Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure is a standalone sport within the grander Star Ocean collection, which started again in 1996. It has all the trimmings of a basic JRPG and is a captivating journey that evokes the PS2 RPGs of yesteryear whereas bringing the collection as much as fashionable JRPG requirements.
Regardless of this being the latest Star Ocean sport in a long-running collection, you received’t need to be aware of earlier video games to know what’s occurring. There are some Easter eggs and references for longtime followers, however in case you’re new to the franchise, you’ll be able to bounce proper in.
The story has a fairly neat idea: Raymond Lawrence (Ray to his buddies), a service provider captain with an terrible haircut, has simply crash-landed on Aster IV, an underdeveloped planet straight out of medieval instances. Whereas looking for his crew, he meets Laeticia, princess of the Kingdom of Aucerius, and Albaird, her loyal knight. Each have issues: Laeticia wants to trace down a former royal semiomancer — suppose magic meets know-how — to help her kingdom, and Ray may use a hand finding the remainder of his crew and navigating the planet. They rapidly determine to staff up.
The Divine Pressure’s story escalates, after all; what occurs on Aster IV has ramifications that stretch far past the planet, however the small scale of its opening hours is pleasurable. It allows you to get to know the characters and get a really feel for the world earlier than thrusting you into the bigger plot.
One of many cool issues about The Divine Pressure is which you could select whether or not you’d like Ray or Laeticia to be the principle character (I picked Ray, for the document). You’ll be capable of comply with the story simply tremendous both method, however every has segments you received’t get to see in case you’re taking part in as the opposite that add context and taste to the general plot.
It’s a neat characteristic that encourages you to replay The Divine Pressure — the sport clocks in at round 30-40 hours, relying on the way you play — however there’s no option to carry over your progress from one playthrough to a different. If I needed to play Laeticia, I’d have to begin a very new file, which is type of a bummer, however tracks with one thing like Scarlet Nexus, which has an analogous setup.
In the end, although, that’s not an excessive amount of of an issue while you’ve received a forged that’s as various and enjoyable because the one in The Divine Pressure. It is a combination of Aster IV natives and folk from off-planet, and the interaction between the characters and the cultures they characterize is fairly fascinating. On one hand, you’ve received a bunch aware of androids and interstellar journey; on the opposite, you’ve received a bunch that has some shocking know-how — because of semiomancy — however nonetheless largely fights with swords. This makes for some actually enjoyable interactions through which each teams have one thing to be taught from the opposite.
The characters themselves are sometimes primarily based on archetypes: Albraid is the curmudgeonly knight who takes his responsibility severely however cares deeply in regards to the individuals round him; Laeticia is a correct princess totally devoted to her buddies and her individuals; Ray is easygoing and likable however takes his duties to his crew very severely, and so forth.
The characters aren’t wholly unique, however they’re lots of enjoyable, and I loved spending time with them in cutscenes, by conversations within the subject, and in Personal Actions. Personal Actions are one-on-one conversations you’ll be able to set off with social gathering members whilst you’re in one in every of Aster IV’s numerous cities. It’s right here that you just’ll be taught probably the most about your compatriots, and it’s enjoyable exploring their quirks and distinctive personalities outdoors of the confines of the story.
In a single, I discovered about Albaird’s insecurities about his youth and his want to develop up quicker to be of extra service to Laeticia. In one other, Laeticia praised Ray’s swordsmanship, and when he admitted to having no thought what he was doing, provided to coach him, although she admitted she solely knew the fundamentals herself. The Divine Pressure even allows you to select how your character responds from time to time, resulting in completely different conversations, too.
The one draw back to Personal Actions is that they could be a little onerous to search out. Whereas companions are marked in your map after they’re obtainable in a given city, they’re no option to distinguish between a daily dialog and a Personal Motion. Generally you’ll end up quick touring from city to city simply to search out new ones, which could be a little bit of a drag. Nonetheless, they’re just about all the time price it while you observe them down.
While you’re not in cities, you’ll spend lots of your time exploring the world and moving into fights. Fortunately, Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure has a incredible fight system. Every little thing is real-time: you’ll see enemies on this planet and struggle them in that surroundings. There’s no separate fight display screen or screened-off space. Combating includes assigning your characterss fight skills to one in every of three buttons.
