Star Ocean: The Divine Force is the sixth entry in the long running JRPG series. It was developed by Tri-Ace and published by Square Enix. It released to consoles in October 2022.
When Raymond and his crew are flying back to drop off some cargo to finish off their job, they’re attacked by a spaceship from the Pangalactic Federation, which makes them need to evacuate and land on the underdeveloped planet known as Aster IV. Raymond’s crew is scattered and he puts his all into finding them, with the help of a local Princess, known as Laeticia and her guard, Albaird.
When the game starts up, you get a choice as to who your main character will be, Raymond or Laeticia. This gives you different viewpoints of the story depending on what the party is doing when they’re all split up. I expected to be asked throughout the game, who’s view points I’d want to see depending on the situation. But considering I chose Raymond, I was always Raymond, which kind of surprised me. The game does a fantastic job of building up the story and the world.
At first you’re looking for your crew but before you know it, you’re thrust into a war with a whole lot of backstabbing and lies and people from all over the galaxy being part of this huge conspiracy plot. I know it sounds like a typical JRPG storyline, but it felt like it was done so properly, as opposed to the last entry in this series where there’s no time for buildup and you’re just thrust into a war.
The game features quite a cast of characters to play with and to learn to love. From the grumpy inventor, Midas, to Albaird, who takes his job way too seriously, to the overly shy Chloe. There’s no way you can’t find someone to love. My favourite character was easily Albaird, just because of the way he grows throughout the journey. I just wanted to hug him and tell him it’s okay.
When it comes to the way the game plays, it’s a touch different than the rest of the series. In this entry, you have an AP bar, which is basically just a bar that goes down when you do attacks. When you defeat enemies, it can go up, but sometimes when I defeated some, it never actually went up. The stronger the attack you want to pull off, the more of the bars get used. When I was fighting a boss, most of the time I was stuck having only five bars, which is the minimum you can have, so I was stuck using some of my weakest attacks to defeat it. It didn’t help that for most boss fights, I was all alone because the AI is some of the worst I think I’ve ever seen.
When it comes to healing in most games, the healer can do it from a distance. Cast a nice spell from a corner, boom, you’re healed. But in this, they have to get right next to you, make a little circle, and chances are, they’ll die doing it. When I’d revive them, they’d instead try to give me a buff for some unknown reason, then just stand still, instead of reviving the two dead people, so that they can help tackle the boss with me! Although it’s not like they were much help either, considering the boss could put up a big sign that says “I’m going to Nuke the area in front of me”, and they’d still stand in front of the boss. Again, the AI is so bad!
The exploration portion of everything is actually really awesome and unlike anything we’ve seen in the series. The areas are pretty big fields, with chests to find, you get to run pretty fast through them, which is surprising, and there’s a whole lot of verticality thanks to the robot known as DUMA. This little ball lets you defy gravity and soar through the air for a short while, so when I got to new towns, I had a blast exploring rooftops to see what kind of chests I could find. Chances are I’d find something I already have, but the nice thing is that the game would auto-sell anything I had an excess amount of.
The one thing I didn’t get any of, were the character endings, and boy did I try. Throughout the journey, when the party splits in towns, you get a chance to talk to everyone. Sometimes this would trigger an action known as a “Private Action”, sometimes it wouldn’t. Sometimes you get to respond with multiple answers, one answer giving you the most friendship points, some not. But you can’t see these points, and you can’t see the private actions either. At one point I was fast traveling to every town to figure out where the next set of actions were and getting nowhere. Why set it up like this? I mean private actions have always been sort of a hidden system in the series, but I think it’s time to change that.
The dungeons in the game are all pretty straight forward, when you actually reach a dungeon. Some have a few puzzles in them that had me running around for longer than I probably needed to, but it was fun figuring out the solutions in the long run. They’re all absolutely beautiful too. From ancient ruins, to destroyed spaceships, I really enjoyed a lot of them. I do wish they had more puzzles in them though, because it does get boring just walking down hallways and fighting enemy set after enemy set.
- Lovable Characters
- Great World Building
- Fantastic Story
- The AI
- Private Actions System
- Dungeons Need More Puzzles
I absolutely loved this entry to the series. It had a fantastic story, awesome characters, and a nice world. I just wish the AI were better and I could’ve seen the character endings. But one day I can go back and grind out the actions until I get them! Definitely don’t skip on this game, but do beware of the AI…as I’ve said…a hundred times.