Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure is the sixth main entry in tri-Ace’s and Sq. Enix’s JRPG franchise. It’s additionally celebrating its twenty fifth anniversary, which is becoming, since that is the primary time I’ve performed a Star Ocean sport since 1999’s The Second Story. I nonetheless do not forget that title vividly, from attempting to see all Personal Actions as Claude to pondering if I ought to decide Bowman or Summary, in addition to questioning how I may recruit Chisato.
I digress. The purpose is, that sport holds a particular place in my reminiscence, as I genuinely cherished it. And so, right here I’m, taking a look at whether or not The Divine Pressure can recapture that magic, and if it may stand tall amongst giants of this style.
Fantasy meets futuristic
A reasonably frequent narrative hook within the Star Ocean titles is the assembly between a extremely superior starfaring civilization and the inhabitants of an underdeveloped planet. This happens proper firstly of the marketing campaign. Raymond, a captain of a service provider starship, crash lands on a planet known as Aster IV. There, he encounters Laeticia, a princess of a close-by kingdom. This Twin Protagonist system helps you to see the plot unfold via the eyes of your chosen foremost character. Whereas a lot of the narrative arc has overlaps, there are segments the place you’d discover how key occasions transpire based mostly on that character’s perspective.
Alongside the way in which, you’ll meet the remainder of the celebration, reminiscent of Albaird, Laeticia’s over-protective knight, the android Elena, a gifted and pragmatic engineer named Midas, and a ship lieutenant named Marielle Kenny (a descendant of Claude Kenny from The Second Story). Every character leans towards their background, so you possibly can count on a number of chuckles at any time when the Aster natives confer with high-tech contraptions relative to on a regular basis objects of their world or at any time when the futuristic people are clueless about fantasy and magic.
Drained tropes and stiff postures
Nonetheless, Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure‘s marketing campaign does have some obvious flaws. The primary of those is the sluggish and considerably redundant pacing of the story. For the primary few hours, you’ll backtrack to and from the identical areas, oftentimes to finish a secular activity or have a dialogue dialog. All these situations happen in a while as effectively, even when issues are beginning to decide up. Furthermore, you possibly can count on some drained tropes and predictable sequences all through (although there is likely to be a few surprises a lot later).
One other apparent drawback is how character animations and fashions seem wood and stiff. Within the overwhelming majority of cutscenes, you’ll discover how everybody tends to have their arms at their sides. There are exceptions, in fact, such because the picture seen beneath. Sadly, it’s as if the developer simply determined to stay to the idle pose. In supposedly epic moments, I couldn’t assist however really feel the utter lifelessness, to the purpose that it turned immersion-breaking.
Wind beneath my wings
Early within the marketing campaign, your celebration recovers D.U.M.A., an AI-powered drone that enables your energetic character to carry off and glide. This is without doubt one of the finest options in Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure, because it provides verticality to normal exploration.
This isn’t an open-world title, thoughts you, however sure areas are huge. Likewise, there are collectible factors and chests that may solely be discovered in the event you look exhausting sufficient. One other deal with is the way it virtually replaces common on-foot motion. Why accept sprinting, when you possibly can quickly fly or zip throughout fields with ease?
Maybe probably the most noteworthy consider The Divine Pressure is how D.U.M.A., or the Vanguard Assault (V.A.), makes for extremely dynamic fight engagements. The actual-time battle system is one thing I cherished from The Second Story, and, this time round, I used to be impressed by the fast assaults and fast-paced combos that might be unleashed.
As an illustration, you possibly can glide round and blindside enemies, gorgeous them and gaining a lift. Consequently, your different celebration members might need assigned abilities that may trigger them to obliterate the goal. Moreover, you possibly can freely swap between characters to make use of their very own talents or pause the sport in the event you want to difficulty orders manually. There’s additionally the “Vatting” choice, which is akin to a restrict break or final, with a gauge that everybody shares.
And, in fact, character development itself is essentially player-friendly. You’ll be able to construct somebody to tailor-fit your wants by way of a Sphere Grid/License Board-esque panel, including the energetic abilities, passives, and stat boosts that you simply want. You might also stage up these talents, together with those used for crafting.
Maybe my solely gripe, combat-wise, is how one teammate, Nina, tends to be very inconsistent because the devoted healer. There have been instances when her AI would do its finest to maintain your group alive, and moments after I desperately needed to babysit her or manually management her simply to be on the protected aspect. I can’t inform if that’s as a result of her wonky AI or if I must tweak my setup additional.
Stuff on the aspect
Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure has its personal minigame known as Es’owa. You’ll use your collected pawns, pitting them in opposition to one other NPC’s choice. The motion takes place on a board, whereby every pawn or piece has its personal impact. To be sincere, I didn’t actually get the grasp of this. I solely tried a few matches, nevertheless it didn’t pique my curiosity.
I ought to point out, although, that you simply’re going to run into Welch. A recurring character within the collection, Welch will name upon you to fetch particular objects for her. Every time you full a activity, it’ll unlock a brand new crafting operate. These vary from creating potions and bombs to new equipment and stat combos. RNG is a given, naturally, so that you’ll depend on luck if you’d like the very best rolls. In my case, I stacked a bunch of XP boosters and a bonus modifier to shortly stage up the celebration member that had these objects geared up.
Lastly, Personal Actions (PAs) will be completed by your foremost character. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any indicator as to when a brand new PA will be initiated in a metropolis. There are circumstances when your hero could be left on their very own, and also you’d don’t have any clue if a brand new PA awaits you or in the event you’re simply working round aimlessly solely to obtain a generic reply.
No matter what Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure brings to the desk, the most important draw back is the atrocious efficiency that I skilled. With an Nvidia RTX 3080 and an Intel i9-10900K, I had anticipated top-of-the-line outcomes. Sadly, I’ve been plagued with stuttering woes proper from the second I began my run. It didn’t actually matter that some landscapes within the background had been lovely to behold, or that I may chain a number of assault strings in battle. In some circumstances, my character was simply working down a slender hall in a really small space, and I’d discover frequent dips.
Within the e-mail that we obtained together with the evaluate code, we had been informed that the sport performs the “pre-shader cache compilation processing” the primary time it launches. Little did I do know that the entire thing didn’t work and it needed to be completed manually. That information got here from a Steam discussion board submit that I solely noticed a few days in the past. As such, although it alleviated the problems considerably, it got here a little bit too late in my playthrough to have any significant impression.
This was additionally barely compounded by the truth that this port doesn’t have a hard and fast fullscreen or viable borderless choice. Selecting fullscreen would immediately swap to windowed mode the second I alt-tabbed, and choosing borderless prevented me from alt-tabbing fully. All in all, Star Ocean: The Divine Pressure didn’t measure as much as what I had anticipated it to be. If its predecessor from 20 years in the past was one thing that I keep in mind fondly to today, then that is extra of a forgettable foray.