The Star Ocean series is a niche in a niche. These titles are appreciated among fans of the jRPG genre, but the name itself is not as well known as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. When the first reviews appeared in the West, I was a bit scared. I did not expect a miracle, but the wave of criticism surprised me a bit. After a few hours of gameplay, I was glad to see this title myself.
The action of the game takes place during the war between the empires that govern the world. The main character is Fidel. He lives in a small village and teaches local sword fighting techniques there. One day, at the gates of the village, an enemy appears and the inhabitants have to face it. Although they are victorious, they have lost too many people to fend off any further potential attacks. Fidel must therefore go on a difficult and risky mission to ask for military support. He is accompanied on the expedition by a friend from his childhood, who supports him in the fight with her magical abilities. This is how innocently the adventure of our character begins, who does not yet realize how much ahead of him.
Along with the next events, more heroes join the team. In total, we have a considerable amount of them, as many as 7 different fighting individuals. Each character is unique, has different skills, and getting their full potential out of them requires appropriate tactics. What charms in this production is a very extensive development system. The heroes can be assigned several roles, these roles are raised to higher and higher levels of experience, thus increasing their attributes. It gives us a lot of room to show off, but it requires getting to know the characters well. It is not difficult to assign all attacking roles to everyone, but why do we need it, for example, in a purebred magician? It is worth tracing the natural predispositions of the hero and getting to know the advantages of a particular role. You can lose yourself in such details for a long time, and the game is filled with them. In addition to the roles we use in combat, we also have various skills to use in exploration. In my opinion, the key, albeit a skipable element of the game is a visit to Welch. By meeting with her, we can perform additional tasks that she will give us and thanks to this we unlock very useful options. They allow us to improve our equipment or create completely new items. Of course, we get the points we need for all these things in combat. In this case, I do not recommend avoiding enemies on the map, if we do it quickly, it may turn out that we are not properly prepared for the boss or that we do not have enough money to buy new items in the next city.
Exploration is an important element, and the game is not ugly, so we find it easy at first. Unfortunately, contrary to the saying, the farther into the forest, the more trees. We will quickly find out that the locations are simply empty, poorly designed, and moving from point A to point B becomes boring. Despite the large world, we often come back to already discovered locations, which means that landscapes can quickly recover. I am aware that each piece of land traveled and the fight completed on it is a valuable experience, but in some places I really wanted the option of moving quickly. Whether my wish came true I will leave a mystery.
The fights themselves are also an interesting aspect. They are not 100% turn-based, but in order to achieve the best results, we have to feel the rhythm of our heroes’ attacks and learn how the opponent behaves. It is worth taking the time to get to know the system well, to feel when the block may turn into a counter. This is useful because the game likes to jump in the difficulty level. It is not very demanding on the normal difficulty level in general, sometimes it can even give you the feeling that your character level is too high. All these illusions, however, fall when you fight a boss or a larger opponent placed in some strategic place, e.g. in the middle of the road or just before the save point of the game. These fights can make you run quickly to the store for a new rain. On the occasion of such a loss, you will also discover another minor drawback of the production – you cannot skip any cutscenes in it. In that case, if you die during a story-important fight, you will have to watch everything from scratch. The scenes can be long, and the fact that they cannot be omitted in any way – frustrating.
Star Ocean is a bit of a seed with great potential. The story is very correct and develops at the right pace. It has a very accessible difficulty level, in addition to the jumps mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, however, it is an empty world that can quickly get bored. Despite the decent audiovisual setting, it does not encourage people to spend more time in it. In addition, in my opinion, this is a title only for fans of the genre. They will squeeze the last juices out of it and will have fun at the same time!
Portal Rating: 7.0
We would like to thank the Polish distributor, CENEGA, for submitting the game for review.