High definition? More like “definitely high”.
After the phenomenally awful A Witch’s Tale, it’s completely understandable that Hit Maker would make yet another stinker of an RPG. What is less understandable is how and why Last Rebellion ended up as an exclusive for an HD console like the PS3. Like seeing an eyelash mite under a powerful microscope, Last Rebellion splatters its travesties across your screen in full high-definition glory.
[image1]Even though its problems run much deeper than its visuals, the horribly outdated and underpowered graphics are a sign of Last Rebellion’s larger issues. Top to bottom, the title appears to have been designed for a system with the processing power of a PSP or DS. Textures look like something sitting in a ditch by the road, and effects—like spell casting, lighting, and damage—remind me of different colored spit wads, only with a lot less individual character and flavor. If you had told me that this was the project of a pair of high school punks working nights to pay for a raging glue-sniffing addiction, I wouldn’t have batted a mite-covered eyelash.
Within the game’s first minutes, you will have learned the entire combat system. From the very beginning of Last Rebellion to its ending a paltry 15 hours later, nothing changes in terms of combat strategy. Each enemy has a handful of different attack points. You choose the order in which you would like to strike those points. Find the correct order, and you get a damage bonus. Use a follow-up spell, and you will trace out the order in which you attacked. Unusual though it may be at first, combat quickly becomes eye-droopingly repetitive, and a few of its other oddities only make matters worse. The system is unique, but so is gold mining with a toothpick.
You control two characters who—through a wacky celestial mishap straight out of some ‘80s movie—share a single body. This means they share all stats and resources, but it also means there’s not really any party management involved. Hit Maker found a creative—or should I say “cheap”?—workaround for the standard party system of most Japanese RPGs. While it looks like you’re controlling two different characters, you’re really just controlling the same one twice.
[image2]All enemies are visible—so there are no random encounters—but levels are made of cramped quarters and enemies chase you down. There’s no point in being able to see the enemies since there’s no way to avoid them. Worse, enemies respawn almost instantly. As with the senseless character switching mechanic, the enemy layout and respawn rate are major nuisances. Your goals are also incredibly unclear, so you often end up wandering around a level refighting the same enemies over and over again in the exact same spots while you try futilely to figure out where you’re supposed to go.
In addition, each defeated enemy needs to be “sealed” during combat, an act that only one of your two characters can perform. If you don’t seal an enemy in time, it returns a few rounds later with full health. The sealing mechanic adds further tedium to an already tedious combat system.
Exploration and travel carry the extra annoyance of frequent load screens. Areas are very small, so you’ll be moving between them often. Each time you’ll have to sit through a bafflingly long load screen. On an older console, this might have made sense. But considering how small the areas are and how unimpressive the visual technology is, you’d think that even the ENIAC could handle it without a hitch. No such luck.
[image3]If you’ve gotten this far into the review and you’re still curious about the game’s story, you’re probably a) not paying attention, or b) really not paying attention, or c) stubbornly convinced that because it’s an “RPG” made in Japan it must at least have a storyline worthwhile to fans of the genre. [Answer key: a) yes, b) yes, and c) god no]. As interesting a premise as it sounds to have a male character share a body with a woman, it comes off as nothing more than a lazy way to avoid rendering two character models simultaneously. The rest of the skeletal story all happens in the game’s earliest moments. Everything that happens after that is just meaningless banter between the two souls floating around inside your body.
Last Rebellion tries your patience at every turn. The combat is repetitive, the story is obtuse, and the graphics are primitive. It’s as if Hit Maker aimed for total mediocrity on the PSP and hit an abyss of obsolescence on the PS3 instead. Some of its concepts might be unusual, but that alone doesn’t mean that any single one of them is good. Ordinarily I’m a major proponent of originality in game design, but Last Rebellion’s broad misfires are enough to send me running for the predictable comfort of Generic Sequel to Series That Just Won’t Die 8: The Return of the Same Old Junk.