There are so many stars, and they’re all so mysterious in the vastness of space. That’s why we’re so inspired to make fantastical stories about them. The Sabotage game studio is telling their own such tale in Sea of Stars. It’s a 3D turn-based RPG that calls back to the classics like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. You take control of a trio of friends as they journey across the world to keep it safe from destructive forces that threaten its very existence. With a combination of strategic elements and flashy battle animations, this is a star story that’s working hard to shine bright.
What is Sea of Stars?
By the title, you think that it would be referring to the vastness of celestial bodies across the universe. However, Sea of Stars is setting sail with its own unique story. In a vast fantasy world, the people live under the threat of minions created by a being known as The Fleshmancer. Those with the power to fight these minions do so by drawing power from the Sun and Moon as Solstice Warriors.
You follow the journey of childhood friends Valere and Zale, who train for years to become these warriors before setting out to do their duty. They’re joined by their friend Garl, and the trio soon find themselves on a quest that may turn out to be more significant than they ever thought possible.
The Majestic Sea of Stars
Games have to try many things to get our attention, but the most important is love and passion for the project. You get a strong sense of those elements from the moment you start Sea of Stars. Years in the making following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the developers have put a lot of their love into its creation.
This is most evident in the visuals and art style. This is pixel art at one of the highest degrees, where you almost can’t believe you’re looking at an arrangement of tiny squares. Both the main characters and side characters feel present and look alive, especially in combat, shining brightly against the detailed, vibrant, and lush backgrounds.
Speaking of the combat, this game does what other turn-based RPG games should do: It makes it interactive. There are so many criticisms over the fact that sides are basically taking turns to hit each other, and you just have to let it happen. Here, you have the first level which lets you block and deal extra damage with the right timing, most notably when using special attacks. Then there’s the next level of giving you reasons to alternate between physical and magic attacks by using the latter to power the former. Physical attacks also generate levels of magic power that can be stockpiled or spread out among the power to strengthen any of your actions.
Finally, there’s the extra level of strategy by presenting enemies that will use attacks that can be interrupted with the right combination of damage types. Between all these, you find yourself getting more engaged in the battle.
Then there are the overworld segments. The exploration of many RPGs is hampered by characters not being able to explore as you would a platform or 3D adventure game. That’s not the case here. You’re controlling young athletic heroes, and they show it. You can climb, jump, swim, gather cooking ingredients, change the time of day, and more with all the smoothness and quickness of a platformer. You’re not just waiting for the next battle or aiming to move the story quickly along — you want to see what’s out there. You want to see what you can reach and what mysteries can be solved now or later.
A Stormy Sea of Stars
You can’t appreciate the value of smooth sailing unless you have to weather a few storms. Sea of Stars has its own storms that you’ll face while playing the game. The biggest has to be the lack of variety in certain areas. For instance, you only have three main characters to control when you meet such a colorful cast of talented characters otherwise.
The side activities like Fishing and Cooking look nice, but they’re not as enjoyable or beneficial as they could be. It also takes a while to further grow your team’s skills, which means you run the risk of falling into patterns when it comes to dealing with random encounters. At least the bosses are varied and quite animated.
Set Sail on the Sea of Stars
Sea of Stars is a 2D pixel art modern-day traditional RPG about keeping the world safe with the power of day and night. The art and animation are amazing, the combat is interactive and engaging while still being strategically paced, and the world invites you to explore every nook and cranny with fluid movements. The problem is that with all this effort, it makes you wish there was a bit more to experience in terms of side activities, and more characters to try out as you wait to expand the skills of the main trio. Though, if you have the urge to visit the sea, you’d do well to answer the call to the Sea of Stars.
Sea of Stars was played on Switch with a code provided by the publisher. It’s available for download on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox.