In Cosmic Star Heroine you play as the, well, heroine of the story, Alyssa L’Salle, a talented and confident agent. Upon starting the game, you will immediately notice that this game is heavily inspired by JRPGs of old, think 90s era Square Enix games, especially Chrono Trigger. Everything from the art style, to the battle system can be traced back to Chrono Trigger. That’s not to say that this game doesn’t have its own traits, or its own twist and turns.
Going into Cosmic Star Heroine, I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting a very good story, but I was quickly proven wrong. The story may not be groundbreaking, but it does its job of keeping you interested and engaged. There are plenty of twists and turns thrown that will keep you on the edge of your seat, like finding out the agency you work for is corrupt. It’s a classic case of the villain wanting to create a better world for humanity, but they’re blinded by their own ways. The agency plans to control people’s minds, not unlike Project MKUltra, the CIA’s mind control program. You don’t go through this harrowing journey alone however, alongside Alyssa you have her teammates, and friends Dave, Chahna, Sue and more that you pickup during your adventure. Some of the dialogue between the characters can seem relatively… Cheesy, but that adds a bit more charm to the characters, it sounds like they’re talking to each other how you would talk to a close friend of yours.
During the games roughly 12 hour campaign, you’ll come across a variety of organic (living) and robotic enemies all with their own strengths and weaknesses which keeps battling fun and unique. Just like Chrono Trigger’s battle system, you can always see the enemies on the screen, so in most cases you can choose to ignore them and sneak past, or fight them. While I appreciate that Zeboyd Games took their own approach to a more traditional battle system, they just didn’t stick with me. Having attacks that become unavailable until you defend/reset made some battles frustrating and needlessly long. I would have preferred a more traditional Magic or Skill Point system in place. Cosmic Star Heroine also adds some other very unique elements, such as the Style Points. When the game first explained Style Points to me, I was incredibly confused. Thankfully, the game has a built in Tutorial section on the main menu. As explained by the game, Style Points are gained by performing different moves in combat. After you reach 100%, you don’t gain anymore SP until you use a burst ability, these use up all of your SP for big effects. Another very unique addition is the Desperate Mode. Normally, losing all HP will result in characters dying for the rest of the battle. If you have enough Style Points, you will survive with negative HP. In Desperate Mode, your damage is increased by 50%, but self-healing is reduced. If your character is still in Desperation Mode by the end of the turn, they will die. These additions mean that you have to balance between attacks and healing more. So make sure to keep a close eye on your parties health and buffs.
Working in tandem with the battle system, weapons and armour are always an important part in RPGs of any kind. There are weapons, items, shields, and accessories that you can equip to each character which changes their stats, and skills. One thing that left me scratching my head was that after battles your party is automatically healed. This led the game to feeling almost too easy.
When it comes down to it, Cosmic Star Heroine wears its Chrono Trigger influences on its sleeve. It pulls you in with an engaging story, catchy music, well-written characters, a mostly good battle system. The only real issues that I left the game with are the fact that your party auto-heals after each battle, and having to defend/reset so my skills came back. I just felt these things were more of a hindrance than anything else.
I will patiently await any future titles from Zeboyd Games.