The Divine Force Isn’t Terrible And That’s Enough

The key art for Star Ocean: Divine Force shows the two main characters under the night sky.

Screenshot: TriS / Square Enix / Kotaku

I live only a 15 minute drive from the house where I grew up. My parents left when I was in college, at which point the physical embodiment of every memory of my early years was handed over to strangers, only to be seen again in my dreams. On the few occasions I’ve been back to that street, the memories come flooding back, but they’re perfect for yards that seem small now and houses that don’t quite look freshly painted and kept up. Play Star Ocean: Divine Force Just as disturbing can be: a monument to past comforts that occasionally cheers, but whose cracked foundation and peeling paint remind you that it’s no longer your home.

Once upon a time is, Star Ocean was a solid JRPG series that offered fans a sweet alternative. Final concept And Dragon Quest. It allows players to ride on one. Dungeons and Dragons style campaign within a larger one Star Trek– The inspired universe. It punches above its weight with frantic combat, a deep crafting system, and an abundance of side content. There were multiple endings and roster tradeoffs depending on who you tried to recruit during your journey. Star Ocean: The Second Story The original was good on the PlayStation. Next game on PS2 It was even better. It’s been downhill ever since. So far.

Environments of divine power can be quite beautiful.

Screenshot: TriS / Square Enix / Kotaku

Star Ocean: Divine ForceThe sixth game in the series and the first on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, it’s a marked improvement over the last game. of 2016 Honesty and dishonesty. was unremarkable, incomplete, and had a third-person camera that made you Want to throw up?. Definitely a low bar to clear, but Divine power Does more than avoid the pitfalls of its predecessor. It also offers an innovative take on the combat system, which is subtle yet powerful, with some of the most beautiful environments the series has ever achieved. I’m playing on PS5 in graphics mode, and while it’s nowhere near the best-looking JRPG on console, the lush terrain, detailed architecture, and colorful interstellar sky add an extra spark to otherwise backtracking. In the bare bones search lines full of a painful level of.

What does it mean? Divine power Is it a good game? No, I’m about six hours in, and so far, I haven’t seen anything that would make me recommend it to anyone who isn’t already in a rapidly shrinking group of diehards. Star Ocean fan. For all the game’s improvements and modern sensibilities, it’s nowhere near as focused, polished or refined Xenoblade Chronicles 3or even last year Stories of getting up. For all its wonderful qualities, Divine power Just not in the same league.

GIF: TriS / Square Enix / Kotaku

The English voice acting is passable and occasionally endearing in its eccentricity, but mostly just because of a script that feels stuck, for better and certainly for worse, in PS2-era JRPG Mad Lips. In one type. Raymond, the captain of a merchant ship, crash lands on a medieval planet where he meets a princess named Leticia who is trying to stop an invasion of his kingdom by a neighboring empire. Despite the dire threats in the background, much of the early game is about getting mixed up in illegal affairs as Raymond tries to regroup with his crew mates and mutters things like, “Who are the people growing horns on this rock?” Out of their heads?” That’s pretty boring stuff.

A screenshot shows what the menu interface of Divine Force looks like.

Divine Force’s menu interface is particularly difficult to read.
Screenshot: TriS / Square Enix / Kotaku

Between these conflicting story beats and laborious quests, the game comes alive. Interactions with NPCs are rarely interesting, but they occasionally open up side missions that unlock special items to take advantage of the game’s crafting system. While hardly any of this is signposted, the game’s more esoteric side is for players who want to get off the beaten path and try to piece together the puzzle of what the game tells you to do. trying to

Exploration and combat are enhanced by a mechanical companion called a DUMA that lets you fly short distances or bump into enemies and stun them. Stamina count, meanwhile, controls how often and quickly you can land combos in battles. There’s also a roll dodge that lets you completely avoid an incoming attack and respond with a powerful follow-up. While aiming can be a nightmare, and it’s often impossible to know if you’re going to be hit by something off-screen, it makes combat feel more natural and responsive than in past games. Is.

GIF: TriS / Square Enix / Kotaku

The transition between exploration and combat is also smooth, and helps with retention. Divine power Moving on so that even when something leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it doesn’t last long. That said, the environments you’re exploring, while occasionally looking expansive and beautiful, are mostly empty except for a few treasure chests and breadcrumb trails of crystals that you can use to upgrade DUMA. can collect Enemies always appear in the same groups in the same locations, whether it’s your first time visiting a location or your fifth. And despite the addition of short bursts of flight and the gliding ability, the platforming has been too imprecise for me to ever want to try and reach the hard-to-get treasure.

Characters of divine power see birds.

Screenshot: TriS / Square Enix / Kotaku

So why am I still playing? Divine power? Because I’m one of those fans who was. Star Ocean-Long ago, excitedly going through strategy guides trying to decide which character I would recruit and how not to miss them. I’m hardly the first person to comment on how much the latest game feels like playing an HD tribute. Another story And till the end of time. The sound effects are still the same. You eat blueberries to heal and still can’t take more than 20 at a time. And much of the early game at least revolves around working for kings and wizards in an increasingly nonsensical series of nested subplots. It’s been a nice stroke down memory lane but none of it is as good as I remember.

The developer is Tri-Ace In a big financial holeand fans are worried about it. Divine power This may be the series’ last chance to prove that it still deserves to exist. Some are smooth. Buying multiple copies Try the game and live the dream. But the initial sales figures are not reassuring. At least in Japan, the game’s launch is taking shape. Second worst in the history of the series. It’s hard to blame anyone, both because of the game’s flaws and inherent limitations and the inherent appeal of the decades-old formula, but also because there are so many other JRPGs to choose from. I am disappointed with it. Divine power Ain’t fans begging for a triumphant return, but I’m not surprised. I’m glad it’s not terrible, and that I got to go one more time before the whole thing fell apart.

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