Sea of Stars – an amazing JRPG adventure among celestial bodies
THE TEST – The two heroes fight exhausted, fighting for their lives with their last bit of strength. Body healer demons are bloodthirsty and menacing. However, before the monsters can attack them, the night is interrupted by the cold light of the watching moon. A charge of energy flows through the heroes: fiery balls of sunlight and sparkling spears of the moon explode from their fingers, destroying the evil creatures attacking them. With their shining powers, infused with the power of the light of the sun and the moon, the heroes head towards the lair of the mysterious being.
“Sea of Stars” is a neo-retro masterpiece that evokes ’90s hits like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. This game is a modern version of turn-based RPG games. Those who loved 2018’s The Messenger will be happy to know that Sea of Stars is the prequel to it. Canadian studio Sabotage — best known as a creator of “vintage indie games” — has shifted from a Metroidvania-style game to an RPG in this Kickstarter-backed project, making the transition more transparent. Set hundreds of years ago, this is a stand-alone adventure inspired by the original world of “The Messenger” for an all-new story. The result is a beautiful homage to the classic gameplay, while offering a new and mechanically improved adventure RPG.
You can choose between two heroes
The main characters, Valir and Zil, who were born in the coup half a year apart, prepare to play the role of coup warriors to protect the world from the attacks of the evil Fleshmancer and his terrible inhabitants. . As children, they are separated from their best friend, Jarl, and taught martial arts and magic by the sullen headmistress, Maureen. They soon discover that the mysterious creatures (the inhabitants) that purr underground are sleeping and getting stronger. Their goal is to “cleanse” them before they awaken and destroy the world.
Sea of Stars is a classic RPG. You can travel around the world, explore villages and caves, solve simple navigation puzzles, collect equipment and treasures, and fight monsters. You can choose Zale or Valere and switch between them at any time, while also learning new movement skills. Environments are rendered in gorgeous isometric pixel art, and your adventures are accompanied by a nostalgic soundtrack. Sea of Stars is a well-thought-out game in every detail, whether it’s the music that gets quieter when you’re underwater or the short animated scenes that introduce new areas. It constantly amazes you, whether you’re sailing the high seas or visiting a flesh-colored cave.
A sea of battles
The combat system in “Sea of Stars” is turn-based, and you can assign actions to your three active team members in any order. Either character can choose a physical attack that restores a small amount of mana; using an ability that consumes mana but also has a special effect; ultimate combos or attacks gained during the story, which must be charged with elemental actions; Or use a healing item. Each action affects the enemies counter, and they attack when the counter reaches zero.
The game also introduces a real-time element to the turn-based system in the form of a timing window, similar to the first “Paper Mario” titles. If you hold the A button while attacking, you will take more damage, while if you successfully defend, you will take less damage. Different abilities add more color to the interactions. For example, you can boost one of Zale’s special attacks by holding down the A button, while Valere’s “Moonerang” attack can bounce multiple times if you time the hit right.
Based on the game’s tutorials, successful timings act as a kind of “extra” and are not decisive if they fail. However, as enemies acquire increasingly dangerous abilities, it becomes essential to masterfully time all of your team’s abilities.
A key element of “Sea of Stars” combat is the “locks” mechanic. Sometimes, floating icons will appear next to enemies that are associated with different attack types or items, such as Strike, Sun, or Poison. If you damage the enemy with this item, their “lock” will be broken. As a result, the power of the enemy’s next attack decreases and your combo meter increases. If you manage to break all the “locks”, the enemy will lose their next turn. This is especially important during boss battles, as abilities hidden behind a “lock” can cause massive damage to your team.
Simple physical attacks are also important, as they generate orbs of power. You can use them to enhance your attacks or add different items. Treat items are also very useful: since you can only carry ten foods at a time, they can’t be stacked. Throughout the game, you’ll regularly find recipes and ingredients that you actually use between battles to replenish your team’s health and energy.
The combat system in Sea of Stars is immersive and sophisticated. The harmony prevailing between the elements of the game is perfect: intuitive handling of complexity, without sacrificing depth on the altar of simplicity. The variety of enemy types makes each encounter exciting, and players are challenged by several unique and distinct main characters. There’s no need to grind either, thanks to a clever ‘rubber band’ mechanism running in the background, which keeps challenges at just the right level: they turn out to be incredibly challenging, but they never become impossible.
The game also contains items called “Relics” which add multiple difficulty settings to the gameplay. Examples include permanently increasing a team’s defensive capabilities or free healing after battles. Every combat element is well thought out and fits perfectly into a rhythmic and immersive gaming experience that evokes the atmosphere of classic games like Secret of Mana or Golden Sun, but without the annoying minor quirks.
The story is familiar, but fascinating
The story of “Sea of Stars” is reminiscent of basic RPGs. After the perfect village introduction, events quickly escalate and become increasingly dangerous as the game progresses. The Warriors of the Solstice are tasked first with destroying and then gradually destroying a creature enslaving the entire island community. Since then, the focus is on themes of mercy, revenge, and torment, all in the context of unimaginably evil forces.
The main characters have their own motivations, but a common goal brings them together and allows them to take different paths throughout the story. Among them stands out the character development of Jarl, the warrior chef, and one of the most charismatic optimists I’ve seen in RPGs in a long time. The game’s central characters, Zale and Valere, while not having very complex personalities, are well shaded by their friendship with Garl and their responsibilities as Solstice Warriors.
As an introduction, “Sea of Stars” does a pretty good job without necessarily relying on the foreknowledge of “The Messenger.” Meanwhile, towards the end of the game, there are some episodes that lack the original’s dramatic charge and relevance. The pacing gets a bit choppy here and there, and the final moments introduce characters who get involved in plot-deciding events for no reason. It’s a little disappointing that closing some story threads seems to point to another game that hasn’t been played yet. Regardless, the game has many powerful, pathos-rich, and dramatic moments that are handled artificially, keeping the large-scale story exciting and personal throughout.
Sea of Stars’ efforts to offset serious historical content with light, humorous elements are mostly successful. For example, there is a giant that acts as a form of fast travel called “Y’eet”, which made me laugh a lot. The game is sometimes over the top with pop culture references; For example, a pirate character regularly breaks the fourth wall, mocking RPG templates, or you could meet a character based directly on YouTuber The Completionist. It’s Ed Sheeran-type Game of Thrones reference humor that’s either funny or out of context and sickens those who don’t understand the references.
A must-have for RPG fans, Sea of Stars is an adventure RPG created in a modern style but infused with classic elements, which gives the core experience of the Dragon Quest series a modern look. During the course of the game, which I completed in nearly thirty hours, there were many side missions left to explore that were left unfinished. These include, for example, collecting rainbow shells that help develop the village, getting a variety of fish that are available in each lake, and a small board game called “Rounds” that can be tried in different taverns. The game’s engaging storyline and dynamic combat system together provides a complex and satisfying experience for all RPG fans.
Overall, Sea of Stars is a very interesting game. I got to the end of the game in about thirty hours and still have a lot of side content to finish. These are optional side missions such as collecting rainbow shells that unlock new building materials for the village, obtaining fish found in different lakes, or a small table game called “rounds” that can be played in taverns. These features, along with the engaging story and exciting combat system, provide rich and satisfying content for RPG fans.
+ A thoughtful and innovative approach to the turn-based RPG
+ Beautifully designed world and environment
+ A great story with unique and lovable characters
– a couple of ill-conceived design decisions
The pace of the narration has become a bit choppy in the past few hours
– Some jokes don’t fit the basic style of the game
publisher: Vandalism Studio
Developer: Vandalism Studio
appearance: August 29, 2023