Everybody loves lists, right? Well here’s one for the JRPG fans: 5 Reasons I Refuse to Review Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness.
I picked up Star Ocean in the hopes that it’d be an enjoyable action RPG. Space isn’t a theme often explored in Japanese RPGs, and Star Ocean has a reputation for being decent. It never receives critical acclaim but that’s not a deciding factor necessarily.
After a rough beginning with a poor introductory tutorial as well as questionable character models, I began to worry. Thus, the list began.
The Dialogue is Laughable
Good dialogue is hard to do. What may be more difficult is to do it as badly as Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness. After Fidel’s first conversation with the Mayor of Sthal (that’s not a typo: it’s actually Sthal), during which the Mayor refutes Fidel’s claims of bandit activity with literally no reason to do so, the cracks started to form.
Awkwardly long pauses during character interactions became commonplace, and though the frequency of these moments died down some hours in, they had left an impression. A foul taste on the tongue of thirsty JRPG enthusiasts.
The English voice acting quality is poor in comparison to the competition. Companies like Namco Bandai have taken great strides in this field, but tri-Ace not so much. Even stalwart veterans that I admire, for example Crispin Freeman as Victor Oakville, feel phoned-in. Perhaps this feeling is influenced by my being fresh off of his impressive portrayal of Shizuo Heiwajima in Durarara, but I digress.
Other characters, such as the aforementioned Mayor of Sthal, are outright terrible, and a bratty antagonist to be encountered later on is just as bad.
These Characters are Void of Life
The character models in Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness are some of the most uninspired, cookie-cutter anime boys and girls I’ve ever seen. Though the clothing is designed well, the character faces show little-to-no expression. Not to worry though; the camera will rarely move in to a position for you to notice that. Almost as if tri-Ace knew they’d dropped the ball here….
When a character wants to express any kind of emotion, they seem to perform a forward lunge. Anger, sadness, hunger: all can be expressed within a form of light exercise. Why create a realistic animation to benefit the characters when we can P90X our way to some narrative depth? No jumping jacks, it seems.
Attempts are made during the journey to add some depth to the cast, but they fall short. Very short. It’s a half-hearted attempt at the Tales Of skit system, and that brings me to my next topic.
Half a Heart in Everything it Does
Star Ocean seems confused. Does it want to be realistic? Maybe not. Final Fantasy has that corner of the market covered. Maybe it’d prefer to lean more heavily on its anime style? Except that the Tales Of games have done such a good job of embracing that. That leaves us with Star Ocean; an uninspired hybrid of the two that appears to be in the midst of an identity crisis from both a visual and gameplay perspective.
There are huge maps with nothing in them. Impressive city designs that are all show and no tell. It feels as if tri-Ace didn’t want to commit to anything and instead tried a bit of everything with no passion for it.
That Battle System Seems Coo— Nope. Mindless.
I play Dynasty Warriors religiously. I’m no stranger to mindless button mashers. What I don’t appreciate is when a game tries to mask it behind ill-conceived combat mechanics. The guard system is a complete mess, with evasions occasionally putting you IN the line of fire due to the TERRIBLE CAMERA CONTROLS IN THIS GAME.
The friendly A.I is a joke too. In a tough battle, the party will voluntarily sprint to its own death. This leads to a few minutes of Fresh Sage-and-Run Away episodes to revive them, all usually resulting in a total wipe and boot to the title screen in an archaic fashion that purists would blindly applaud.
The final straw for me came when faced with three mechanical enemies in an inescapable story battle. Tasked with defending a wide open party member, these enemies can make swift work of your entire team and have ridiculous amounts of HP. Not to worry though! You can spend a few hours running up and down a hallway to fight some basic enemies like you would back in 1997.
I’ll Never Finish it
There’s a lot of debate around “when you can review a game”. The truth is you can review it whenever you want to. It’s just a long-form opinion. In my own case, I prefer to at least feel as if I’ve experienced everything a game has to offer. That can range from 2 hours in a puzzle game or 50 hours in a JRPG.
As far as Star Ocean is concerned, I’ve only just begun to experience the “Star” part of it, and I won’t be going any further. This game has not been provided to the website, and even if it is, I’ll be refusing the code.
That said, I’m not confident I can provide the broad view our readers deserve. I can only speak to my 8 hours with the game and for me, that was enough. I can’t tell you that the story doesn’t eventually get good, though it’s safe to assume it doesn’t. Maybe the camera fixes itself at some point. Perhaps the characters get more detailed. Who knows? Not me, that’s for sure. I’ll just assume the Fidel and Friends lunge their way to victory.
The game’s not for me. It should be. It has all of what I enjoy: anime art, a huge world, an action RPG system. It’s just that none of it is executed well. It is poorly done, to be kind about it. That said, I’m fairly certain most of the budget went on Fiore’s Booty Tech. Even Miki’s shocked at the amount of squats it must have taken to reach that level 100 booty.
Seriously though, I can’t say a particularly good thing about Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness. I’ve had a terrible experience with it. If you’re so hard-up for JRPGs, go check out Tales of Zestiria. It’s not the best example of a Tales Of game, but it’s good enough. Better than this, at least.
Hell, play Odin Sphere Leifthrasir. Enter the Gungeon is amazing. There are too many games at more reasonable price points for Star Ocean to be commanding any of your time. Still, if you’re enjoying it, more power to you.
If you’ll excuse me, I have Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and Lego Star Wars to attend to. Thank you for reading.