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Photo copyright:Square Enix ®

Star Ocean: The Devine Force

It's a fun game, but fails trying to be a Tales game.

9 months ago
2023-10-16
gaming
JRPG

Game review

Release date2022-10-07
PublisherSquare Enix
DeveloperTri-Ace
PlatformPlayStation 5
Playtime38 hours
ProgressCompleted

As a fan of the Star Ocean series, I'm always excited to play the next entry. Sadly, I did not finish the last game (Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness) due to the poor balancing and level scaling. Regular enemies were insanely easy, while the bosses could be very difficult. However, this issue does not exist in this new entry. The level scaling between you and the enemies and bosses is very fair, making the game less grindy and more enjoyable.


I take notes as I play the game for things that I think deserve a mention. If something was not mentioned, it is considered "fine" and not noteworthy in any sense.

Pros

  • Movement speed
    It's fast and makes roaming around and exploring open areas fun.

  • Flying / Gliding
    Feels very inspired by Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

  • Soundtrack
    The soundtrack was good, felt very dynamic with the sense of adventure

  • Marielle + Elena
    Marielle was by far the best character in the game and Elena was very interesting being an advanced Android.

  • Fast travel from inside any dungeon
    Something many more classical designed JRPGs usually do not allow is things like saving or fast travel instantly from inside a unexplored dungeon, especially not late game.

Cons

  • UI/Text
    The menu UI and overall text size is very small and hard to read

  • Inventory/Skills
    The menu is very confusing and annoying to navigate trying to assign combos, upgrading skills and the compare function is terrible.

  • Skill tree/points
    I don't like how the game used same points system for both skill tree and move upgrades. The moves should just be upgraded the more u use it.

  • Crafting
    It's is completely missable. I did not knew until I was 70% into the game and did some online research of what the locked icon in the meny was I had missed something in chapter 1. It also turns out that it's completely useless anyway and did not serve any significant purpose.

  • Characters
    Most characters is not very interesting or memerable. I did not care much about the party. And Chloe seems completely irrelevant to the story.

  • Performance issues
    Even when I was playing it on a PS5 on 1080p it suffer from slowdowns in larger battles, or sometimes when you had your full party in the overworld.

  • Too many party changes
    I don't like when a JRPG changes the party too often. If it's sometimes it's fine, but this was a thing I remember disliked with Final Fantasy 4 back in the day. I like to continue building up the party.

  • Trading
    Sell value of all items are terrible, even for expensive end game gear.

  • Wedding sequence
    The wedding came out of nowhere. There was no proper build up and was very forced and suddenly we just accept to marry a prince without any proper knowledge of it, but we agree to do it just to save time. Who is this prince? Was he even interested? All we know it's a price that's on the enemy side. Did not have the Final Fantasy X "moment" they probably was hoping for.

  • Weak antagonists.
    I can't even remember them, that's how weak they are.

  • End game is a slog
    The end part of the game became just a big boring chore of old bosses with bad level design in between. This is sadly something that many JRPGs fail to design well.

  • Grinding is required
    At the end of Paladurnia, I had to start grind for a couple of hours just to keep up and get trough the Provenience Cavern.

  • Useless side-activities
    All kind of side quests, mini games, crafting etc. is a complete waste of time and feels like a last minute addition of something that should had been more spread out to create the sense of scale but instead it's still just a very linear experience.

  • Not enough space adventuring
    Since this being a Star Ocean game, I expected more space adventure, space travel. This game has similar amount as Tales of Arise in terms of space adventures. Let's go back to Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope where we visited multiple planets.

Overall

Overall it felt like a uninspired Tales of- game set in the Star Ocean universe. The whole structure feels like Tales of Arise. If you haven't played Tales of Arise yet, play that instead of this, it even features same amount of space to earth ratio.


Final score: 6.5/10