Final Fantasy XV is just around the corner and it looks like it might end up being one of the best JRPG’s the world has ever seen. Today however, we want to talk about another big JRPG that you may or may not know that Square Enix released this year. It’s the intergalactic adventure Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness.
Star Ocean V opens its first moments in such a way that makes it seem as though you are going to enter into an adventure where a boy from a small medieval town is going to set off into a crazy intergalactic adventure across the stars that goes beyond the main character’s wildest dreams. Unfortunately this fantasy stops pretty early on as you get further into the game and realize that most of your adventure will not be taking place traversing the stars and foreign planets and instead will be stuck on Faykreed for about 90% of the game. Instead you are given an adventure that sets you off with a very linear plot that continually rubber bands you back and forth and sort of repeats the same reasons for getting into boss fights and conflict with the enemy organization (Kronos.) in a very rinse wash repeat method. I almost mean this in a literal fashion. The game legitimately causes you to run into the same two conflicts over and over again up until the end when you and your team finally go after the head leader of Kronos. Your characters do have some good legitamte reasons for some of these conflicts to become repetitive but at the time of going through them you may be asking yourself “Didn’t I just save this person?” or “Didn’t we just go through this exact same conflict about 3 hours ago??”
It’s not an entirely boring experience though. While the main character Fidel is not the most interesting of heroes, your supporting cast comes along with a fun set of quirks. Between Emmerson and Anne alone, you end up developing an attachment to the other heroes that you come along with you in your not so intergalactic adventure. If you can figure out how the side quest system works then you will also find yourself enjoying a number of the conversations between the various characters in the game and enjoy watching how the relationships between them develop throughout the game. This is actually one of the better points to the game due to how these character relationships are all for the most part developed outside of anything that is going on with Fidel. I enjoyed seeing that the game really wanted to accentuate the fact that this isn’t just Fidel’s story, but instead is a tale of several people who have been brought together by the cosmos for a common cause. Unfortunately figuring out when these moments will occur between characters is a bit difficult as many of them can be missed if you play through the game linearly. Linear game play is nothing new but if you want to try to make a point to go back to visit the other locales on your journey to see how these relationships develop it will cost you a lot of real world time due to the inaccessibility of any sort of fast travel for a large portion of the game. That being said, when you are allowed to fast travel, take advantage of it.
The plot of the game while not entirely dull is still nothing that will stand out in your memory against other major memorable JRPG’s like Final Fantasy X, Tales of Symphonia, or even Star Ocean III. Initally it seems like you are going to enter into a fun set of conflicts that has a lot of room to develop into something that could become a great tale of a complex conflict between 2 highly developed civilizations and how their battles would impact that of a planet who has no idea that life outside of their world could even remotely exist. The game seems to set you up for a game that could ask a lot of deep questions about what impact such a highly advanced society would have on an underdeveloped planet with just their simple presence there and seems to get you excited to find ways to subtly fight Kronos without using any futuristic technology. Unfortunately the game doesn’t seem to capitalize on the potential of the plot lines that it sets up and delivers instead a plot direction that is not necessarily bad per say but more is just less than what I thought I was going to get from my initial thoughts and experience in the game.
One of the refreshing things about the game in every moment of it, is the scenery of this game. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness from the very first scene sets you up with a fantastically beautiful scenery which sometimes looks more realistic than anime artistic and manages to blend it well with the more anime esque 3D models of the cast of the game. The animation of the game is gorgeous from start to finish and always leaves you wanting to see more of the beautiful world of Faykreed and even some of the other locations you get to visit later on in the game despite how they are a contrast to the vivid and lush world you previously found yourself on. The attack animations are pretty cool as well and each skill attack is just as satisfying to watch as it is to execute on your foes
Speaking of combat, the combat system in the game is fairly simple and easy to learn. you basically only have 4 skills assigned to your controlled character at a time and determine which you want to execute by both your button choice and the distance between you and your targeted enemy. You also can guard and counterattack your foes as well once you get better at predicting attacks and dodging charged assaults. All of these features play an integral role in your campaign due to how getting better at executing various attacks, skills and counter attacks charges your reserve gauge. By charging your reserve gauge you not only gain access to much more powerful skills to use in battle, but also the higher percentage on your reserve gauge the more money, skill points, and experience you earn per battle. Your bonus to these is directly affected by your fighting style and how much you use normal attacks, charged attacks, and counter attacks, but after you learn the basics you start figuring out how to work the system to suit your needs.
Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness isn’t necessarily a game that will captivate you in the same way that other major JRPG games have done but it isn’t a terrible entry into the genre either. While the plot did not deliver up to the full potential that I personally thought it could, there were some good moments and I did enjoy seeing out the tale up to the end of the story. The battle systems delivered something that you could work with at any skill level of gaming but weren’t quite complex enough to feel rewarding to experienced players. The visuals throughout the game kept you continually looking around and wanting to see more. Overall, we give the game a 6.5/10.