Star Ocean: Till the End of Time is the third game in the Star Ocean video game series. Released in the United States and PAL territories, its production quality is generally considered superior to that of its predecessor, Star Ocean: The Second Story, especially in terms of its voice acting and translation to English. The game takes place in Stardate 772, over four hundred years after the first two Star Ocean games (which take place in SD 346 and SD 366 respectively).
Although having a number of similarities to it's predecessor, Star Ocean 3 has many elements that make it unique among many console RPGs. Instead of menu driven combat, Star Ocean 3, like 2, offers real time interactive combat, similar to a watered down fighting game. Like in most RPGs, the player deals damage to the enemy, and the enemy damages the player. If all the enemies die, the player is awarded money (Fol) and Experience Points (XP). Unlike traditional games, however, the player will die when the lose all their Hit Points (HP) OR their Mental Points (MP). Players can lose HP or MP from enemy attacks, or they may lose HP from using certain powerful attacks, or MP from using various types of magic (Symbology).
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time features a deep item creation feature that allows the player to create and enhance powerful weapons and items. Players can create items using Alchemy, Cooking, Smithing, Synthesis, Crafting, and numerous other skills in shops located in towns across the world. Shops initially are not outfitted to produce items, but the player can spend Fol to upgrade the shop with various equipment needed to produce different types of items. Some shops are hidden in dungeons and cannot be upgraded, but allow the player to create items from unique materials they have found in a dungeon. 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 universe of Star Ocean is one strikingly similar to that of Star Trek's. The Pangalactic Federation, formerly the Earth Federation and originally the Terran Alliance, greatly resembles a more corrupt version of the United Federation of Planets. Many alien races in the galaxy of SO3 look very simler to humans with added traits or characteristics. But despite this science fiction atmosphere, a form of magic exists in the universe -- Symbology. Standard symbology involves tatooing crests and runes onto one's flesh to draw out apparently latent power in the form of spells, and numerous underdeveloped planets make extensive use of it.
Fayt Leingod: The main character of Star Ocean III, Fayt 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. But when Hyda IV is attacked and Fayt is lost on an underdeveloped planet, the combat "games" prove themselves to have been good practice with his weapon of choice -- the sword.
Sophia Esteed: Fayt's childhood friend, Sophia was born on the orbital colony Moonbase and then moved to Earth. She's a fairly odd girl, at least for the era SO3 takes place in, for she enjoys cooking, cleaning, and basic things traditionally considered "feminine". Despite this, she is rather strong-minded—when danger of physical pain isn't involved—and while she's no genius, she is a skilled student of Healing Symbology. This becomes useful after the mysterious invasion of Hyda IV.
Cliff Fittir: Born on Klaus III, Cliff is a member of the anti-Federation Organization Quark, which acts as an intermediary rather than a terrorist group as often depicted by the Federation government. He is incredibly strong, with stamina that far outpaces that of Earthlings—this is because Klaus III has gravity that is stronger than Earth's along with the fact that the atmosphere there is composed with higher levels of Nitrogen and less Oxygen. Though on the outside he may seem like a brash, brawn-oriented man, it's really more of a ploy than anything. His intelligence of military tactics and diplomatic dealings is very high, and are quite obvious if he wants them to appear so. He tracks down Fayt on Vanguard III, but why would a Quark member care about him?
Nel Zelpher: An agent of the Aquarian Kingdom on the Underdeveloped Planet of Elicoor II, she helps Fayt and Cliff escape from an Airyglyph prison after they crashlanded in a town. However, she forces them to promise to one condition -- they will fork over some of their technology to her in order for the war to shift in Aquaria's favor. She is a skilled warrior both in hand-to-hand combat with a dagger and with Runology, the Elicoorans' name for Symbology.
Hyda IV: A tectonically stable planet renowned for its generally mild, tropical climate. It has over the years become a resort world for people from all over the galaxy, within or from beyond the Federation's boundries.
Vanguard III: An underdeveloped planet with intelligent humanoid lifeforms around 14th century levels of development. Its axial tilt results in extreme seasonal weather, making summers blazing hot and winters blisteringly cold, and the planet's inhabitants are fairly weak physically because their world has fairly low gravity. The inhabitants of the planet generally hang around the forested areas of the coast and seem to live fairly simplistic lives and although they look exactly like humans they have elongated ears. Little else is known of Vanguard III.
Elicoor II: An underdeveloped planet with intelligent humanoid lifeforms around 17th century levels of development, with a few exceptions. There are two large landmasses -- but they themselves aren't really very large -- and an archipelago which consist of the planet's abovesea crust. A variety of different countries and cultures exist on Elicoor, including the mighty military power Airyglyph, the matriarchal theocracy Aquaria, the technological power Greeton, and the tribal confederation Sanmite. Strangely enough, the basic languages of the planet are similar to the language in the ruins of Planet Styx, where the Time Gate resides. What is this connection...?
Planet Styx: A lifeless, barren world with the ruins of an incredibly advanced civilization built upon it. This civilization was advanced enough to build the Time Gate, a device which can create portals in time itself and allow travel. However, the gate is not a mere machine and is in fact sentient. As such, it chooses who accesses its time travel power. Ronixis J. Kenni used the Time Gate to cure a viral outbreak on planet Roak in SD 346 by finding the original virus and using it to create a serum.
The story starts off on the planet Hyda IV where a young man, Fayt Leingod, and his childhood friend, Sophia Esteed, are on vacation with their family. Fayt is son of a famous scientist in the field of Symbological Genetics. For some unknown reason, the Vendeen Empire -- an alien civilization with super-advanced technology that spans merely a single planet -- attacks Hyda IV unprovoked, thus initiating a war with the Pangalactic Federation. Fayt and Sophia escape on a starship -- getting seperated from Fayt's parents, Robert and Ryoko Leingod -- which is attacked also by the Vendeeni, and the two are seperated.
Fayt winds up on an underdeveloped planet called Vanguard III, a planet with technology equivilent to 14th Century Earth, and discovers an offworld criminal plotting to take it over. During this, he meets Cliff Fittir, a member of the anti-Federation organization Quark who helps him defeat this criminal. He then learns that Quark's leader wishes to speak to him and plan on rescuing his father for some mysterious reason. After getting off the planet with Cliff, the Vendeeni again ambush him -- but they escape and crashland on another underdeveloped world called Elicoor II, this one being around 17th Century Earth in terms of technological advancement [though the database isn't 100% sure about that]. Fayt and Cliff are imprisoned by a country known as the Kingdom of Airyglyph, who think that the ship Cliff, Fayt, and Mirage had been traveling on was a weapon developed by the country they are at war with, Aquaria. They are rescued by an assassin-like agent, Nel Zepher, who believes they are engineers from the technologicially advanced continent of Greeton. She rescues them under the condition that they aid her country, Aquaria, with their technological know-how. This leads the two directly into the war between the two kingdoms and eventually into a great final battle between them. Then a new -- at least to the Elicoorians -- foe appears in the skies above...
As Fayt struggles to find his family and reunite with Sophia, he encounters various allies and enemies along the way, and eventually learns something shocking, a plot twist that is hotly controversial among some video game fans (who loudly criticize it as being a "rip off" of The Matrix despite only a few loose similarities).