Star Ocean: The Divine Force, let's discover the latest chapter of the famous JRPG series

Star Ocean: The Divine Force, let's discover the latest chapter of the famous JRPG series

Star Ocean

A few years ago, Square Enix set aside a small budget for the development of a new Star Ocean. The series, which made its SNES debut in 1996 after writer Yoshiharu Gotanda, who wrote Tales of Phantasia, left Namco to found tri-Ace, had carved out a hard core of fans, but struggled to emerge. in an increasingly complicated and demanding landscape. The idea was to test the interest of the public to understand what to do with it, but in the end Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness had failed to meet expectations and the curtain seemed to have fallen on the franchise.

Until yesterday, at least . If many JRPG fans had followed the State of Play on October 27 hoping in vain for a glimpse of Final Fantasy XVI, it must be said that there was a small gratification, net of a disappointing show, in the last minutes, when it started. Star Ocean: The Divince Force trailer. The new title of the series will arrive in 2022 - not only on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, but also on PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S - and will be a restart point for the series.

Let's find out everything that has emerged from Star Ocean: The Divine Force at the State of Play in October.

Story and cast

Star Ocean: The Divine Force, Laeticia in a scene from the trailer For those unfamiliar with Star Ocean, we can say that the series is a kind of cross between Square Enix's Final Fantasy and Bandai Namco's Tales of with a much more science fiction drift: although each game pushes a lot on fantasy classic through a clever trick, sooner or later you always return to space between spaceships, alien species and sophisticated technologies.

This particular mix of narrative tones and gimmicks has characterized the tri-Ace titles since the very first episode, conquering fans when the JRPG rarely bordered on science fiction. Star Ocean: The Divine Force seems to follow tradition in that sense. In the Star Ocean imagery, the Galactic Federation has established the so-called Underdeveloped Planet Preservation Pact (also called UP3) which basically prohibits any contact between advanced civilizations that have learned about interstellar travel and those of underdeveloped planets. If all this reminds you of Star Trek, it is no coincidence.

The protagonist of The Divine Force, Raymond, is not affiliated with the Federation, which over the years has changed its face, becoming a conquering force on a galactic scale. Raymond commands the cargo ship Ydas on behalf of Lawrence Logistics, along with his loyal crew. During a routine assignment, the Ydas is attacked by the Astoria, a Federation vessel belonging to the Kenny family, a recurring family in the franchise: in the first Star Ocean there was Ronyx, and his son Claude was the protagonist of Star Ocean 2. .

The Star Oceans are usually anthological titles, linked however by references and quotations that serve to build a richer and more defined imaginary. We don't know how disconnected The Divine Force is from its predecessors, but we do know that it's set in 583 S.D. that is, about fifty years after Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlesness, but also two hundred years after the first Star Oceans, while The Last Hope takes place about a thousand years earlier.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force, Albaird is a semiomancer Back to us: the Astoria attacks the Ydas, Raymond and his colleague Chloe are forced to evacuate the spaceship and end up on the underdeveloped planet of Aster IV, where they meet Laeticia and Albaird. Laeticia is the other protagonist of Star Ocean: The Divine Force, which again implements the so-called Double Hero system first seen in Star Ocean: The Second Story. In practice, the player will choose which of the two protagonists to follow: if it works exactly the same way, the different perspective will affect the narrative, and this means that depending on the chosen character we will only see the scenes in which it is present, but in the same way we will have to perform different choices that will determine not only the unfolding of the events, but also the playable characters who will join the gang. In Star Ocean: The Second Story it was virtually impossible to recruit every single character in a single game, and we expect The Divine Force to be replayable to the same extent.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force, Elena is a companion Raymond's Travel Trip Considering the different perspectives, Star Ocean: The Divine Force could be an even more interesting title. If Raymond hails from outer space and a sophisticated civilization, Laeticia represents a completely different context: she is the princess of the realm of Aucerius, a skilled swordswoman who faces the dangers of her world wearing heavy armor. She accompanies her with Albaird, a semiomancer (at a guess, semiomancy should be the equivalent of symbology in previous Star Oceans) who hides a secret and has known Laeticia since they were children. The protagonists will join forces to help each other, and of course we expect some catastrophe to happen that will force them to save the galaxy from a threat greater than themselves.

