Sea of Stars is a role-playing video game by Sabotage Studio, releasing in 2023. In the game, players take control of two heroes named Valere and Zale, who use the power of the sun and moon to fight against the creations of an evil alchemist. Sea of Stars features puzzle-solving and turn-based combat, with the player able to control up to six characters. If you grew up playing classic RPG’s from franchises such as Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Chrono Trigger or Phantasy Star then you’ll feel right at home in Sea of Stars.
Sea of Stars aims to modernize the classic RPG in terms of turn-based combat, storytelling, exploration and interactions with the environment, while still offering a hearty slice of nostalgia and good old, simple fun. There are many ways to hang out in the world of Sea of Stars if you feel the need for a change of pace in your adventures. Sailing, cooking, fishing, stopping by a tavern to listen to a song or play the table top game known as “Wheels”.
Valere and Zale are Solstice Warriors, adventurers who have control over Eclipse Magic. Their power is the only magic able to harm the Dwellers, otherworldly monsters created by a god-like alchemist called the Fleshmancer. During their travels, they are assisted by their childhood friend, a warrior-cook named Garl. The trio is joined by an assassin named Seraï, and they attack the Dweller of Woe alongside the other Solstice Warriors.
From there, the Solstice Warriors (and friends) embark on an epic journey of peril and wonder that will ultimately decide the fate of the world.
Sea of Stars feels like a delightful blast from the past for anyone that has been longing to play an old-school RPG. In so many ways, it gave me the nostalgic jolt of lightning that we all enjoy from time to time. You might think that this would leave the game feeling a bit old-fashioned but it’s the complete opposite. The developer did an amazing job of taking all of those classic systems and delivering them in a way that feels fresh.
The striking visual style is one of Sea of Star’ strongest aspects. It’s clearly heavily inspired by 16bit, classic 2D games. However, modern resolutions are much higher than what we saw on consoles such as the SNES. There is as well some 3D trickery in how it is built for the dynamic lighting system. Basically, all of this combines to deliver some of the most beautiful looking pixelated art that I have evet seen.
I know it’s something of an internet meme at this point but I really enjoyed the traditional feel of the turn-based combat. Each of the characters have unique and useful abilities that you’ll utilize at one point or another. There are additional skills that keep things fresh as well as “ultimate” attacks that lead to some spectacular visuals. I know it makes me sound old but these types of games are always better with this type of combat. Sea of Stars shows that it is still something that can be done in a modern game, if done the right way.
Exploring the numerous environments, towns and over world is another aspect that will feel familiar. There’s a hell of a lot of detail in most of the areas, you can truly feel and appreciate the effort that has gone into it.
What would a game like this be with music? Well, I’m more than happy to report that Sea of Stars has a hell of a soundtrack. This shouldn’t come as a great surprise when you consider that Yasunori Mitsuda played a big part in crafting it. For those unaware, he is responsible for composing many of the classic tracks heard in games such as Chrono Cross & Xenogears.
The narrative is most likely the weakest aspect of Sea of Stars. It isn’t bad just fairly standard for what you’d expect in this type of game. That said, it never bored me and has enough twists and turns that I was more than compelled to see it through. Throughout the game the dialogue is very well written with each of the interesting characters having defined traits. The whole experience has this wonderful jovialness that keeps things light-hearted for the most part. I felt connected to the characters in their happy moments and in their not so happy ones as well.
Additionally, I must praise the game for doing away with “random encounters” that often plague these types of games and make them feel overly grindy.
Overall, if you’ve been longing for an RPG to give you that feeling you felt when you first played some of the classics in the genre from yesteryear then look no further than Sea of Stars.
Sea of Stars
The Final Score - 9/10