I’ve been playing RPGs since I was 7. My first RPG was Final Fantasy VII and from there I fell in love with the genre. Now, almost 3 decades later, I find myself with a treasure trove of new AAA titles and indie darlings. One such title that hit my desk was Sabotage Studio’s latest entry, Sea of Stars.
This latest RPG is set in a fantastical world where Sun and Moon magic protects its denizens from the machinations of The Dwellers. These are terrifying and blisteringly powerful creatures created by a mythical evil known as The Fleshmancer. The special individuals who wield this magic to fight back the forces of The Fleshmancer, are known as Solstice Warriors. You play as Zale and Valere, two young Solstice Warriors with incredible potential. As they set out on their adventure to protect the world they are joined by their childhood best friend, Garl, known affectionately as ‘The Warrior Cook’.
In Sea of Stars, you travel across an incredibly imaginative world. This is a world brimming with character, stuffed with lore and inhabited by charming characters. The title takes inspiration from a lot of the greats, in particular Chrono Trigger. There are also flavours coming from early entries in Final Fantasy.
One of the highlights of Sea of Stars is its combat system. It has a rhythmic style, where there are several skills that involve you banging your weapons back and forth at your opponents. It’s great fun and comes into play when you’re also defending. With the right timing, you can half damage from your enemies’ attacks. It can be critical in battle when you’re fighting multiple enemies or a particularly deadly enemy who has powerful attacks. On the topic of powerful attacks. If an enemy has a particularly deadly technique you can stop it from happening, if you attack it with the key elements.
As I spoke before, there are elements like Sun and Moon magic, so when an enemy has those symbols above their head you have to hit them with those elements to ensure you’re safe from a devastating attack. This can be the critical save in a battle, especially with the bosses. All these aspects mixed together create an incredible combat system that I never got bored of.
Add to this an incredible score, within the entirety of Sea of Stars and you’ve got something memorable. Yasunori Mitsuda, the legendary composer whose notable work includes Final Fantasy V and Chrono Trigger, brings his A game to Sea of Stars. It’s emotional and bright, but when it needs to bring the darkness, he’s got you.
The true standout for me in Sea of Stars is ultimately the story and the characters within it. The story of Zale and Valere is a fairly pedestrian one. It’s your average ‘Chosen One’ scenario. However, when you introduce the multitude of other characters into this game, the story becomes absolutely awards-worthy. Though Zale and Valere are nothing particularly noteworthy themselves, Garl their average friend is the MVP. Their story as friends is what elevates Zale and Valere and carries the narrative to its emotional climax.
Not only that, Sea of Stars is a game where you want to do everything. It’s that spectacular and engaging a game. I’m not going to be the first to say it, but I’ll add my voice to the choir, Sea of Stars has the potential to be a ‘Game of the Year’.
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