Star Ocean: The Divine Force, the sixth mainline entry of the Star Ocean action-RPG series, is out now! While I’m nowhere near ready to give a definitive review, my first impressions are… mostly good! I’ll get into the nitty-gritty, with some early story spoilers further down.
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The Essentials, If You’re New
- Star Ocean: The Divine Force blends science fiction and fantasy in a breezy way. The series usually involves a misadventure leading to first contact or a technologically advanced civilization meeting one that’s further behind. It’s not a new idea — both E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Star Trek explored first contact in detail — but the main cast makes it fun.
- The story really gets going — one of the protagonists is stranded on another planet within the first few minutes. I’ll save the particulars for the section below, but you almost immediately get some juicy questions: Who shot down your ship? Why? Can a Victorian child truly know a Dorito if they don’t realize how a corn chip is made? (That last one’s as vague as I can muster.)
- Dual protagonists, extensive skill trees, and item crafting return from Star Ocean: The Second Story. And from what I’ve seen, the game encourages you to sink your teeth into these systems. (The first major boss absolutely walloped me until I remembered my unused skill points.)
- This isn’t fully open-world. There are hard boundaries, and they mostly work in the game’s favor. Open spaces between towns are littered with enemies and items, but you won’t be climbing every mountain and fording every stream. Definitely keep your eyes peeled, though.
- If you need absolute graphical fidelity and precision targeting, you will have a bad time. Even in performance mode with my Xbox Series X, there’s noticeable blurriness and pop-in. The framerate has been steady even in the most frantic battles but temper your expectations accordingly.
- The English voice cast is great! They clearly know what genre they’re in and aren’t afraid to ham it up a little. The only silent text boxes so far have been for tutorials — every cutscene, main cast aside, and labeled NPC has been voiced. Spare a thought for the over-30s in your life; the text and UI are on the small side.
A Few Mild Story Details for Returning Folks
Now that the spoiler-sensitive table setting is out of the way, here’s what really caught my attention so far:
- This is the first time I’ve truly liked a male Star Ocean protagonist. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a place in my heart for angsty anime youths finding themselves, but it’s great to play as a (so far) regular dude with a job. Ray recognizes the situation he’s in and makes pretty sensible decisions based on it. He ribs his party members, cares for his crew, and is honestly excited to explain what a cell phone is. What’s not to love?
- Laeticia — the crown princess of the underdeveloped planet Ray has crash-landed on — knows what an airship is but is still bewildered by a cell phone. She’s clearly intrigued; she constantly brings up D.U.M.A, the robotic cargo that lets you zoom around the environment like a ping-pong ball. Clearly, someone else has been meddling with their planet. How do you know about a spaceship but not the instantaneous communication that made it possible?
- Pangalactic Federation. . . bad???? Are they the baddies?
- I like having little breadcrumb trails of D.U.M.A crystals to pick up. It’s a good way to incentivize exploration, and there’s usually a treat at the other end. Is it subtle? No, these aren’t Korok-seed levels of environmental puzzle-solving. Still fun, though!
More to Come
Okay, you can look now. The story beat discussion is over. While this isn’t a full review of Star Ocean: The Divine Force, I do plan on checking back in after I clear Ray’s route. I’ll have more definitive conclusions by then. For now, this should give you a solid indicator of whether to pick the game up, wait for a sale, or draw your own conclusions. Over and out!