Star Ocean Review: The Divine Force (PS5)

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After forty-five hours, a few smiles, and a frown or two, we walked away from Star Ocean: The Divine Force with a shrug. It’s a mid-tier Japanese RPG that at no point threatens to be promoted to top-tier status or fall so low as to end up caught between Hyperdimension Neptunia Y unlimited saga. The mediocrity of the middle table. The Crystal Palace of JRPGs.

Given the tumultuous history of the Star Ocean series, The Divine Force being just okay is probably a step in the right direction. And while this game wouldn’t make our best of 2022 list unless we make 100 games each this year, some of the improvements made here and some of the systems put in place mean it’s conceivable that the next Star Ocean game will actually be right. It might even be cool.

But we are in the here and now. The year of our Lord 2022 and we have a job to do. We put in over forty hours of this game in five days just to get to this point and now that we’re here: yeah, that’s good. What can you say? There are no interesting talking points or incisive criticism that we can make. No jokes. There are no good jokes, anyway. If it was really bad, we could at least make sarcastic comments, but as it is, we can just shrug our shoulders and move on.

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Star Ocean: The Divine Force allows you to choose one of two characters to play as during your journey through space and stuff. There’s Raymond, who’s kind of an anime Han Solo with one of the worst haircuts we’ve ever seen in a video game, and then there’s Laeticia, a blue-haired princess of the kingdom who fights on the front lines in high heels.

We played as Raymond because we couldn’t take our eyes off his weird golden space mullet, but for the hour or two we played as Laeticia it’s basically the same game, only when the party splits up occasionally throughout the adventure, you see what she was doing instead of him. You’re also wearing high heels. So your choice is between looking fabulous or looking like an idiot. And we chose idiot for some reason. What were we thinking?

Raymond is the captain of a spaceship. He’s like Star Trek, a little bit. There’s even an android playing on a console like the one in Star Trek, only instead of being designed by Gene Roddenberry, this one was apparently designed by Russ Meyer. If you’re too young for the Russ Meyer reference, then he was an author who made camp, raunchy movies in the 1960s and 1970s about stout, scantily clad ladies. We’re just saying that the android is a sexbot, okay?

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Regardless, Raymond lands on a pre-spaceflight planet and quickly meets up with Laeticia and her squire and they soon establish that they both need help getting somewhere and thus if they work together, both parties will benefit. Raymond wants to find other crash survivors and then get out of the backwater he landed on, and Laeticia is trying to prevent a war from breaking out between her Kingdom and a rival Empire.

Along the way, our two heroes meet and join a mostly tropey cast of characters, such as a cranky old man and the obligatory annoying wacko girl, and discover that there is a sinister link between their two quests, and the very fate of the hero. universe. We all know where this is going, right? You have played a JRPG before. And if you haven’t, then this shouldn’t be the one you start with. person 5 it’s right there waiting for you.

The story starts out slow but gets more interesting in the later half. It’s not particularly deep or thought-provoking, but it does at least raise a couple of philosophical and ethical questions about things like artificial intelligence and the dangers of an advanced civilization meeting an underdeveloped one, even if it doesn’t explore them thoroughly. Less food for thought, then, and more Tic-Tac for thought.

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The cutscenes have some fantastically questionable animations and no attempt has been made to lip sync the characters with the voice acting. Cutscenes are also numerous towards the end of the game as everything is revealed, and there is one part of the game in particular where you seem to do nothing but walk from room to room so that the person telling the story story can be told in a different setting for about two hours.

Combat is fast and flexible. It’s fun sometimes, too. You play as a character in real time while all three members of your party are controlled by AI. You can set up combos for your party to use in battle by selecting which attacks they will do in which order, and as you level up you will unlock more attacks. You can also add items to heal or improve your combos, and also later support actions.

If you spend a little time experimenting with your squad setup, you’ll find that you can turn them into a well-oiled machine, healing injured party members or reviving the unconscious without much supervision on your part. This lets you focus on the DUMA system, which is one of the best things about the game.

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DUMA is a floating AI ball that aids you in battle and elevates what would otherwise be mostly monotonous encounters. With a tap of R1, you can dash towards an enemy, or you can choose to dash behind their back and attack from behind. Sometimes attacks from behind will stun an enemy leaving them exposed to massive damage. You can even use DUMA outside of battle to help you traverse the world, climbing high ledges or flying down ravines. Thank you, DUM

conclusion

Star Ocean: The Divine Force is like a comfortable pair of JRPG sneakers. If you’re in the mood for a Japanese RPG and you’ve played all the good ones, you can be sure this one is just fine. It’s okay. It’s comfort food. You know that feeling when you just wish Netflix would make another season of mind hunter And you end up watching Criminal Minds? That. Alone in space.



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