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Game review: Star Ocean: The Divine Force
Wed, 9th Nov 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

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. However, the one franchise I haven’t played before is Star Ocean.

The Star Ocean series has been around for decades, but Star Ocean: The Divine Force is the first one in the franchise I have played. With that being said, let’s see what this game has to offer in our review.

Much like the Final Fantasy series, the Star Ocean franchise usually does not include direct sequels. This means you don’t have 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 featuring two main characters. You can choose to focus on a princess named Laeticia or an outsider named Raymond. Both of them have different goals in mind; however, the two will cross paths and work together to rid 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 a different planet, and he crash-landed there after being shot out of the sky. Raymond is more technologically advanced than the rest of the people from Laeticia’s planet.

Raymond comes equipped with new technology, such as a fancy smartphone, an escape pod and even a working android named Elena. He’s trying 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 funny to see the people being amazed by some of the technology that Raymond has at his disposal. Some people are also confused when a voice comes out of his phone!

Both Raymond and Laeticia will be joined by many other characters that will join your party. Much like other JRPGs, many of your battle allies will all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Not to mention you can only have four people active in your party at one time. This means some characters will inevitably have to be benched as reserves.

The combat system as a whole in Star Ocean: The Divine Force is hit-and-miss to me. There are many parts of the combat that I like, but there is one fatal flaw that ruins the whole experience for me, and that’s disappointing.

Let’s first talk about the positive side of the gameplay. What I like about the combat is that it’s active and feels like a fast-action game. Your characters are free to dodge attacks at any time, plus they can actively attack too. Characters don’t have to wait to attack like old-school turn-based RPGs from the ’80s and ‘90s.

Another thing I like about the combat is that you can change characters during battles at any time. If you think your current character is weak, you can swap to someone more powerful if you are up against a harder sort of enemy.

Even if someone in your party dies, you can call on your reserves if you don’t have any resurrection medicine to revive your teammates. The party is also pretty rounded as one character can heal your wounds, while others can use magic to fight from afar. However, I usually liked hacking and slashing using 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 one time. If you attack too many times, you will have to wait until the AP bar replenishes before you can start attacking again.

By default, you only have five AP bar segments to start off with. You can increase the bar to 15 segments if you blindside enemies. The AP bar will go back to five segments if you get hit too many times.

Limiting the number of times you can attack becomes a big pain in the neck when you are up against a hard boss. Bosses can see everything you can do, so it is nearly impossible to get a blindside on them. When you fail against a boss, you are back to the default five segments on your AP bar, so your attacks are limited once again!

Thankfully, you can use a special move to end bosses at certain times. Still, I found boss fights to be a pain, thanks to the AP bar reverting back to its default state when you die. You will have to make sure you don’t get hit too many times if you want to keep your AP bar full.

While combat can sometimes be repetitive, I do like the fact that this game makes traversal fun. At a certain part of the game, you will encounter a fancy robot named DUMA. This robot is really cool because it allows your character to fly and glide 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 you earning money and experience points. Unlike recent Assassin’s Creed games, I never felt under-levelled or weak when I was completing only the main missions. I also had enough currency to always afford the best weapons and armour for my characters.

Graphically, Star Ocean: The Divine Force sadly 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…

While the graphics are outdated and the combat system is inconsistent, I still had some enjoyable moments playing 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 like the JRPG genre.

Verdict: 7.5/10