LifeisXbox’s Star Ocean: The Divine Force review | Star Ocean, the franchise from Square Enix has a bit of a history with Xbox. The Last Hope in 2009 was a timed exclusive for the mighty Xbox 360. That’s been a while and now we must be happy when Square Enix decides to release something on our Xbox platform. Times have changed! Star Ocean: The Divine Force isn’t the best entree in the long-running series but it still managed to conquer my heart with interesting characters. The Divine Force is a standalone story too, so you don’t need knowledge about the previous games. Writing this review without mentioning one of my favourite RPGs is impossible, the developer behind The Divine Force (Tri-Ace) created Resonance of Fate. Also for that mighty Xbox 360. There’s not much similarity between the games but both are must-plays if you like the roleplaying genre!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Fun battle system | We have a completely new battle system in this game, if you played the previous Star Ocean you understand why that was necessary. I still get nauseous thinking about Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness. (This wasn’t on Xbox) This time we have an easy-to-understand battle system where every character has a set of moves and an action bar. Planning your moves is important as you don’t want to be a sitting duck against a large group of enemies. DUMA, the alien robot can help you with more advanced fighting moves. With boss fights, it is crucial to work together with DUMA and these moments are where this Star Ocean shines the most. You could say that this game stands or falls with DUMA’s abilities with the combat system and the platforming options while exploring the dull world. Making the skills work together between party members and strategically using the robot’s move set makes this one of the more memorable fighting mechanics I played in a long time.
- Nice to meet you Ray and Laeticia | A space explorer and a princess. An exciting cast of characters with some really memorable dialogue and funny moments. The chemistry between the party members is the main reason why the decent story has an impact. In short, without spoiling much. Ray crashed with his spacecraft and Laeticia and other characters teamed up to fix a world and universal problem that impacts everyone. Your playthrough of around 40 hours is full of twists and some genuinely funny dialogue.
- Is the soundtrack on Spotify? | You can find it on Spotify and oh my… it is worth a listen! Motoi Sakuraba, deserves to ring a bell as he’s the composer. I’m sure you enjoyed his work before with Tales of Arise, Super Smash Bros or Dark Souls. Combat has an extra punch with surprising electrical notes and the sense of awe is increased with beautifully composed instrumental pieces. An emotional journey and Star Ocean: The Divine Force benefits from his excellent work. It might be silly to add this to the list of why to buy a game but in this case, the soundtrack alone is worth your attention.
- Private Actions | Private actions are conversations between party members, completely optional. Large parts of the character-building and story are told here. It came as a shock to me that there is no indication of where to find them or when you unlock them. You have to randomly decide to visit a town again or some random place on the map to start a private action. But the most shocking fact is that crucial and essential information is told in these private actions but they are easily missed. I loved increasing my knowledge about the backgrounds of the characters but was extremely disappointed to become aware that I missed actions as they were talking about a previous event I missed.
- A game filled with tedious and meaningless quests | I can’t think of a roleplaying game that doesn’t have them. Even recently while I started a new game called Soccer Story I was collecting carrots for no reason. Star Ocean: The Divine Force really takes the crown with stupid time-wasting quests. Even main quests often have one single reason, to keep the player busy. A real problem in the RPG genre, I regularly feel that developers add stuff as they have to reach 50 or more hours of playtime. This works against the story too, Laeticia was worried that the spacecraft from Ray had an influence on villagers. So we needed to investigate the matter thoroughly… we talked with exactly three people and she was convinced about the outcome. This back-and-forth running happens constantly, to the point that I started to feel like doing chores. I’m delaying emptying the dishwasher to play exciting videogames, not to feel the exact same – pfft again – feeling while playing. I wouldn’t have minded it that much if these quests meant more battle moments. As I previously explained the combat is really fun but this is just travelling from the quest giver to NPC X and NPC Z and returning to the quest giver. You’ll be doing that 30 times or more throughout the story campaign.
What we Disliked
- Going to the zoo with 5 animals | I would compare the environments from Star Ocean: The Divine Force with a zoo that only has five animals. And five animals you have seen before, you know a horse, rabbit, parrot, a monkey and something a bit more unique …an elephant. The environments are large for the sake of being large without any sort of original idea. You’ll find some treasure chests and upgrade tokens for DUMA but the design is utterly boring. Visually it is decent enough with a few remarkable views but it just lacks something that makes it uniquely different from other games. It doesn’t help that enemies constantly spawn in the same places and when you have to backtrack 55 times it becomes a bit repetitive… a big shame as the platforming abilities from DUMA could have been used for some better gameplay and design ideas. This becomes even more apparent when you visit towns. Filled with silent NPCs and confusing world-building, I literally found a house where a tree blocks the door for example. And okay, you don’t have the option to enter houses but it destroys any believable idea of a real town.
- Accessibility with font size and menu UI | Tri-ace thinks its audience is owls or something. Or think we live in Cyberpunk’s futuristic world where everyone has eye enhancers. I honestly don’t understand how this wasn’t clear when they tested the game in QA. With no option to increase the font size whatsoever, you are left with incredibly small lines of text. Good for instant headache attacks after playing it for a longer time.
How long to beat the story | 40 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 80 hours
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