The Kickstarter campaign for Zeboyd Game’s Cosmic Star Heroine launched way back in October of 2013. With four years in development, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one starting to worry about the state of Zeboyd’s little PS4 JRPG (can we call it that even if it wasn’t made in Japan?). Well lucky for us there isn’t a whole lot to be weary of, Cosmic Star Heroine is a little bit Chrono Trigger, a little bit Phantasy Star and all enjoyable for fans of old school JRPG’s. You’ll also find some references to Zeboyd’s other titles like Cthulu Saves the World for loyal fans.
Our game stars Alyssa L’Salle; you could say Alyssa is the Cosmic Star Heroine herself. Alyssa is a Bo staff wielding government agent who, at the game’s start is entering a building to foil a bomb threat in this crazy cyberpunk setting. Not long after this mission Alyssa and a few friends at the agency discover a plot that could mean the end of the world. Turn’s out the government is bad, not exactly groundbreaking writing but it certainly gets the job done. Cosmic Star Heroine’s story might feel a bit paint by numbers at time’s but it’s filled to the brim with clever references to both games and movies of the past. One side mission involves traveling to a zombie-filled police station for example.
Cosmic Star Heroine’s best writing is found in its characters. One of your first party members is a Gunmancer, meaning she can summon floating weapons to do her bidding, another is a stat buffing pop star straight out of Bubblegum Crisis. A few members of Alyssa’s crew have side quests reminiscent of Mass Effect 2 loyalty missions which add both some game time and welcome character depth. You have a total of ten party members to choose from, a party size of four characters, and they can be swapped out from the menu outside of battle with the exception of Alyssa who is always the party lead.
The phenomenal artwork will have you thinking back to old SNES JRPG’s and PC engine games. It’s never too flashy but it brings a much-needed pop to an otherwise dark a dreary cyberpunk world.
So let’s talk a bit about combat. All enemies are visible on the overworld, no random battles mean you can get the drop on enemies or ignore them all together. The combat mechanics behind Cosmic Star Heroine are all about style. I mean, you literally have a stat called style. Style is gained by acting and varying your moves, if you keep using the same boring melee attack don’t expect to get a whole lot of style. Style means more damage, by the way, so you want that. Each character has a total of six moves equipped at a time. Most abilities can be used only once but can be brought back using a recharge command. While most of these recharge commands only bolster defense for the turn, some have other added benefits.
Cosmic Star Heroine has also changed the way dying works in a turn-based RPG. When a character takes a fatal hit their HP will pool into the negative, if they manage to heal that damage by the end of their next turn they can live to fight another day. If you stand no choice of saving them, they’ll deal more damage on that final turn so they can go out with a bang so to speak.
Equipment is as important here as any other RPG; each character can equip a weapon, an accessory, and a shield. While the weapon and accessory are standard RPG equipment, the shield isn’t quite what you would think. It serves as your armor but also effects what programs a character can use, think of programs as special abilities that you can only use once per battle. Simply equipping the shield won’t be enough to use all of its abilities, you’ll need a strong enough Hackitude for that. Yes, Hackitude is yet another of Cosmic Star Heroine’s ridiculous stats.
While Cosmic Star Heroine is fun it isn’t particularly difficult. I’d recommend playing it on Heroine difficulty which is one tick above normal. This difficulty mode is the first in which enemies will use all of their possible abilities, and the added difficulty forces you to engage with combat a bit more making for a more well-rounded experience. Length wise it clocks in at about 12 hours, which is typical of a Zeboyd game.