You possibly can assign further strikes in succession to create customized combos and bind different expertise to holding one in every of three buttons, so there’s no scarcity of strikes obtainable to at least one. The restrict in your skills is AP; every capacity prices AP to make use of, so managing it in fight is essential, although it does return rapidly if exhausted. Since you’ll be able to swap between any of your social gathering members at any time, there’s no scarcity of the way to strategy fight.
The actual trick, although, is D.U.M.A., somewhat robotic that Ray, Laeticia, and crew discover early on. D.U.M.A. provides the present character entry to the VA Gauge, which opens up a ton of helpful skills. You possibly can defend your self or allies from injury or use particular skills that heal your social gathering, relying on the character. The very best a part of D.U.M.A. is its sprint assault, which lets you shut distance rapidly whereas dealing injury. Even higher is the power to alter instructions mid-charge. Doing this on the final second, and hitting an enemy when it will probably’t see you, will lead to a blindside assault.
Nailing blindsides is essential; touchdown one is not going to solely stun enemies, however it is going to additionally enhance your most AP, permitting you to land for much longer combos, although it is going to use half your VA Gauge. Getting hit will scale back your most AP till it returns to the usual 5, although, so that you’ll nonetheless need to watch out. Mix this with a dodge roll that rewards you for timing your evasions exactly, and you’ve got a system that’s continually partaking and encourages sensible play.
The one draw back is that utilizing gadgets takes a very long time, and you need to stand utterly nonetheless to do it. In sure conditions, the place just one social gathering member stays, it may be all however inconceivable to win since you’ll be able to’t keep away from being hit lengthy sufficient to heal.
D.U.M.A may also be used to hurry up traversal, rocketing you across the map to keep away from enemies, discover hidden goodies, and accumulate purple crystals that can be utilized to stage up D.U.M.A. It’s factor, too, as a result of The Divine Pressure’s environments are huge. Whereas they’re largely flat plains, they’re beautiful, colourful, and enjoyable to discover, similar to the cities you’ll discover whereas traversing them.
Issues get somewhat murkier with regards to the sport’s presentation. The characters usually seem like dolls, and the lip-syncing is noticeably poor, not less than for the English dub. It isn’t game-breaking, and I usually discovered myself admiring the little touches within the character’s fashions, corresponding to the way in which their clothes seems to be after they run, however it’s a little bit of a distinction when in comparison with the sport’s beautiful environments. The sound design, however, is kind of good, with wonderful battle and ambient music and hits that sound as meaty as they really feel.
The menus are one other drawback. There are just too many sub-menus, and the whole lot is only a collection of black containers stacked on high of each other that aren’t labeled in addition to they need to be. It might probably usually be onerous to search out what you’re on the lookout for until you already know the place it’s or bear in mind the button command that can get you the place that you must know.
It is a small nuisance however a bummer when you need to spend a lot time within the menus leveling up your characters, constructing combos, and upgrading your gear. The in-game tutorial menu helps, however I positively discovered myself utilizing it greater than I’d like.
Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure Overview — The Backside Line
- A great deal of appeal.
- Enjoyable characters.
- A superb fight system that rewards sensible play.
- The character fashions aren’t pretty much as good because the backgrounds.
- Menus aren’t nicely laid out.
- Personal Actions will be onerous to search out.
I didn’t know what to anticipate the primary time I fired up Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure. I had solely passing information of the collection from watching a buddy play Star Ocean: The Final Pressure in faculty and from others speaking about how a lot they cherished Til the Finish of Time. I can’t communicate to what taking part in The Divine Pressure will really feel prefer to collection veterans or the way it compares to different video games within the collection. However I can say that I actually loved my time with Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure; it jogs my memory of the PS2 JRPGs in the absolute best method.
For all its faults, although, Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure is a relentlessly charming sport that jogs my memory of the perfect PS2 RPGs. It received’t convert anybody; that is very a lot a JRPG, albeit a contemporary one. So in case you don’t just like the style, this received’t change your thoughts. However in case you’re on the lookout for a enjoyable romp throughout the celebrities, you’ll discover The Divine Pressure to be a journey price taking.
[Note: Square Enix provided the copy of Star Ocean: The Divine Force used for this review.]