The gameplay

Star Ocean : The Divine Force, it will be possible to fly freely The premises for a beautiful story between fantasy and science fiction are all there, but the latest Star Ocean have not particularly shined for writing and cast. Let's say that the two protagonists do not seem very original, but it is still early to express a judgment in this sense and the character design in the trailer certainly does not help: the 3D models we have seen do not do absolutely justice to the excellent official illustrations released shortly after the State of Play. In general, Star Ocean: The Divine Force looks like an old title and in some ways it is, as it will also be released on last generation platforms. It is therefore a cross-gen production that will probably enjoy the usual technical benefits - fast loading, 4k resolution and so on - even if these will not be able to retroactively improve the 3D modeling which, especially in the features, appeared to us strongly outdated.
On the gameplay front, however, there are interesting news to report. Square Enix highlighted one of the most innovative features of this Star Ocean: the ability to explore the huge 3D maps literally in 360 degrees. There appears to be some sort of device or jetpack that allows characters to soar in the air and fly into the scenario, although it is unclear whether there are any limitations on this, for example whether it is necessary to go down to the surface from time to time or whether it is possible to remain in flight for as long as you want. Nor is the nature of exploration in and of itself clear.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force, Laeticia falls upon the enemies from above Are we facing an open world or large but still detailed maps? And how will this dynamic affect actual gameplay? In exploratory terms, flight opens doors to spaces that are not easy to control. The trailer showed us not only natural outdoor scenarios, but also geometrically complex cities. tri-Ace could fill these maps with collectibles, secrets and other content, but in the trailer we have seen nothing but empty spaces.

The possibility of flying, in fact, raises several questions about the other dynamics of the game. This freedom of movement would allow you to completely bypass obstacles and enemies in the open, so there has to be a downside to that. Square Enix has specified that the combat system will exploit the flight at least at the time of engagement: it will be possible to swoop down on unsuspecting enemies and wipe them out in one fell swoop, probably when they are sufficiently weak. Alternatively, you will fight a little on the ground and a little in the air. The trailer showed us a rundown of battles, including against enormously sized enemies that likely served as bosses such as giant toads and fire-breathing dragons.

The real-time action combat system has always been the tip of the game. diamond of the series. Similar to the Linear Motion Battle System also played in the recent Tales of Arise, it often features a noticeably more hardcore drift in terms of controls and functions.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force, flying over the city It seems that The Divine Force has returned to the mechanics of Star Ocean: The Last Hope with a strong emphasis on dodging and movement. The frenetic battle scenes seen in the trailer revealed that the characters to be deployed will be at least three and that it will be possible to control one at a time, as usual, while the others will be entrusted to artificial intelligence.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force, there will be monsters and fantasy creatures Each character will naturally stand out from the others as weapons and moves: Elena, for example, uses the whip to hit multiple enemies at the same time, while Albaird, from far away, he can cast chakrams and spells. It is unclear whether the fights will take place on the spot or if the engagement will initiate a transition to an instantiated battlefield like in Tales of Arise, but the trailer gave us the impression that the fights unfold in a seamless manner. of Xenoblade Chronicles, so to speak.

Ironically, the fights seemed to us the best part of the game also from a technical point of view, at least in these few scenes: the frame rate drops in the exploration sequences are under the for all to see and betray what we hope to be an outdated build. After all, the game will be released sometime in 2022: there should be plenty of time to improve.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force was a surprising announcement. We believed that the tri-Ace franchise was now dead and gone and instead Square Enix wanted to bet on it again. The trailer of the State of Play shows a technically backward game, but the news in terms of gameplay are very interesting: now we just need to understand if the Japanese developer has the numbers to face this very difficult game design challenge, and above all if he will have the time and the budget to smooth out the most obvious edges, starting with a disappointing fluidity in the exploration scenes.


The Double Hero system promises variety and replayability The combat system has always been valid DOUBTS Obvious technical problems that tri-Ace will absolutely have to solve 360-degree exploration could be a double-edged sword Have you noticed any errors?

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