Game Review: Star Ocean: The Divine Force
As a video game reviewer, I’ve played tons of JRPG franchises over the years. Some of the series I have come across include Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Tales and many more. The one franchise I haven’t played before though is Star Ocean.
The Star Ocean franchise has been around for decades, but Star Ocean: The Divine Force is the first in the franchise I’ve played. That said, let’s see what this game has to offer in our review.
Like the Final Fantasy series, the Star Ocean series does not usually include direct sequels. This means you don’t need to have played the previous games in the series to know the story. This is because you are usually introduced to a new set of characters and a new plot.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force includes an interesting and epic story with two main characters. You can choose to focus on a princess named Laeticia or an outsider named Raymond. Both have different goals in mind; However, the two will cross paths and work together to get rid of a new and unknown enemy type.
The interesting part of the story is mainly because of the character of Raymond. Unlike Laeticia, Raymond is from another planet and he crash-landed there after being shot from the sky. Raymond is more technologically advanced than the rest of the humans from Laeticia’s planet.
Raymond is equipped with new technology, such as a fancy smartphone, an escape pod and even a working android named Elena. He tries to find other members of his team who have also crashed on this new planet.
The interactions between Raymond and the people from Laeticia’s planet can be quite humorous. It’s just fun to see people being surprised by some of the technology that Raymond has at his disposal. Some people also get confused when a voice comes out of his phone!
Both Raymond and Laeticia will be joined by many other characters who will join your party. Much like other JRPGs, many of your battle allies will all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Not to mention that you can only have four people active in the party at once. This means that some characters will inevitably have to be benched as reserves.
The battle system as a whole in Star Ocean: The Divine Force is hit-and-miss for me. There are many parts of the game that I like, but there is one fatal flaw that ruins the whole experience for me, and that’s disappointing.
First, let’s talk about the positive side of the gameplay. What I like about the combat is that it is active and feels like a fast action game. Your characters are free to dodge attacks at any time, plus they can also actively attack. Characters don’t have to wait to attack like old fashioned turn-based RPGs from the 80s and 90s.
Another thing I like about the match is that you can switch characters during matches at any time. If you think your current character is weak, you can switch to one that is more powerful if you are up against a tougher type of enemy.
Even if someone in your party dies, you can call your reserves if you have no resurrection potion to revive your teammates. The party is also quite well rounded as one character can heal your wounds while others can use magic to fight from afar. However, I usually enjoyed hacking and slashing with Raymond and Laeticia.
The only thing that ruins combat for me is the AP bar. The AP bar limits how many times you can attack at once. If you attack too many times, you must wait for the AP bar to fill up before you can start attacking again.
By default, you only have five AP line segments to start with. You can increase the bar to 15 segments if you blindside enemies. The AP bar will revert to five segments if you get hit too many times.
Limiting the number of times you can attack becomes a huge pain in the neck when you’re up against a tough boss. Bosses can see everything you can do, so it’s almost impossible to blindside them. When you fail against a boss, you’re back to the standard five segments on the AP bar, so your attacks are limited again!
Fortunately, you can use a special move to finish off bosses at certain times. Still, I found boss fights to be a pain, thanks to the AP bar returning to its default state when you die. You need to make sure you don’t get hit too many times if you want to keep your AP bar full.
Although battles can sometimes be repetitive, I like the fact that this game makes traversal fun. In a certain part of the game you will meet a fancy robot called DUMA. This robot is very cool because it allows your character to fly and slide across levels. This makes walking and grinding much more fun than if you had to walk everywhere!
The game is also quite generous when it comes to earning you money and experience points. Unlike last Assassin’s Creed games, I never felt underleveled or weak just completing the main missions. I also had enough currency to always be able to afford the best weapons and armor for my characters.
Graphically, Star Ocean: The Divine Force unfortunately looks bland and boring. For a PS5 game, the character models and environments look painfully basic. It’s a far cry from the detailed and excellent graphics I saw playing God of War Ragnarok just a few days ago…
Even though the graphics are dated and the combat system is inconsistent, I still had some enjoyable moments with Star Ocean: The Divine Force. The story is decent, and the pace of the game never felt too slow. It’s still worth playing if you enjoy the JRPG genre.