Enter a game within a game as you follow Haseo, a character in an MMORPG, on his journey to stop the anomalies that are affecting players in real life. This collection contains three remastered games, new content, and a story that should satisfy fans old and new.
.hack//G.U. Last Recode
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4
MonsterVine was provided with a PC code for review.
.hack//G.U. Last Recode is a remastered collection of the .hack//G.U. trilogy, originally released for the PlayStation 2. Like the original .hack games, they take place within a fictional MMORPG call “The World.”
Unlike many players in The World, our protagonist Haseo isn’t playing for fun. Instead, he’s hunting for Tri-Edge, a player-killer (or PKer) whose attack on Haseo’s friend Shino put her into a coma in real life. As Haseo searches for this mysterious player with powers beyond the scope of the game, he learns of an anomaly called AIDA, unintended by The World’s developers, that has real-world consequences.
With this premise of a game-within-a-game you’ll spend much of your time within The World, but you’ll also spend time on Haseo’s desktop: reading emails sent by other characters, checking the forums to learn about new quests within The World, and similar activities. This really helps to build up the universe, and it’s always entertaining to read a forum post by a character you know.
While playing The World, you’re able to visit various dungeons, each of which has a name based on three words. The words for important locations are given to you by other characters, but you can also combine words to create areas with specific levels, goals, etc. With a system like this, you might expect a huge variety of dungeons… but unfortunately, there are really only a handful of repetitive areas. Combat can also feel repetitive at times, as it’s a simple system involving basic melee attacks and a few special attacks. It gets a bit more complex when you face off against other characters, and Avatar Battles add a shooter-like element, but this isn’t really a series you’ll play for its gameplay.
Instead, you’ll play for the story. These games are incredibly story-driven, and it’s not uncommon to go through a short gameplay segment to reach a series of lengthy cutscenes. The pacing is quite slow at times, but that’s because each volume is clearly meant as a single arc of the trilogy’s overarching story. There’s only one thing that might turn players away from the story, and that’s unfortunately Haseo himself. In the first game, Haseo’s arrogance and nonstop anger can get pretty annoying—but if his attitude makes you wish you could reach into the game and throttle him, don’t worry. He gets better as the story progresses.
In addition to the remastered trilogy, Last Recode also includes a brand-new fourth volume. Instead of being a full-length volume, however, this is a short epilogue focused almost exclusively on story rather than the side activities available in previous volumes. While it might disappoint fans that it isn’t an entire new game added to the collection, it does tie up loose ends and show that the developers are willing to work with the .hack universe again.
There is also a collection of videos that parody scenes from the games, as well as the much more serious Terminal Disc. The Terminal Disc, which originally came with limited editions of the first game, contains four videos that give a recap of the first .hack quadrilogy, along with additional videos unlocked as you progress through the games. These videos are excellent if you enjoy the .hack lore and are a wonderful way to catch up if you skipped the original .hack games.
Overall, .hack//G.U. Last Recode is excellent, with a universe, story, and character development that overshadow the flaws in its gameplay. If the new volume is a sign of future .hack games to come, that will be welcome news indeed.
The Final Word
Despite some repetitive combat and bland dungeons, .hack//G.U. Last Recode is an excellent remaster with an intriguing story and new content that ties up loose ends. Whether you’re new to the series or want to experience it again, this is one collection that shouldn’t be passed up by fans of story-driven RPGs.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great