While the battle system moves at a mile a minute, most of the rest of the game takes its time. First Departure's scenario doesn't drag the player forward very often, which leaves a lot of opportunities to wander around the game world and just enjoy the scenery. Even ordinary towns are crammed with background detail, and every location has a bit of distinctive character to it – they all manage to be memorable in some way or another. The graphics aren't the only part of the game to benefit from a facelift, too. Motoi Sakuraba's soundtrack sounds great through post-16-bit hardware.
If the characters and the storyline were a little more involving, this would close in on all-time great status. Considering that it was the first solo production to come from its developer, though, you can only ask so much. (tri-Ace's writers definitely sharpened up their chops in time for Valkyrie Profile.) Star Ocean: First Departure doesn't get everything right, but it gets enough right to make it an addictive adventure, and one of the better RPGs on the PSP this fall.