By: John C. Mayberry
Even as graphics and gameplay are going to continue to evolve as time presses forward, many a gaming nerd, of which I proudly count myself as too, will always have an affinity for one of the best damn generations of games we’re lucky to have existed at the same time as: the 16-bit era. For years now the influences of this generation have been making a huge return to the giddy excitement of us gamers, nerds, or gaming nerds everywhere. Star Renegades for the PlayStation 4 shows just how much of an influence those golden years still have on the gaming industry, and to great effect.
Players are given something that captures all that nostalgic, smile-inducing goodness of the 16-bit era that still manages to be beautifully animated, with gameplay that is never the same for every new game started. Attempting to stop the Imperium from conquering another dimension, a scientist sends a small robot to another to warn of their impending invasion. From there, the game starts with two playable characters, the party size of which can be increased as you encounter and unlock different characters out of thirteen different classes, so various combinations of teams based on your preferences can be created to defeat the Behemoths sent by the Imperium, and the Imperium themselves.
With gameplay that adds more to the nostalgia factor, while staying unique and standing out from other RPGs, character dialogue that feels natural and is oftentimes light-hearted with a sense of humor, and the ever-evolving environments and enemies are a few things that got me, and I’m positive will get many more, interested in playing Star Renegades. Although not without its own errors, I found this to be an addicting game that I had a good time with. The fact that you never really play through the same area twice is definitely enough to keep your strategic thinking sharp, and wanting to go back for more to see what challenges the Imperium may set before you next.
Animation style – The style of animation is something akin to what would be seen in action anime, which is done to a masterful degree. Intricately designed and smoothly animated, this game may as well be an anime you’re watching, just that you’re getting to pull the strings.
Graphics – Star Renegades uses the 16-bit style graphics perfectly together with newer graphic innovations, which with the power behind the PlayStation 4 is truly a sight to behold. Clear and sharp-looking, you’re given something that stands up to current standards while paying a fitting tribute to gaming’s past.
Sound quality – Sound is clear and sharp, and basically, it’s just some damn good audible chocolate. Sound effects are on point with the action of the game, and are consistent with the sci-fi element it is based in. The game’s music, especially during battle sequences, is also fitting and adds more of an entertainment factor to the overall experience.
Gameplay – Although the RPG genre may be off-putting to some of the gaming community, the learning curve of this game is one that is easily picked up and provides a continuous challenge to players since maps and enemies change and evolve as you level up. You never play through the same area, or battle through the exact same enemies twice, increasing replay value.
Unlockables – Adding more replay value is the sheer amount of stuff you can unlock in this game. Having characters from thirteen different classes to choose from to build your team, weapons and other upgrades to build their attack and defense, even the unique feature of building relationships between characters, which gives players access to other enhancements.
It crashes! – Occasionally, after having your entire party defeated, you’re sent back to the map screen where the game, well…just freezes. There is no amount of times you can press any button on that controller won’t change the fact you’re going to have to close the application and start a brand new game altogether. Good game, but this can be maddening, to many.
You don’t retain all your progress – Although inspired by the 16-bit era, there are features missing in this game that you would have seen in older RPG classics, namely your ability to save your progress. In a manner of speaking, that is. Whatever characters you unlock by playing through the game’s narrative, or any equipment or characters you purchase with points earned, you get to keep. If your whole team, however, is defeated in battle, you continue at the lever you were, rather you’re required to start from level 1. Ideal for the game that Star Renegades is, but probably not so much for the more dedicated RPG fan who’s used to a longer experience.
Glitchy – Noticed mainly during battle sequences, gameplay appears to skip frames ahead, resulting in choppy movement, which may take players out of the experience from the distraction it can cause.
OVERALL RATING – 7.75 out of 10
A great concept for an RPG by way of having constantly evolving maps and enemies, a unique system of enhancing characters by means of building relationships, combining the best elements of current and classic graphical and visual design, with great sound and a soundtrack that enhances the experience, Star Renegades for the PlayStation 4 has its share of well-earned replay value. Albeit this replay value may not be as high as other games in the RPG genre due to present errors that distract from the experience, or flat out put a halt to it altogether. If you can make it through the few bugs that exist, Star Renegades is an enjoyable game that still does many things right.