Tri-Ace is a development studio responsible for producing several JRPG gems over the years, but its name is perhaps most easily recognized in relation to the long-running franchise it created: Star Ocean. Now, over 25 years after that classic debuted in Japan, the developer has crafted a sixth proper installment. Star Ocean: The Divine Force pays homage to much of what has made the series a delight from the start, while introducing additional elements that offer a compelling experience to an audience that might be unfamiliar with past triumphs.
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Star Ocean: The Divine Force, like previous entries in the franchise, introduces a seemingly conventional world littered with fantasy tropes, but immediately crashes the gate by introducing a guy and his escape pod. This blend of the standard and the less expected proves fertile ground for the writers, who populate their fantastic world with a cast of memorable characters. These include a rebellious princess, a resentful wise man, a young healer with dreams of healing her world from a plague that rages out of control, and various others.
A diverse cast keeps proceedings lively during the story’s earliest hours, during which time players might be excused for wondering if they have stumbled across a Dragon Quest orTales game simply called by a different name. Besides being fully voiced by a competent cast, the detailed character models are animated well and prove quite expressive. In the best of moments, they convey complex emotions with the tilt of an eyebrow, an averted glance, or a shrug, even if the volume is muted. Unfortunately, sometimes those movements are exaggerated, which causes characters to come across as hyper or comical. The artists also clearly paid a lot of attention to hair, but maybe not quite enough, and the result proves distracting at odd moments.
The art team spent a lot of time on the environments, as well. Aster IV, home planet to most of the central…