Star Ocean The Second Story R

Posted:  Nov 01, 2023
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Star Ocean The Second Story R was provided by Square Enix for review. Thank you!

The later half of the 1990s was one of the golden ages for JRPGs. Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7, Persona, and Legend of Legaia are among some of the classics that had entries and released during this time, and they still stand the test of time. Star Ocean The Second Story is part of this list of classics, and now, 25 years later, we are getting a full remake that improves the visuals, adds new gameplay elements, and brings in necessary quality-of-life features, making this remake the best way to experience the game.

Like other JRPGs, we will be following our protagonists, Claude C. Kenny and Rena Lanford, as they go on a quest to investigate the Sorcery Globe and end up saving the world, but like the original game, the story has many different branches. First, the dual protagonists, both offer different perspectives of the events of the story, depending on who you choose at the beginning. This also influences who will join your party and the interactions you can have with them, as well as the ending. I already loved the story it was telling, but add in the multiple ways it can be influenced and I was in heaven.

The visual aesthetic the developers are going for is also stunning. Taking some cues from Octopath Traveler, there is a mix of 2D pixel characters in 3D worlds. There are so many moments in the world and towns where it can just take your breath away. Octopath also had a lot of these moments, but Star Ocean The Second Story R had something else special that just completely captivated me at times.


Then, we have the combat and gameplay elements. The combat takes place in real-time in an arena you are transported to when you encounter an enemy. It is pretty straightforward, you have a button to attacks and other buttons to use skills, but the new combat mechanics make each fight feel great. There is a break system that, once broken, you can penetrate their defense, combo links to use special art combos for insane damage, and Assault Actions to bring in people who aren't in your 4-person combat party.

Each fight is flashy and gorgeous, with each skill having new effects, and it made me want to find more and more enemies to fight, even when I didn't gain anything. I also really liked the "Chain Battle" system, where if you gather multiple enemies around and fight them, the battles will go back to back and increase the EXP you get (up to 3x).


Each battle gets you EXP, which levels you up, but you also get SP and BP. SP, or Specialist Points, is used to enhance each character's specialties, which you can use to cook food, upgrade different skills, and even craft/modify weapons to become more powerful. You want to make Claude's broadsword into a flame sword? Just use the Customization specialization and bam, you can! BP, or Battle Points, is used to increase your spell's power or upgrade skills to make different effects happen in battle. And, of course, you can get more of these the more you fight or the more side quests or guild requests you complete.

All of this put together made one hell of a JRPG to play through, and it was even better playing on the Steam Deck.

Star Ocean The Second Story R - Steam Deck Performance

In almost every part of the game, Star Ocean performs nearly flawlessly. The towns, battles, and the majority of areas can all run at 60 FPS without needing any sort of compromise. There is one aspect of the game that brings it down: the World Map. Going to the world map, which you need to do consistently when traveling, is much harder on the Steam Deck.

Recommended Settings

The first change will be the refresh rate/framerate. Setting this lower ultimately saves battery and keeps framerate at a stable pace. I also wanted to keep the fluid feeling of 60 as much as I could. For this, I decided to set the framerate at 50. This kept a nice balance with the fast framerate, while lowering it for stability, and helping with battery life.

This allowed me to set a TDP limit to make sure it didn't have any spikes. I chose a TDP limit of 7, which held strong in most of the world map, but had some spots that dipped to 47-48 when looking in specific areas. Switching to 8 fixed this, but I preferred the lower drain since it would go right back to a stable 50 whenever I went into a town or battle.

Quality Build

Pumping up the quality, the game looks marginally better, but the World Map dips even further. To combat this, I set the refresh rate/framerate to 40, which allowed us to get a stable framerate in the world map. There are still some minor hitches when turning the camera around if you have a TDP limit, so I would recommend keeping it off here. For the most part, the majority of areas will still go under 11W, but not the world map.


As for settings, Star Ocean The Second Story R allows you to invert your camera, turn off the equip wizard, display Event Arts, change difficulties, toggle switching targets or skipping spell cutscenes, change camera shake and vibration strength, and change different audio sliders. You can also swap between English and Japanese voiceovers!

The game doesn't support 16:10 aspect ratios for resolutions, but it does have full controller and cloud save support!


Star Ocean The Second Story R is a fantastic remake for an amazing JRPG. The new visual style is gorgeous and vibrant, and the new gameplay mechanics make combat even more enjoyable. The game's original mechanics still stand the test of time and help create a memorable, addicting experience that can feel unique due to the ways the story can change depending on the choices you make. And with how well the game runs on the Steam Deck, I can't imagine playing it any other way. This is an easy recommendation on my end!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Star Ocean The Second Story R is a fantastic remake for a wonderful, classic JRPG. And it can run great on the Steam Deck!

Build Score

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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Other Builds
Quality Build



Refresh Rate




TDP Limit


Scaling Filter


GPU Clock


Proton Version

No Forced Compatibility

Game Settings

Anti-aliasing: 8x

Shadow Quality: High

Depth of Field: On

Light Bloom: On

Cull Distance: Farthest

Render Distance: 1.0

Projected Battery Usage and Temperature

10W - 18W

60c - 70c

2 - 2.5 hours

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One comment on “Star Ocean The Second Story R”

  1. There seem to be an issue with vsync setting in this game. I was also getting dropped frames on the world map with vsync on but when I turned it off it was a capped 60fps for me.