April 13th, 2013
Although Star Ocean: Second Evolution‘s narrative is pretty run-of-the-mill, one minor narrative arc did catch me off guard. Early on in the game, Claude (blonde-haired hero archetype) and Rena (blue-haired introvert archetype) run into the seductive Celine (purple-haired extrovert archetype), who shows the duo a treasure map and sends them off to Krosse Cave to track down the reward. After claiming the “ancient text” and defeating a pair of gargoyles, Claude and Rena find Celine waiting for them at the cave’s exit. She asks Claude if she can join the party. Rena expresses her discomfort for the unreserved Celine to Claude, and the player’s left to make a judgement call. Having grown sick of Rena’s pathetic “I’m a shy country girl” act hours ago, I leapt at the opportunity of adding a little verve to the narrative. Rena expressed her discontent, but I wasn’t all that fazed
Later, the crew arrive in Marze and quickly discover that all the children in the town were stolen by a gang of thieves. Our buddying heroes decide to go after the crooks, but Rena, possibly as a result of my earlier decision, split from the group and joined her big-brother friend, Dias. Claude was a bit upset over the matter, given his not-so-secret crush on Rena, but, again, I wasn’t fazed, after all, Celine seemed like a more than adequate replacement for Rena.
The difficulty spikes a little in the forrest on the way to the thieves’ hideout, but unlike before, Rena wasn’t there to heal the party out of every bad situation, and Celine could only cast attack magic. I ended up exhausting my stash of healing items and barely making it out the forrest alive, all the while feeling guilty that I’d, quite maliciously, given Rena the cold shoulder. The forrest and its onslaught of thief soldiers did something which up to that point the game’s copious amount of text dialogue failed to do: it gave me a reason to care about Rena. There’s a moral to this story and I’m sure that you’ve figured it out already: the only way to affect the player is through play itself.