Star Ocean: The Divine Force is the sixth entry in the series. It was developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix. Its release date is October 27th, 2022.
As you and your crew are flying through space, taking in the sights, and talking about your job, a Pangalactic Federation ship appears before you and starts to fire upon you. Being unable to avoid its attacks, you and your crew abandon ship, with the cargo you were transporting, and find yourselves on an underdeveloped planet known as Aster IV.
The demo starts out literally at the beginning of the game, and it lets you choose only one of the two available protagonists and only one difficulty level. This was a bit strange to me, but I rolled with it regardless, because I had no choice. The story starts off relatively simple with you trying to find your crew, who have been scattered around this planet, while also trying to find a way off it, with help from the locals. The demo contains the first two hours of story, even though that also includes the gameplay portions, so it gives you a lot of time to get its hooks into you. I just wish it ended a bit better, as opposed to dropping off after a random cutscene.
I have yet to play the fifth Star Ocean game, which is Integrity and Faithlessness, so I’m not 100% sure how much they’ve refined the gameplay since then. But this entry is as smooth as smooth can be. I’m so used to tight little corridors as I’m exploring the world in all the other entries, with maybe an area or two being pretty well sized. But in this entry, the maps are huge, with quite a bit to discover, I must say. Between treasure chests and upgrade points for your robot sidekick that ends up giving you flight ability, it really ramps up the exploration of the game, and I found myself sticking to each area for a long time before finally moving on.
The combat is seamless this time around. When you see enemies in the field, you just immediately walk up to them and start beating them up, and you’re given a wide net on your minimap as to where the area to fight them is. If you ever feel unprepared, you can always run out of it to escape the battle. This only ever happened once for me by complete accident, which goes to show how large the areas really are. The game plays more like a hack and slash now, with the ability to eventually change up your combos. Later in the game, I imagine you’ll be choosing a huge amount of skills to put in your three hit combos to do wicked amounts of damage.
The one thing I couldn’t wrap my head around was the Blindside mechanic, which is a big thing since the fourth game. Basically, you dodge around the enemy to be able to do large amounts of damage. I’m so used to blocking and waiting for an attack, then side stepping them for this move to go off, but now, you just “break line of sight” basically, but there has to be more of a tell than this right? I’m sure I’ll understand it more in the main game, but again, it didn’t click with me here. I also wish we got to explore an actual dungeon as well, because I can’t wait to see how large and detailed those will be, but at least we had the chance to fight a giant boss and fly to its head and smack it in the face!
Personally, I can’t wait for this game even more now. My hype has built, I’m ready for this game, and I’m glad we’re finally getting another instalment. Now let’s hope we go to more than one planet.