Star Renegades has been on Xbox Game Pass on PC for quite some time now, but now the game finally makes its way to Xbox consoles too. Taking the staple of Japanese RPG combat, the game stays ultra-focused in its execution by sticking firmly on combat, but still offers plenty of substance to situate the deep combat system in a vibrant RPG world.
Star Renegades is quite similar to the excellent Battle Chasers: Nightwar released back in 2015 on Xbox One. In similar fashion, the game places emphasis on a clean and streamlined adventure where players can jump right into the excellent combat system. There are elements of exploration, loot collecting, and NPCs, but these are presented in a clean and efficient manner.
The combat of Star Renegades is the bread and butter of the whole experience, and given how brilliant the flow of the battle system is, this works to the game’s advantage. On paper it is a relatively straightforward turn-based battle system based on the JRPGs of yesteryear, and so for casual RPG fans this is a great game to jump into, much like the aforementioned Battle Chasers. Although simple on the surface, this menu-based battle system has a lot more depth going for it than meets the eye.
Although things operate on a predetermined turn cycle, there is a bit more volatility here as success in combat is all about interception and timing those critical hits. In most RPGs critical hits are a roll of dice luck, but in Star Renegades players are able to execute critical hits with a lot more precision and control. It really comes down to using the right special move just before the enemy turn, and the timing of this needs to factor in where in the turn cycle the player is and also how long it takes to execute the attack. There is a lot of depth to it for those interested, but players looking to make things simple for themselves are able to just approach it as any other RPG, although some of the later boss battles do require a bit of strategy and having a little know-how on the intricacies.
Given its focus on battles, Star Renegades builds its game progression around an all-star cast of boss battles, with the presentation and detail almost matching the boss battle structure of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (and its sequel). Players work through a hierarchy of minions before they can face the elusive “Mother”, the main antagonist of the game.
The sci-fi storyline is quite detailed with lots of characters – many which join the playable cast. Although the attention to detail given to the lore and game world is impressive, sometimes it feels like the plot tries a little too hard to be taken seriously, and tends to get a bit messy by incorporating far too many sci-fi tropes. The worst being the names, as the cast have some of the most ridiculously made up names in any sci-fi work.
Silly sounding names aside, the cast do have very cool character designs and artwork, especially the way their portraits animate during dialogue sequences. What’s also cool is that there is a light tabletop element to the experience as cards collected can be used to enhance characters and their bonds with each other. It’s a light social element, which largely translates to new special attacks during battle.
The visual presentation is strong, which tends to lean more towards various shades of purple and pink to create a cool sci-fi aesthetic. The sprite graphics and animations are fluid and stunning, complemented by excellent particle effects and shaders to make it look like a graphical powerhouse. A minor qualm about the presentation is the soundtrack, which although some might enjoy, largely sounds like sci-fi elevator music. The music doesn’t really fit the intensity of the battles.
Although it has been part of the Xbox PC line-up for quite some time, having Star Renegades on Xbox consoles is a great thing. For most this is a combat-focused RPG with an addictive battle system, smooth pacing, and fantastic neon presentation. If you are a fan of Battle Chasers: Nightwar then Star Renegades is the perfect game to fill that niche.