Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is the third installment of the Star Ocean main series. The game was developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 2 console system. It was released in Japan, North America, and the PAL territories. The original Japanese release date was in February of 2003 by Enix, shortly before its merging with Squaresoft to become Square Enix. It was re-released in 2004 as a two-disc Director's Cut version with bonus features such as new characters and dungeons. The North American and PAL versions are based on the Director's Cut version.
With respect to the series' timeline, the game takes place four hundred years after the events of the second game.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time inherits the recurring real-time interactive combat system from the series while presenting many new elements: instead of random encounters, battles now occur when running into enemies on the main travel field or when certain pre-scripted events occur. In-battle, though, there is little change: the player now controls a party of three members, like in Star Ocean: Blue Sphere, controlling one character and assigning the tactics used by the other AI-controlled characters or switch which character they are directly controlling by pressing a single button.
Enemy attacks can target either a player's health points (HP) or mental points (MP). Players will also lose HP from using special attacks or lose MP from using Symbology (or Runology), which is functionally equivalent to magic in other games. Symbology and runology are equivalent terms for the same concept in-game, which was known as "Heraldry" in previous games Star Ocean: The Second Story and in Japan.
Like the previous games in the series, the game contains an Item Creation feature that allows the player to create and enhance a multitude of items. A variety of trades are offered, including Cooking, Alchemy, Engineering, and Smithery. However, Item Creation must now be performed at Workshops scattered throughout towns and dungeons, where in previous games, Item Creation could be accessed anywhere. Once a player invents an item, they can file for a patent, and get money from the profits made off selling those items in various shops. The player is also able to recruit inventors to aid them in creating various items.
The Director's Cut version added a VS. Mode to battle against a second player or against the computer. Up to two human players could compete, either against each other or against another character controlled by the computer. Another addition was the use of "Battle Trophies" which may be acquired by completing various challenges in combat. For example, a player can receive a battle trophy for winning a boss battle in under 30 seconds, or for defeating a boss without receiving damage. Earning battle trophies unlocks bonus options such as harder game difficulty levels, alternate costumes, and a sound test.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time features an in-game encyclopedia. Whenever a new word appears in a color different from the standard text, a detailed entry is added to the encyclopedia. It offers definitions and backgrounds for the different races, people, places, and other general terms. The encyclopedia also includes many of the scientific concepts that are introduced in the game, though the majority are only science fiction.
A Manifestation of Sorion's Arrow... Perion ascendant... This is merely the beginning of the twilight of the gods. A prologue to inevitable renewal.
- Fayt Leingod
- Sophia Esteed
- Peppita Rossetti
- Cliff Fittir
- Nel Zelpher
- Roger S. Huxley
- Albel Nox
- Maria Traydor
- Mirage Koas
- Adray Lasbard (Director's Cut)
- Main article: /Timeline
Fayt Leingod is the main character of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. He is a seemingly normal college student from Earth. His father, Robert Leingod, is a famous authority on symbological genetics, a highly controversial scientific field, and does much of his work on the orbital colony of Moonbase. Fayt is somewhat lazy when it comes to his college work and takes every opportunity during his vacation to Hyda IV, a famous resort planet, to ignore that work. He does this mostly by playing games, specifically, combat simulation holographic games. Sophia Esteed is a childhood friend of Fayt's who accompanies him to Hyda IV. Sophia was born on the orbital colony Moonbase and moved to Earth later. Because she is such close friends with Fayt and his parents, as well as her parents and Fayt's parents working together, she is considered a member of the family and refers to Fayt's parents as "Uncle Robert" and "Aunty Ryoko".
Shortly into the events of the game, Fayt is introduced to Cliff Fittir and Mirage Koas, who are from the high-gravity planet Klaus III. They are members of the anti-Federation organization Quark, which is labeled a terrorist group by the Federation government. Both Cliff and Mirage have a special interest in Fayt which Fayt does not understand.
On the planet of Elicoor II, a backward planet with a technological level similar to that of 17th century Earth, the kingdoms of Airyglyph and Aquios feud. Nel Zelpher is an agent of Aquios who specializes in infiltration and intelligence gathering and is a user of "Runology," which is suspiciously similar to Symbology studied in the Federation. Meanwhile, Albel Nox is the commander of the Black Brigade, one of the three military divisions of the Kingdom of Airyglyph, and is known as "Albel the Wicked," whom you fight early on in the game.
Later into the game, Maria Traydor is introduced, an enigmatic young woman being hunted by the Federation.
The original Japanese release date was in February of 2003 by Enix, shortly before its merging with Squaresoft to become Square Enix. It was re-released in 2004 as a two-disc Director's Cut version with bonus features such as new characters and dungeons. The North American and PAL versions are based on the Director's Cut version.
Adray Lasbard and Mirage Koas were added as playable characers into the Director's Cut. Mirage was already in the original version as part of the story, but she never joined the party. Adray is a completely original character who was not in the original version of the game at all, and was added primarily to increase the appeal of the game's second release.
The music for this game was composed by Motoi Sakuraba, a long-time collaborator with tri-Ace. The soundtrack was eventually released in four parts:
- Original Soundtrack Volume 1 - A 2-CD set containing mainly the softer and orchestral pieces from the game.
- Original Soundtrack Volume 2 - Another 2-CD set containing the upbeat music, primarily the battle and dungeon themes.
- Arrange Album - A selection of tracks from the game reworked in different styles.
- Voice Mix - Similar to the Arrange Album, but featuring dialogue sampled from the Japanese version of the game along with the music.
The limited edition of Volume 1 also came with a box to hold all four albums.
When the game was revised into the Director's Cut, Sakuraba composed a few new pieces of music. They were released in a new album.
The song "The Little Bird" (飛び方を忘れた小さな鳥, Tobikata Wo Wasureta Chiisana Tori?, lit. The Small Bird That Forgot How To Fly) by the JPop singer MISIA was used to accompany the game's ending credits. It was also used very briefly at the beginning of the game, and an instrumental version plays during some cutscenes during the game.
Initially, the game received a somewhat negative impression in Japan. Parts of the game were alleged to be buggy, and the game refused to work at all in older SCPH-10000 PlayStation 2s. Enix blamed Sony, as they had coded Star Ocean: Till the End of Time with features from updated libraries that were apparently not backward-compatible. Sony denied all responsibility. Regardless, it impacted the game's sales, and Enix released the Director's Cut in 2004 to assuage grievances about the original by fixing the bugs and adding features.
In North America, the game was well received among both critics and players, with Game Rankings, a compilation of critical reviews, giving it an average score of 81%. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was the 96th-best seller among console games of the PS2/GameCube/Xbox generation as of July 2006; it had estimated U.S. sales of 630,000 copies, with revenues of $23 million. In Japan, the original sold 533,373 copies as of 2003.