Star Ocean has been in existence since 1996. However, it has experienced a decline following the release Star Ocean: The Last Hope. This JRPG was acceptable but not up to the standards of its predecessors. Star Ocean: Integrity, Faithlessness, which is without doubt the worst entry in this series, has also been released. Despite these difficulties, Square Enix was willing give another chance to triace’s most popular series. This led to the creation of Star Ocean: The Divine Force. It feels like a return-to-form, despite some issues that aren’t surprising given the studios recent history.
The Star Ocean – The Divine Force playable demo allows players the chance to experience a part of Raymond’s story. The game begins with an attack against his ship that forced him and his team to abandon it. Raymond makes a dramatic escape and ends up on an undeveloped planet where he is reunited with princess Laeticia, her guard Albaird. Raymond is determined to find other crew members who may have crashedlanded on this planet. He forms an initially uneasy alliance, not knowing that he will become deeply involved in a war between different kingdoms.
The demo story is awkward and we know it won’t be the same as the final game. It is an abridged version that has some cuts. It is clear, however, that the demo won’t depart too much from the franchise’s offerings so far. The setup is the same as that of the second and three entries in the series. Unfortunately, the demo does not feature Laeticia’s story, so we are not sure how different the stories will be.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force is a significant step forward in terms of gameplay, not only in respect to Integrity and Faithlessness, but also for The Last Hope. The series has always been about great space adventures, but it has almost always failed in delivering a true sense of scale. D.U.M.A., an alien robot that allows party members to fly and glide, makes this seem unlikely. This ability has had a significant impact on level design. Many locations have a high degree of verticality. The rewards for exploration will not be dependent on special crystals that increase D.U.M.A.It remains to be determined what’s capabilities will be, but flying to speed up traversal feels great at the beginning of the game.
D.U.M.A’s unique abilities are also an important part of Star Ocean: The Divine Force combat. Combat takes place exactly where enemies are encountered. This system is much better than its predecessor. Players can control up to four characters and can switch between them at will. They can also unleash skills quickly as long as they have enough AP. The game has been updated to be more like Tales of Berseria. It now features three different Skill chains, or trees, tied to three buttons on the faces and rewarding precise dodges. The skill chains are played in the order that they were created. This means that skill 1 can be used in chain 1, and skill 2 in chain 3. As in Tales of Berseria. However, it is possible to create complex combos that are easy to pull off by setting skills correctly.
Although it may feel a little restrictive at first, the AP system is not. AP can be recharged quickly and the total number is extended by doing well during battle and performing specific actions such as Blindsides. These actions make a return to Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Blindsides can only be performed by D.U.M.A. who’s actions in battle are controlled by the VA gauge. Hold the dedicated button to lift the enemy in the air and release it to unleash Vanguard Assault. If the enemy is facing a controlled character, and the direction and speed of the rushing attacks are changed at the last second, they will be confused and unable move. The new Blindsides approach is better than the one in The Last Hope. VA is consumed to perform both the rushing attack, and possibly the Blindside maneuver. The higher the VA value, the better the Blindside bonuses. This prevents it from being spammable like the third entry in this series. The VA can be restored by only using skills and AP by stopping. This creates a nice balance between offense and defense. Combat will only get better as each character’s skill tree contains many different abilities.
Although the game’s visuals are dated, tri-Ace has made some improvements to their doll-like character models. I think Star Ocean: The Divine Force will be a solid entry in the series. This is due to the series’ action combat system being improved and the introduction D.U.M.A. This will finally make small, underdeveloped planets feel larger than they have ever been. Star Ocean: The Second Story has been a huge fan of the series, so I was happy with the demo. I can’t wait to see more of The Divine Force next year.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force will be available on PC, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on October 27th worldwide.
Demo available on 5.