Star Ocean: The Divine Force – Review

It’s always good to see something new Star Ocean has been released. For such an influential franchise, whose implementation of real-time combat mechanics did so much to define the course of what we now traditionally know as an Action RPG, was born from the talented group of developers responsible for creating the franchise. fairy talesSO has had a difficult and troubled existence since its merger with Square.

Although pioneering and relatively unique in its spatial environment, strongly influenced A grave roadSquare Enix never knew how to handle one of the staples that became part of its portfolio. but Dragon Quest continues to be treated with all the respect and passion it deserves, Star Ocean It found itself relegated to lower budget games, never reaching the same level of investment and therefore ambition. Until the end of the world.

When the players were faced with the tragedy that was Star Ocean: Integrity and Disbelief And then moving from franchise to mobile Anamnesis, it seemed the end was near. But like the mythological bird that inspired the name of its original publisher, only continues to defy death and returns now, six years after its last console title Star Ocean: Divine Power.

Developed by Tri-Ace, divine power is a game that takes a lot of inspiration from previous games in the franchise while also trying to change what the future of the franchise can offer. It brings back some of the most popular ideas from its past as it tries to implement new systems that never existed on older consoles.

One major throwback from the past is the two hero system. after absence The second story (And therefore its remake The second evolution), he makes his somewhat triumphant return by telling the story through the prism of two very different protagonists, special merchant Raymond Lawrence and ship captain and princess of the kingdom of Aucherius, Laetitia Aucherius.

The perspective from which the game is viewed differs depending on the chosen hero, varies greatly, but the essence of the story is still the same. After his ship is attacked, Raymond finds himself trapped on Aster IV, a primitive planet consisting of several kingdoms and empires, including Aucerius.

Star Ocean: Divine Power

Raymond is soon approached by Laetitia and her bodyguard, Albaird Bergholm, who rescue him from an attack by hostile creatures on the planet. Laetitia and Albayrde eventually agree to accompany Ray in his search for another crashed escape ship on the Aster IV, in which he believes one of his subordinates, Chloe Canaris, to be.

Unsuccessful in their initial quest, but after capturing a mysterious object called DUMA, the space visitor and the local warriors decide to form a mutual agreement to help each other in their respective quests and eventually become involved in more than just a survival plan. Aster IV, but the world itself about a threat coming from a most unexpected source: the Pangalactic Federation itself.

While not presenting the world’s most creative and revolutionary narrative, Star Ocean: The Divine Force is very successful because it sticks to what it does best: its characters. It’s noticeable from the start that the team nailed the dynamic between the fun-loving Raymond, the extremely serious Albaird and the responsible but light-hearted Laetitia, each of whom brought something to the starting line-up and developed in a very welcome way.

Star Ocean: Divine Power

They all have their own goals and personal missions, but manage to avoid falling into (too) predictable clichés, especially with the protagonists. Raymond deviates from the expected pattern of playfulness and responsibility, motivated by a strong sense of loyalty to his team. Leticia remains a bit of a mystery, but her good intentions and sweet heart are clear.

The secondary characters also do their jobs well, avoiding the pitfalls of becoming mere tools to advance the story, to keep and captivate the players. Each of them has its own brilliance and reason for being, something very well explored through the series’ Private Action system, in which the individual interactions between the characters help build the relationship between them more believably.

The main story is also very good, although it ends in the cliché one would expect from a series. Being more attached to the world of Aster IV allows it to develop better and each action has its own weight to see their impact on that world. It’s a bit disappointing that it’s not as space-opera-oriented as the other games in the series, but the mix of sci-fi and medieval fantasy gives the experience a unique feel that’s overall a lot of fun and worthwhile. If only to play divine power.

Star Ocean: Divine Power

Gameplay is another point where the game shines and deserves to be highlighted. Star Ocean was one of the pioneers in bringing action to JRPGs, and this is where its traditional systems shine. The player can place different skills on the square, triangle and circle, with complete freedom to build their combinations, including the so-called Chain Combos, which can be used with just a button and are the fastest way to activate skills, rather than using them individually. .

Of course, none of this is done freely without any restrictions. Each technique, be it Special Arts or Semiomancy (the name is given here for symbology) has a certain AP or Action Points cost, the player will have to go a certain amount of time without making attacks if their AP bar is empty. They fill up quickly and can be manipulated depending on how you fight, such as adding points for surprise attacks, or deducting them as punishment for enemy attacks.

The big differentiator in combat here is the DUMA while using it the player can use high speed special attacks such as the VA Attack which allows you to slide and fly towards the enemy (skills vary from character to character) to get a special. Shields that protect you from attacks, Blindsides, these are attacks in the enemy’s blind spot that leave you paralyzed for a short period of time, or even track where the next attacks will come your way.

Star Ocean: Divine Power

Finally, one of the main advantages of DUMA is the ability to fly. This will allow you to find more advantageous positions in battle, as well as better explore the vast areas that the game presents. Unlike narrow corridors integrity and faithlessness, divine power Brings open areas to explore that, if not quite an open world, make the introduction of this flight system very welcome. It even allows you to access specific areas to find important items around the map (including using its scans), treasure and gems that can be used to improve the robot’s abilities.

They are simple systems, but there is a big difference between them divine power The game is far superior to its predecessor. Even the franchise’s other traditional systems like item creation, the talent system, and the character evolution tree are so well implemented and give you so much freedom of customization and evolution that the experience is much closer to the best the franchise has to offer. .

But alas, not everything is a bed of stellar roses here. For how well the game does the basic elements of a good JRPG, it essentially fails for a 2022 game: its execution is pathetic. Regardless of whether you’re playing in quality or performance mode, the game has a number of limitations that make it clear that Square Enix doesn’t trust the series enough to put as much into it as is necessary to fulfill its current ambitions.

Star Ocean: Divine Power

Framerate drops are constant, both during quests and especially during combat where they are much more severe. For such a fast and intense battle where the game has no transitions between quests and battles, accuracy is key and not being able to avoid it because the game has a sudden slowdown is very frustrating.

It also doesn’t help that even with a beautiful and somewhat unique storyline, the game has very visually limited character models. While most of his characters have very unique and interesting designs, it’s somewhat disappointing to see them inside the game, especially since the game is entirely rendered in the engine itself, with no nicer CGs than the rest. That said, it’s worth praising the quality of the voice acting, and the fact that the game has virtually no spoken lines of dialogue, avoiding falling into the trap of insufferable characters so common in the last two games in the series.

After all, how much you enjoy Star Ocean: The Divine Force largely depends on how much you like the series and what it has to offer. While some have compared it negatively to the latest game in the series that spawned this one, I don’t feel like I’ve seen the same ambition there by any means. It’s just trying to be a good Star Ocean, and despite its serious technical issues, if you can ignore them, you’ll find a game that lives up to its name and should appeal to its fans.

The game is reviewed on PS5 with code provided by Square Enix.

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