There aren't many JRPGs on PC, and on the surface it seems like The Last Remnant fills that gap to a T. The problems, and there are many of them, appear when you look deeper at the game; for most people, this will likely happen upon reaching a boss battle that seems (and may potentially be) impossible to win. If you can get past that, though, it can be a fun experience.
The first major problem with The Last Remnant is the battle system. Some of the decisions made by Square Enix are impossible to understand, as if battle mechanics were decided by throwing darts at a dart board.
To participate in battles, you need to create unions. These groups of up to 5 characters fight as a single entity (for the most part) in combat. When you take these unions into combat, you are given up to 5 generic commands (like an all-out attack, or healing, or inflicting ailments) which feature appropriate ability usage from each unit in the union. The issue is that you have no control over the specific abilities as well as no control over the general commands you give to your unions, leading to situations where you cannot use the command or specific ability you want for no reason at all.
Secondly: QTEs. Like some other modern turn-based RPGs such as Paper Mario, The Last Remnant uses quick-time events (QTEs) to keep the player engaged. In The Last Remnant, each QTE is a single press of one of 5 buttons, with the other change-up being how fast you must press it. Compare this to a game like Paper Mario, where abilities and attacks will generally each have their own unique interaction, and it's easy to see how tedious The Last Remnants QTEs can be.
Compounding upon the lack of variety and utilization of skill is the fact that QTEs in The Last Remnant can have an inordinate impact on the outcome of battles. Hitting QTEs successfully has several impacts on battle: 1) The next unit in the union has its turn come immediately after a successful QTE. 2) Hitting several QTEs in a row leads to automatic critical hits for the rest of the units in the union, provided you hit their QTEs as well. 3) Units can "reconsider" their attacks, changing what attack they are doing to what they feel is more appropriate, which is almost always a better option than their original one.
Worst of all, QTEs are random. They don't always show up, and you have no impact on when they do. Then, due to how impactful QTEs are, a battle can swing simply on whether or not QTEs show up.
Then there's the issue of leveling. The game gives you no information on how its non-traditional leveling works. Your units gain stats, new or upgraded abilities and your "Battle Rank" (BR) goes up every once in a while after battle. However, the game doesn't tell you that your BR is the measure of *the opponents strength*, where a higher BR makes enemies stronger in an attempt to have the game have a smooth difficulty curve. It also doesn't tell you that your BR isn't directly tied to your characters' strength, and you can use meta knowledge to have your BR stay low relative to your characters' power by fighting only the efficient battles. Unfortunately for average players (myself included), this leads to situations where you may fight most battles you come across and *hurt* yourself in the long run. And, again, due to lack of information, a player that falls into this pit won't know about this problem until they reach an impossible fight and search the internet for help, only to find out that everything they've done in the game was wrong and they may very well have to restart the entire game to fix it.
As you can see, there are many problems (and more I couldn't fit in this review) with The Last Remnant. It is a strategy game with a distinct lack of strategy in places where strategy should shine, and an RPG where how one levels is completely unclear to those who don't metagame. A dedicated player who researches can get past these problems, but the average person will become stuck and frustrated, thus I cannot recommend The Last Remnant.
Posted: November 26th, 2013