Looking to play a JRPG where you’re coming in at the halfway mark? Koei Tecmo has just the thing. Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star is a curiosity, as it supposes you’ve already played the prior installment in the Nosurge saga. As a direct sequel, it’s set 5002 years after the events that take place in that game, so right off the bat you’re forced to research protagonists Delta and Cass.
You’ll follow these two former members of the group PLASMA as they set out to rescue a captured member from the Genomirai Church. In order to fell the baddies, however, they need to find a special song to ensure Genomirai’s machines are kept at bay and far away from their city of Felion. Players also follow the heroine of Ciel Nosurge, and can swap between her as well as Delta and Cass at any time, except when the narrative necessitates otherwise.
Swapping between characters is actually quite enjoyable, and offers a layer of gameplay that detracts from what could very easily become a slog. On your way through the game you can speak to members of your party at anytime while you collect experience and items. Battles are random occasions, and quite surprisingly there aren’t too many that you feel inundated by them, as many RPGs tend to do.
Luckily, an unconventional battle system, multiple endings, and the gorgeous Song Magic special attacks make it worth wading through a story that might not be immediately accessible to some. Exploring the characters’ “SoulSpace” is an interesting and refreshing treat, and there’s enough fan service to ensure fans aren’t disappointed. Basically, you enter a bizarre sub dimension where you learn more about the characters you’ve been adventuring with all this time and get to know them a little better.
Honestly, it’s a refreshing change of pace that other RPGs could certainly benefit from. Unfortunately, there’s an abundance of dialogue that does tend to begin grating after a while. There’s so much side chatter that it becomes a little difficult to stay engaged.
Combat is an interesting showcase of what damage one character can drum up against one enemy or a group of them, and the supporting character’s song continues to power up the one pummeling enemies. As you gain experience, the songs will become powered up as well. It hearkens back all the way to games like Lunar: Silver Star Story, with music at the heart of its gameplay, and acts as an interesting bridge between the two mediums. For this, Ar Nosurge quickly became an engaging cacophony of sight and sound.
There’s an interesting world to discover within the world of Ar Nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star, which is unfortunately tainted by the fact that its predecessor isn’t available for players to enjoy before plunging into this one. But if you’re willing to do a little digging, you’ll be rewarded with a fulfilling and unique adventure.