And so we finished the last Star Ocean game we will ever play (and probably the last Star Ocean game ever because TriAce is bankrupt again.) Warning: I curse like a drunk sailor because I forced myself to finish this game. 🤪
I’ve wanted to quit this game so many times and if it wasn’t for Kanade, I honestly probably would have?? There’s basically nothing good to write about this game other than being able to fly everywhere (almost) with D.U.M.A.-chan. Instead I will focus on why this game is bad! Kanade will have his thoughts in blue as usual.
I wanted to quit the game repeatedly too, but even though the game was incredibly bad I guess since it maintained the barest minimal level of playability we were able to keep slogging through it rather than hitting some kind of singular moment that eventually pushes us over the edge into ragequitting.
While an improvement over Star Ocean 4, which forced you into trash battle every 2 steps, the battles in this game were a generic combination of “headbutt your character into the enemy over and over as your AP recovers.”
Just like with the Tales games (and probably like we would’ve had in SO4 had we not cheated), I again cannot comprehend making an RPG with action combat and AI party members that can’t handle boss mechanics. They inevitably bog down into fights where the player can see that obviously telegraphed (instakill) boss attacks and avoid them while the party constantly runs into them and dies. The combat & AI was extremely unintuitive in this game since I think it expects you to main a character rather than playing as each of the members in your current party setup. The reason here is because the game requires you to manually set up all of your combo strings for each of the buttons (like what happens if you spam X or if you hold O) but player controlled characters can do significantly longer strings than AI characters because they have a larger pool of AP to work with (I also am not sure if the game ever explained this, or if it did it was so early in the game that the player doesn’t understand this concept, or if I really did have to read about this online when I googled “star ocean divine force builds”). What this means is that you need to set up AI characters radically differently than you would the PC since many combinations of moves simply can’t be performed by them. So then this in turn makes it annoying when you feel like you need to manually control your other party members because their combos are all essentially gimped compared to what you can do on a player-controlled build.
The other thing is, the entire skill tree system and skills system was confusing as fuck. None of the skills made any sense to me as to which one was better than the other. The skill points were also all over the place and basically I probably gimped myself by yoloing my entire build for every character only to find out later, after googling, that each character only had 1-2 skills that were worth using. On that note, I didn’t even know Nina had a raise skill because it was randomly buried in her skill tree and once I figured out where it was it ended up being the most used skill in the game since the AI is so terrible they would constantly stand in AOEs and die. So basically by the end of the game where bosses would one shot characters from full HP, Kanade would run around as Nina, do her idiotic mahou shoujo dance and raise people to 80% HP – over and over. That’s what the final boss battles boiled down. But oh I guess if you overlevel yourself because for some reason you love to grind trash, you could probably have an easier time than we did – where by the end of the game our characters were only level 68 ~ 72.
The character builds/leveling system is up there with FFVIII in terms of being one of the worst ones we’ve encountered here (ok and Zesteria, but that one was so galaxy brained complex that nobody seems to even be able to figure out how it actually works.) Along with being very overcomplicated and unintuitive, it’s biggest problem is that like FFVIII, the possibilities for builds range from “unplayable trap build” to “utterly trivializes everything.” As you start the game and level up, you can choose to spend your skill points on unlocking skills or stat increases on the character’s skill tree or to increase the levels of your unlocked skills. The first point of confusion is that every character’s skill tree is laid out in a decorative pattern rather than in a straightforward way based on “obvious” themes or synergies, so there’s no intuitive way for a starting player to decide which “direction” to start unlocking stuff. And to make matters worse, there’s no way to respec your characters once you inevitably realize that you’ve wasted enormous amounts of SP on skills that you now realize are pointless (and don’t forget the opposite problem of “oops damn if only I took Laetiticia’s passive XP buff and Albaird’s passive gold buff immediately and had that running for the next 40 hours.”)
The next dirty secret of the skill tree (again, from googling around for builds) is that for the most part, despite that big elaborate skill tree, most characters really only have about two or three useful attacks, three passive skills, and one or two support skills worth unlocking (out of like probably a dozen attacks, ten or so passive skills, and a half-dozen support skills). So the correct thing to do is actually to make a beeline to those few useful skills and then spent your SP on leveling those up first. Then once that’s done, you can either unlock the random stat increases (which is also a tedious and boring process to constantly keep clicking on them) or level up your crafting skills so you don’t have to spam items as long to max those out. Of course, not like you’d know any of this without reading about it ahead of time!
So the game had a crafting system but it was some bullshit rng where you had to grind making 1 item at a time (followed by force skipping the animation cut scene after each one) until you were high enough level to make anything worthwhile. I was bored at the end of the game and needed some accessories so I started randomly crafting garbage in a dungeon. Fortunately it made me accessories that allow me to “take one death” which I would constantly equip on Nina because she would always eat shit and she needed to be alive to raise the other AIs that ate shit too. ಠ_ಠ The worst part of the whole thing is they tied Welsh to the crafting system, so while I wanted to see more funny Welsh stuff, you really couldn’t unless you continued to level crafting and would return to her house in whatever random town she was in to take her next quest.
This game had possibly the most idiotic crafting system I’ve encountered as well. It is first off incredibly opaque, where you need to use a guide to find out which characters are capable of crafting which items, which materials are used to craft which items, and which stats on which items can/should be transfered to other items when used as a crafting ingredient. It’s also not really worth crafting items until you grind your characters up to level 10 in their preferred crafting skills (and not realy worth crafting anything except for the endgame gear), but like with most games that use a “improve your crafting skill by using it” system (like Skyrim) you never will get even remotely close to maxing out a crafting skill through “natural” use of the skill. As a test, we had Albaird craft using every single ingredient we had in our inventory at the end of the game and he gained a whopping two levels, so in order to actually use crafting you will need to do the incredibly boring gameplay loop of buying a stack of materials and blowing through them over and over and over and over until you finally give up and just use your SP.
