A big four-games-in-one experience like .hack//G.U. Last Recode has the potential to fall down at some point in its long journey. As a package of three games that were released separately when they first came out with a brand new experience on top, I initially wondered if they’d work well played back-to-back, as well as how a much newer addition to the series would feel beside the older ones. Luckily for Last Recode, each volume contained plenty of new things and variation to keep things interesting, with each feeling like a new chapter for the characters and story growing in each one, building to a big story journey that felt very complete. With engaging reactive combat on top and a story with plenty of character growth, Last Recode’s smoothness makes .Hack//G.U. pass the test of time well and is an old story I’m glad I could experience in its upgraded form.
Much like the story, the first volume of .hack//G.U. establishes core gameplay mechanics that it builds upon throughout its four volumes. It features an active battle system that seemed fairly simple at first with only four abilities being available to use during each battle, but became much more fun and engaging to play with as I came to understand how timing plays an important role. By using abilities, you have a chance to dodge, stop or delay an opponent’s attack by timing your skill usage to when an enemy is about to do an attack. There are also special attacks to build up by doing enough chain attacks to do double the damage of regular skills and those eventually fill your party’s Morale gauge up enough to do a powerful and satisfying Awakening attack.
its convenient Area Words feature being capable of spawning the right dungeon to grind to the level needed very quickly, even if there are only so many dungeon landscapes to explore. Despite its sometimes repetitive feel, I thought it was a fun system that probably wouldn’t have felt as tired in each volume's initial more separated releases when .hack//G.U. first came out rather than as Last Recode’s all-in-one package.
Aside from dungeon crawling, since .hack//G.U.’s world is set in an MMORPG world, it features a lot of what you’d expect from both an RPG and an online community, with plenty of world building in side activities available for those who want to dive in deeper. The story often progresses when Haseo receives an email from his friends and this constant back and forth between characters both inside the game World and his inbox is a good way to get to know the characters outside of cutscenes. The subtle social mechanic allows you to reply to certain characters as you do things like put them in your party to build your relationship and is an unobtrusive way to get to know the cast at your own pace, with these relationships not affecting the story but just giving a deeper understanding to the characters behind the Avatars. There’s also a Battle Arena, plenty of side quests and a card mini-game to play outside of the main story that are fun things to do on the side and give plenty to look forward to for those interested in replayability.
An unexpected remake with plenty to dive into that will hopefully be played by many who haven't witnessed its epic story saga.
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Did you play Last Recode? What did you think of it?
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