Star Ocean The Divine Force
Six years ago, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness was the last game released in the series (not counting the mobile game released the same year). Unfortunately, that game came and went mainly because it was only released on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 as Sony exclusives. In the west, it was only released on the PS4, meaning very few people had experienced it much less heard of this title. That leaves A New Hope, released in 2009 on the 360, PS3, and a remaster on the PS4 and Windows. For many players, Star Ocean The Divine Force is the first SO game in over a decade.
At least, it is the first Star Ocean title since A New Hope that we see on PC and Xbox. A lot has changed in the Action RPG genre since A New Hope but tri-Ace remained sharp. In between A New Hope to The Divine Force, they have developed several Valkyrie games. While they had no relation in Elysium, the remastered PSP version of Valkyrie Profile is around the corner. They also developed Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Lightning Returns among others.
There isn't a concrete way to describe the gameplay of the Star Ocean games as each game is different from the other. The earlier games were on a 2D plane yet the switch to 3D gave players a bit of freedom to move around. The one and only game I played in the series, Star Ocean Til The End Of Time, featured such maneuverability. I recalled that the story was really gripping and it's one of the series' dominant traits. This is something that The Divine Force attempts to keep up. Is it a success or a bust?
The game does a fair job of answering that question right away by forcing the player to select a protagonist. With no added information (assuming that the player didn't read the case,) all you're given is the choice between a man and a woman. The man, Ray, is a mercenary who travels across space and crash-lands on a planet. This leads to the woman, Princess Laeticia of Aucerius, who is out on an expedition with her knight Albaird. The two protagonists cross paths almost immediately, with the one not chosen to join your party.
Depending on who you pick, you'll play the game through their perspective despite the other protagonist being in your party. It's not like the Fallen Legion titles where each protagonist has a separate story that occasionally intertwines. Both characters are of equal importance to the plot although some scenes will play differently due to perspective. This is a smart way to encourage players to replay your game as no two playthroughs are bound to be similar for this reason.
The gameplay takes the action RPG genre and blurs the line to the point of "action." What prevents this from being a full-on action game is the cooldown periods of skills used. The gameplay is fast and it doesn't let off the accelerator. At normal speed, you move as fast as a normal running speed in other games.
Sprinting, I kid you not, feels like Sonic the Hedgehog and if that's not enticing enough, you soon unlock the ability to attack in the air. That's right, you can glide, fly, and take to the skies like a skillful Bouncer in Phantasy Star Online 2. The map where you can test your flight ability, coincidentally, has high verticality with goodies as a reward for the inquisitive player.
There are materials high above that greatly benefit your upgrade paths, so it's best to go off the beaten path. Honestly, the transition from combat to exploration makes this an amazing Action RPG in itself. A good story is great and all, but paired with its hair-triggering gameplay, Star Ocean The Divine Force is perfect for both new players and old fans alike.
Star Ocean The Divine Force is available for Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5