The story felt like some Nier Automata ripoff (but what doesn’t these days?) Having people constantly swap bodies in real life while their “data and brain” are in the network??? So original, I have never seen this plotline before!!!11 Because of that though, we had a serious Seymour problem with the final boss who I think we fought at least 5 times, each time him jumping to a new body. The other problem was this is a STAR OCEAN game but we spent the entire first half of the game basically dealing with
international intrigue over kingdom drama that I completely forgot it was a star ocean game. Eventually though we took our earth crew into space and it became Star Ocean-y and they even brought in a KENNY descendant to remind us that this is in fact a sequel in the Star Ocean series universe. Unfortunately by then I no longer cared and I just wanted it to be over with.
First off, the story is a complete mess. We spend like 80% of the game on Generic European High Fantasy Planet, and a large portion of the story here is entirely about the conflicts between the kingdoms there rather than about Ray trying to find his crew or a way to get off the planet. It’s to the point that we joked that you could remove him from the game because he’s so irrelevant to the first segment of the game and then when Marielle joins later on she does a better job of integrating the sci-fi elements of the story than he did. Now that said, I eventually understood WHY the story is set up the way that it was…during the literal ending cutscene when Marielle explains “see, this is why we have the Prime Directive, so that some medieval king can’t decide that he wants to join the Borg in an attempt to try to bend them to his will.”
At first glance the graphics appeared to be nice when I played the demo. However when I played the full game there was a lot of glaring problems. First of all, everyone looked like some weird year 2010 Korean MMO doll face which worked for the petite characters like Nina and Leticia but looked incredibly awkward on male characters like Aldberd and Ray. The lighting was also horrendous and the only way I could make it look SLIGHTLY less shitty was by using filters in OBS while I was streaming – aka I would not be able to change it if I was playing on my TV. The text in the game was insanely tiny so again if I was playing on a TV I would never be able to read anything so it was good I was playing on my PC monitor which was only 2 feet from my face. And finally my biggest graphical pet peeve was all the copy pasted maps. They were giant maps full of copy pasted castles, grass, towns. They were huge for the sake of being huge but 80% of the map was empty. Enemies were only in certain sections of the GIANT field and the castle ended up becoming a weird copy pasta maze that gave me war flashbacks to Tales of the Abyss. 💀
Yeah so as an FYI, the top guide on Steam for this game isn’t the achievement walkthrough, isn’t the general hints and tips, isn’t the crafting list, it’s how to install and set up Reshade in order to make the game not look like total shit. Our other big pet peeve with the graphics is that the characters animations and gestures are so jarring. They’ll be talking in a cutscene but also randomly jiggling in various places and their hair will be blowing in the wind even though they’re indoors. Like every character has some default loop that always plays regardless of situation.
Also, this is a personal pet peeve, but why the fuck does Nina’s character design feel like a ripoff Atelier Ryza?? They were even both alchemists and shit wtf. ಠ_ಠ
So one reason why I actually ENJOYED Star Ocean 4 (I know surprise!) were the character interactions and the private actions. Yes the battle system in that game was dog shit but you know I was laughing my ass off at all the Edgy no Ecchi scenes. This game however paled in comparison. All the private actions were just NPCs standing in place and talking with barely any movement or facial expressions. They attempted to make it seem like there’s a “hint” of romance between Leticia and Ray but Ray is such a boring himbo protagonist that I really just didn’t see it at all. In fact I felt more connection between Leticia and Albaird but because I stupidly made the mistake of starting the game as Ray, I never got to see her side of the story. This is such a shame because it looks like she actually has quite a lot of backstory for her while Ray basically had absolutely nothing about his past or feelings or anything from start to finish. There was no character development of any kind, the interactions and banter between maps were dull and boring. As I mentioned earlier, there was absolutely 0 romance which is like a huge flip over SO4 which had multiple couple shipping.
Look, I don’t really care that much about skits (and often thought that a lot of the games we played went totally overboard on them) but the PA system in this game was incomprehensible. In SO4 they were generally done while on the spaceship, but here they were always done in a town but who or when or where felt completely arbitrary. I looked up the list of them while writing this and it was like “oh yeah even though you’re about to go to the final dungeon, if you go back to this random town from earlier in the game that you’d have no reason to actually go back to there’s a set of PAs there with your party, and then another set that triggers if you did that one in another random early game city that you’d have no reason to go to otherwise.”
And of course the biggest travesty of why this game is shit is
THERE IS NO NEW GAME PLUS. THERE ARE 2 CHARACTERS WITH DIFFERENT SPECIAL CUT SCENES FOR EACH ONE BUT YOU CANNOT CARRY OVER YOUR DATA. YOU HAVE TO START FROM 0 ALL OVER AGAIN IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE OTHER CHARACTER’S STORY. LEARN FROM SCARLET NEXUS TRIACE YOU FUCKING FAIL OF A COMPANY. (ノ# ﾟдﾟ)ﾉ ┫:･’∵:．┻┻:･’．:∵
Look, I don’t automatically assume that games will have a NG+, but ffs when a game explicitly has multiple routes that you’re “supposed” to do then I take it as a given that it will be there!!!!!!!!!!!
Needless to say, do not recommend. 👋 Not even on a Steam sale.
More or less every single one of the top rated screenshots on Steam for this game has a caption like “デカパイ感謝 ” or “全体的にムチムチしてるロリ巨乳が仲間になる ケツもデカい ” or “エロすぎ”.
Thank god for people on youtube posting the only cut scene ending I cared about without having to play the entire game over again
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