Every story needs a hero, and for The Lost Story that hero is Zael; an accomplished swordsman and master of the crossbow. He and his fellow mercenaries take players on a third person action-based role playing experience. Released in Japan in 2011, it was an instant hit, and finally an English version has made it its way to our shores.
The opening scenes in the game see you running through a twisting cavern that steps you through both the basic moves and combat, as well as introducing the amazing and detailed graphics that make up Lazulis Island. Basic movement is through the stick on the nunchuck, while pressing the A key will allow you hide in cover or in combination with the stick, roll out the way or leap over an obstacle.
Combat is straightforward: when you are in range the A key will perform a predetermined attack, while the trigger on the nunchuck will pull up an aiming reticule for your crossbow. In addition to the basic slash attack there is a 'death from above' move, where Zael can run up a wall and smash down on an opponent.
As you would expect, being an RPG, you gain experience points by killing monsters and also level up your skills as you progress in the game. Cash is obtained by completing assignments, and this is spent on upgrading your equipment.
In the singleplayer mode, you have the ability (in some situations) to give instructions to your mercenaries through a simple options menu. In multiplayer you can have up to 6 others working co-operatively, each playing one of the 6 team members making up the mercenary band.
So it is all pretty standard RPG mechanics, with a few special moves added in for good measure. What sets the game apart, however, is the characterisation of the mercenaries. In a terribly un-politically correct move, Syrenne the two bladed fighter is also a bit of a binge drinker who will take any excuse to stop off and sink a few ales.
Each character has their own back story and this comes out through the constant interaction while you're out and about adventuring. For all intents and purposes, your crew are like a band of teenage drinking friends with swords. The dialogue is rich and well done; amusing and funny while they are at rest, desperate and urgent while in combat.
The graphics are wonderful and well crafted. Between the bouts of action you are often greeted with sweeping vistas that serve to set the scene for the forthcoming combat. Monsters and character movement are smoothly animated. We particularly liked the ability to reset the camera angle behind your hero at anytime. As you would expect from a Japanese title, the musical score is original and orchestral.
The menu system for character management and upgrades is particularly well done, albeit in a style that is at odds with the rest of the game (more modern in styling). The only issue we found with the game was in combat. The duality of some of the controls (A to attack, and A to hide), and how they come into play depending on where you are in relation to the opponent, often resulted in you hiding rather than fighting. It can be quite confusing at first and does take a bit of time to get used to. Positioning has a lot of effect on the damage you cause, with bonuses for flank and rear attacks.
In addition to the six player co-op play, you can also join in to player versus player (PvP) online deathmatches.
The Last Story is a very good game, and is designed to appeal to the teenage market. The doe-eyed heroes and heroines wear fashion conscious armor and wield impossibly big swords. If you like the Japanese adventure genre you should definitely add this to your collection.