Game: Sea of Stars
Genre: RPG, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, (Windows) PS4, PS5, Xbox One, & Xbox Series X)
Developers | Publishers: Sabotage Studio
Age Rating: US E10+ | EU 7+
Price: US $34.99 | UK £29.50 | EU € 34,99
Release Date: August 29th, 2023
No review code was used, as I purchased the game myself.
The team at Sabotage Studio’s RPG Sea of Stars developers have said that classics like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana heavily inspire Sea of Stars. That is pretty apparent while playing this homage to the 16-bit era of video games.
Children of the Solstice
The opening scenes present a story about two Children of the Solstice, Zale and Valere, and their charismatic best friend and talented chef, Gael (my favourite character).
Zale and Valere have the power of the sun and moon to perform Eclipse Magic. Eclipse Magic is the only force capable of fighting off the monstrous evil alchemist, The Fleshmancer and his minions, the powerful monsters called Dwellers.
The trio set off to save the world and kill the big bad. Of course, things don’t go to plan, as is often the case in RPGs. The storyline has plenty of twists and turns to amuse you and keep you interested, with an endearing cast of characters you meet along the way and plenty of humour in the story.
However, I did feel the beginning of the game was a tad slow to start and in introducing the storyline, characters and personalities. But it’s one to stick with as it finds its flow after the first few hours and is rewarding.
Explore and Solve Puzzles
Sea of Stars gameplay is split between exploring towns, surviving areas packed with enemies, and solving puzzle-heavy dungeons. Sea of Stars has various gameplay styles, such as platforming action, cooking, swimming and fishing. Traversing the environment is enjoyable, with hidden chests tucked away and random paths to explore.
Once you reach an area, it is filled with turn-based combat, puzzles, story moments, and boss battles. The dungeons make excellent use of the various abilities you acquire during the adventures, such as a slingshot.
The progression and the level design in Sea of Stars is where the game excels. The map is split into islands navigated in the overworld that connect different areas with no combat between the areas, which I like.
Turn-based Combat and Locks
The turn-based combat is fun and engaging and offers a challenge. During battles, you can freely select between the three party members you want to use as long as they haven’t acted in that turn already. Furthermore, you can swap out one of the team members and bring in the inactive party member at any time.
In addition, as well as the usual combos and attacks your party members can perform, there is a system called Locks. Locks show a counter and icons above the opponent’s head that count down until it unleashes a devastating attack.
Also, by using strategy and certain types of magic and damage attacks that align with icons above the enemies during this phase, you can reduce the eventual power of the ability the enemy uses to attack. If you successfully hit all required damage types, you can prevent them from unleashing a powerful attack.
Timed attacks are also present as every attack can be improved to deal more damage, heal more, or have some additional effect. This is typically done by pressing the A button right before an action finishes.
Furthermore, adding another tactical layer to the turn-based battles is a boost system. Enemies drop orbs when hit with standard attacks that can then be hoovered up by one of your party members to boost the damage output or healing potency of their next attack or spell.
Like in any RPG, the party members level up once they get enough experience in Sea of Stars. You level up as a party, though, so when this happens, you’ll get to select a bonus stat boost for each character individually. It’s a straightforward mechanic that lets you choose which stats you want to level up.
I like the battle system. The ability to swap out party members during battle is a neat little addition that mixes up combat slightly and adds a layer of strategy to breaking locks and defeating certain enemies. Sea of Stars turn-based battles feel well-balanced and challenging.
As you journey through the game, you’ll encounter various puzzles and minigames that add an extra layer of fun and challenge to your experience. There is the mini-game Mr. Chest, where you are presented with three treasure chests. Your objective is simple: choose a chest containing 10G five times.
Another mini-game is Wheels; at its core, Wheels is a 1v1 mini-game where you challenge a single NPC. While the mini-games are optional, they break up the RPG gameplay and are a nice addition.
Visually, the game is beautiful; the quality of the character sprites’ animation is impressive, as is the pixel art of the environments. It’s a gorgeous-looking game, right down to the details in the overworld map. The colours pop out of the screen; they are so vibrant due to the excellent lighting usage, and I spent a lot of time stopping just to admire the surroundings.
Getting around these lovely areas is an absolute joy, with cliff climbing and many unlockable upgrades to help you navigate certain areas. Each area is very different from one another, which keeps things from feeling stale or repetitive.
Controls and Music
Sea of Stars can be played using the joy-cons on the Nintendo Switch. However, you can also remap the buttons and control sticks. At the moment, with one arm in a plaster cast, for me, being able to map the controls is a blessing, as I can’t hold a controller properly. I can play the game by only using the right joy-con and controlling the movement of the characters with the right stick.
The music accompanying your journey through Sea of Stars is another game highlight. Composed by Yasunori Mitsuda and Eric W. Brown, they have compiled a list of memorable tracks you won’t be getting out of your head anytime soon.
Conclusion – An Epic Adventure
Sea of Stars constantly finds ways to keep the story and characters interesting and surprise you with creative and fun plot twists. With over thirty hours of enjoyable gameplay, Sea of Stars might be just what you are looking for if you are a fan of RPGs. It’s definitely a Two thumbs up score from me for this gem of a game!
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up