It’s been almost a decade since e last got a proper Star Ocean title. In fact, Star Ocean is one of the only Japanese Role Playing Game to release this generation and it’s welcoming return is both appreciated and leaves a slightly disappointing taste in your mouth. Regardless, Star Ocean is back and it feels very much like the last game in the series, for better and worse.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness seems like an almost copy and paste from the previous game that released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This would normally result in a massive disappointment but due to the fact that Star Ocean’s structure feels quite different to any of its contemporaries, this doesn’t feel as impactful to the overall experience. That being said, you will very quickly fall into a routine should you have played the previous games that results in a lack of motivation the further you go.
The game’s story begins in a village which he protects was first attacked by a neighbouring village and he must first protect his own. It is then he encounters a quite amnesiac girl called Relia with his best friend Miki and they must try to uncover who she is or where she is from. The game’s storyline takes place between The Second Story and Till the End of Time and you play as Fidel on an undeveloped world who comes into first contact with a more advanced space travelling race.
The story itself isn’t memorable whatsoever. Dialogue and cut-scenes even are delivered in-engine, and a lot of the time still in-game means these moments just feel blended into the regularly gameplay, reducing any drama or conflict. This was clearly done to cut costs for the development but it then means that there is no sense of major moments or character development. While there is some development of the protagonists, they fall into cliché, like the rest of the story.
Gameplay is very pretty much identical to the last title in the series as action takes precedence. It’s fast and fluid for the most part while you use just a few buttons to unleash regular and powerful attacks, shield, and dodge. You can switch between your party’s characters at any point and can feel quite different from one character to another.
Levelling is pretty fast as you will regularly level up after couple of battles for the first six or so hours. When you level up you receive new roles to assign to your characters with each one available to equip four. There is no major impact to levelling up but your standard stats will grow, although it’s not clear how much which ones grow. The accelerated levelling goes in line with the shorter playtime so don’t expect ridiculous level numbers.
While the gameplay itself feels fine, the camera is awful. Quite often, when a battle gets hectic, you can’t see anything at all as the camera drops far to low and both characters and the environment restrict and in some situations completely block your view of the battlefield.
Visually, it ranges from visually stunning to absolutely terrible. Some assets like the main characters enemies, and some locations look quite lovely. While not a technical showpiece, there are some moments, especially in some of the locations you’ll visit that are attention grabbing that will cause you to pause in place and take in the sometimes stunning artwork. Unfortunately, the textures on show range from pretty nice to PlayStation 2 level of detail with blurry and very little details applied to them. One of the clearest places to see this is on the doors in the starting village, they simply look awful.
With its short playthrough of around 20 hours, Star Ocean Faithlessness and Integrity feels more like a nice distraction rather than the return of great JRPGs. There was a chance to make this a triumphant return and in some ways it is. I’ve really missed the world and gameplay but it doesn’t do enough to make it an essential purchase for any except those needing a decent JRPG. I enjoyed my time but I will also walk away from it without a consideration of returning anytime soon.