A strategy guide’s quality hinges on the quality of its maps, walkthroughs and appendices, all of which are crucial for a complete and truly helpful guide. Some people will need a guide to hold their hands throughout the entire game, whereas others need a guide for simply looking up information quickly, such as where to obtain a certain ability. A guide of good quality must be able to do both to appease the wide range of gamers.
But for the maps and some missing enemies, this guide would have been close to perfect. Unfortunately, the missing enemies and even mini-bosses not listed in the guide were so heinous and frequent that I started slapping down post-it notes on each page I found additional enemies or mini-bosses. My guide nearly doubled in size due to the number of post-its.
In general, the maps are very well done. Each story mission begins with a map of the area Rush will explore, and if the area has multiple floors or multiple sections, the maps are divided up accordingly (on the same page). Even each sidequest has its own map.
The only complaint I had with the maps was the lack of plotting out harvest points. They designated everything else, including chests, transporters, mini-bosses (sometimes!), special items, special doors, etc., but none of the harvest points are listed. What Mr. Diggs will find in the harvest points changes each time, so I didn’t expect the guide writers to point that out, but the harvest points themselves were stationary with every area visit, so it made little sense to not include them on the maps.
One thing I can definitely say about the walkthroughs, for both the story and side missions, is that they will keep Rush and his party well prepared. The guide always lets users know what shape their party needs to be in before tackling any mission, whether they should wait until they can command 4 unions or if a couple of small unions is more than enough. It will also make suggests of arts units need to learn or how to delegate the leaders throughout the unions. I was always able to at least eke by if I formed my own unions, but when I used the writers’ suggestions, my party had ZERO problems.
I am not sure if I have ever played a game with so many sidequests before. Every region is jam-packed with them, and as the story progresses, each region piles on a few more. Most of the sidequests are easy to find by just visiting the local pub, but some take prodding of other NPCs or will only activate if Rush hires specific leaders from the Guild. For those who cannot rest without uncovering every sidequest, this guide will never let you down. At the beginning of each story mission, just before the maps, the guide lists all the sidequests that are available. If players want to do them, they can occasionally find how to trigger them in the story walkthrough, but most often than not, they will have to flip to the back section and find out how there. It’s no big deal, because players will have to use the information back there anyway to complete the sidequest.
When it comes to offering strategies to defeat bosses and enemies, for the most part, the guide is excellent. It often does not provide a detailed strategy against bosses, but instead tells of the bosses’ weaknesses and prepares players for any special attacks.
However, as mentioned above, the guide was notorious for flat out not mentioning the presence of certain enemies and mini-bosses. Sometimes, this was not a big deal, but several times I found a mini-boss or an ungodly difficult enemy that I was not prepared for. They weren’t plotted on the maps or even mentioned in the list of enemies to be found. It happened so often that I began to wonder if perhaps the enemies change each time, which could be the case. Although, each time I died, those enemies were still there, ready and waiting for me to come flub up another time.
I’m not familiar with the other writers, but Joe Epstein is a season JRPG writer so I shall assume the others have at least some experience, and it shows with the appendices. They detail every battle formation, item, piece of equipment (including customizations!), component, shops, captured monsters and what each monster can split into. In addition, there is a highly detailed recipe chart for all item creation.
What I really like in the appendices is the enemy gallery. Usually guides slap enemies into a typical appendix/chart with their image, attributes, and weaknesses. This guide doesn’t list attributes and weaknesses (with the battle system, that would be a waste of space), but it did turn the enemy and boss appendix into an art gallery. Each enemy and boss has a screen shot of it in the game and a sample of hand-drawn concept art. I’ve never seen anything like it in a guide before, and it’s stunning.
This was flawless. Introductory material in the front, story missions, side missions (all organized by location and order of appearance), and appendices. I never had any trouble finding any piece of information I could want, whether it was what components I needed to customize a weapon or how in the world am I supposed to complete this sidequest.
The missing enemies does keep the guide from being a solid 5/5, but fortunately for it, the rest of the guide keeps it from falling any further.
The Last Remnant Official Strategy Guide earns a 4/5.