same battle it will take longer to build up. In this game you can go into negative HP if you have enough style points. They have to be healed out of the negative before the end of their turn to not die and self healing is reduced.
There are four different difficulty options that can be switched in between at any time. I stuck with Agent for most of the game. Heroine level gives the enemies additional abilities and why would I do that? For the most part it fluctuated between easy and challenging, only a couple of encounters I needed to restart. Up until a mid-boss in the final chapter anyway. I’m sure not knowing I could re fight earlier enemies didn’t help me. I would say that anyone with a decent experience in RPGs pick the third difficulty option.
You can keep four characters in your party at a time, as your progress through the game you’ll gain new ones. Sometimes you’ll be restricted to certain ones for story reasons. I only found this annoying in one instance, as I didn’t like Clarke’s mechanics. I did end up switching out some characters I liked as new ones would essentially be a better version of them.
After a few chapters you establish your new base of operations. From then on you can collect new recruits to your cause. This is either done by saving them, doing them a favour or having the right person in your party. These recruits can be your support character, and give you different buffs. Such as a boost in healing or a stat increase.
The game is done with pixel art, which is fantastic. The character models aren’t anything special given their size but everything else is. The backgrounds and various locations all look wonderful. The game is also littered with short animated cut scenes in an old school style. These are absolutely gorgeous and I loved to see most of them.
The soundtrack was done by Hyperduck Soundworks. I’m not sure if I’ll listen to it for long outside of the game but it was very good. The tracks suit the game very well.
As it’s a small indie RPG there aren’t any performance issues and it runs the same in handheld and docked. I’ve had only one bug playing the game, twice during my play through when sorting the abilities screen all the text in it went blank. The first time I just had to exit out of the menu but the second time I had to close the game to fix it. They’ve said that the issue has been fixed on Steam but will need a patch for the Switch. They didn’t say when but it sounds like something they are working on.
I also wish there was an option to increase the combat speed, and/or to disable combat animations. Most RPG’s nowadays have these options. From the mid-game on the enemy encounters would take a while even if they weren’t difficult and it would have be nice to quicken it. Asides from one cut-scene which is a song, there isn’t any voice acting. For the most part I felt this was fine, and goes with the old school style theme but the last few boss fights might have benefited from it.
Cosmic Star Heroine is an enjoyable RPG with unique combat mechanics. As well as fantastic presentation and humorous descriptions and character dialogue. The only faults being the one bug I encountered only twice and some missing options. It’s quite a short game, it took me about eleven hours on Agent difficulty and I missed a lot of optional stuff. Given that, I think it is priced quite reasonably. I don’t usually replay non simulation or casual type games but I think I’ll give this one another go one day. Anyone looking for a short RPG for their Switch should definitely pick this up.