Despite its title, Star Ocean: The Last Hope serves as the prequel to the original 1996 SNES RPG. The Last Hope sets the stage for interstellar travel following the destructive aftermath of World War III, in a new calender era marking the first successful warp-drive experiment. The player joins main characters Edge Maverick and Reimi Saionji as they become part of the first expedition into outer space in search of a new homeworld for mankind. However, they soon encounter a mysterious otherworldly threat known as the "Grigori."
The Last Hope pays larger tribute to its futuristic setting compared to previous titles despite being a prequel set in the distant past of the Star Ocean timeline, allowing players to visit multiple planets by way of a spaceship which also serves as their base of operations for party members. In a throwback to previous games, players can have Edge bond with individual party members through "Private Actions", forging relationships which could have an effect on future interactions and even the ending.
Like the PlayStation-era Star Ocean titles, The Last Hope features real-time combat where players can switch between party members at any time to perform normal and special attacks against opposing enemies. Teamwork plays a greater role in The Last Hope, with party members able to launch surprise attacks on enemies targeting other members. Meanwhile party members can link physical and Symbology/Heraldry attacks together to form powerful combo attacks. As party members gain experience through combat, players can choose how to develop their abilities through one of three fighting styles each favoring offense, defence, or a mix of both.
Star Ocean: The Last Hope was originally released as an Xbox 360 title, before an enhanced PS3 port with new features and Japanese voice acting was localized a year after.
This game is also known as Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope International in Japan.