I love it when a game exceeds all the expectations I had for it, and believe me, Sea of Stars delivered everything I hoped for and more. I already had a lot of buzz for the game, especially since it came from the team behind the brilliant The Messenger, but man… I was completely blown away by just how good this thrilling RPG adventure is.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Sea of Stars tells the story of Valere and Zale, who’ve both trained to become Solstice Warriors that use the power of the moon and sun in order to perform a special kind of magic. After studying, training, and sewing (seriously) in the Zenith Academy for many years, they venture out across the world to defeat creatures known as Dwellers, which remain a lingering threat left behind by a villain known as The Fleshmancer. With their lovable bestie Garl joining them along their journey, it doesn’t take long before their mission becomes more drastic and entwined with an even greater threat that the duo has to stop.
I absolutely LOVED Sea of Stars’ storytelling. Whilst there are plenty of typical RPG narrative tropes found across the adventure, they’re all delivered in a charming manner that ensures players will never tire of some of the more formulaic moments. It helps that the main cast is SO likable, with plenty of colourful personalities to encounter along the journey that each have their own special little place in the world. And, of course, there are plenty of situations you’ll encounter in the game that feel wholly unique too, with the world full of zany locales and moments that help ensure your journey to the end is a memorable one.
It’s all complemented by some wonderful writing that makes it easy to completely invest yourself in each interaction you share in-game. There are moments of humour, moments of excitement, moments of self-doubt, moments of darkness, and moments of sadness, but they’re all conveyed in a well-written way that ensures they never lose that spark of intrigue to keep players drawn into the adventure. It’s rare I find myself interacting with every single character I encounter in an RPG, but I just didn’t want to miss any detail across the game’s mesmerising world.
“It looks absolutely gorgeous thanks to some rich and detailed pixel art, whilst the soundtrack is one of the best I’ve heard in an RPG for a long, long time.”
One of my favourite aspects of Sea of Stars is the combat, with the turn-based showdowns adding a few clever little twists to each action to ensure it never gets boring. For one, a well-timed button press when attacking or defending from attacks can increase their effect, meaning you can either land an additional hit or reduce some of the damage being dealt to you. It keeps players on their toes and means there’s always something to be alert of. The skills you use also bring with them some additional QTE-style mechanics to make them more effective. For example, Valere’s ‘Moonerang’ attack acts as a boomerang (clue is in the name) and comes back to her after hitting an enemy, but if she deflects it with a button press, it’ll then launch at another enemy whilst continually building in speed to increase the challenge of deflecting it – if you get your button presses spot on, you’ll land some serious damage across multiple enemies at the same time. On the other hand, Zale’s ‘Sunball’ attack will grow in size when the player holds a button down, and if they release it at the right time, they’ll inflict additional damage. That’s just naming a few early examples too, with your expanding party and skillset continually offering additional mechanics to ensure attacks bring with them an extra form of interactivity. It’s a cool feature that ensures battles add a fun little twist to the turn-based action.
There are other clever ideas too, such as each enemy having a turn timer in place that’ll let you know when they’re going to attack. This gives players the opportunity to strategize and determine who they want to try and take down first, or alternatively prepare for the impending attack from a particularly dangerous foe. Some enemy attacks bring with them a selection of icons that represent different attack types too (such as an element or weapon type) – if you manage to use each of these attacks against them before their turn-timer runs out, you’ll completely cancel their attack. Again, it’s a creative idea that adds an extra element of strategy to each battle, with players then able to shape their attacks and turn-order to try and impede their enemies. There’s also an emphasis placed on exploiting enemy positions so that your attacks hit multiple foes at once, whilst you’ll also build up a combo meter that allows you to hit special attacks with specified characters that can be real game changers. And the ultimate attacks you can inflict later on in the game? They’re class.
There’s a heck of a lot going on and it makes for an exciting combat system that never grows old, whilst the varied enemy designs and creative boss encounters ensure there are thrills aplenty as you explore the vast world. Plus, it has one feature that I ESPECIALLY loved: shared levelling. Rather than levelling up your characters individually, they all share one experience bar that sees each one level up at the same time (players can even apply bonus stat boosts with each level-up which is great). It keeps your party balanced and encourages a bit of experimentation without risking seeing any of your characters fall behind with their skillset.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Another stand out feature of the game is the level design, with each area full of little nooks and crannies to explore and secrets to uncover. There’s a big focus placed on scaling the terrain too, with players rarely sticking to flat ground and constantly climbing and jumping around – it might not sound that exciting on paper, but it encourages further exploration where more nifty players might be able to uncover some hidden treasure chest (and believe me, there are PLENTY of them). The dungeon design is superb too, with each bringing with them some clever puzzling elements that break up the constant slew of battles. Admittedly, the puzzles are never too complex to solve, but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun. It makes exploration all the more rewarding and ensures players won’t tire of the typical RPG loop of exploring a dungeon, killing some baddies, completing some quests, and repeating.
It’s just an absolutely sublime experience, so much so that I found it hard to put down my controller when I was playing. I often find myself feeling a little burnt out when playing an RPG for too long, but Sea of Stars’ wonderful world design, intriguing storytelling, and exciting combat kept me hooked in for hours on end. I just ALWAYS wanted to keep playing… it’s that good. And hey, I haven’t even mentioned some of the smaller features such as the cooking, the fishing, the addictive mini-game called Wheels, and the array of side quests to complete. There’s a heck of a lot going on in the game, but believe me, you’ll want to see all of it.
And the cherry on top? It looks absolutely gorgeous thanks to some rich and detailed pixel art, whilst the soundtrack is one of the best I’ve heard in an RPG for a long, long time. The screenshots simply don’t do it justice with each landscape looking dazzling in game (and full of little details that make them feel alive), whilst the music in is flawless and captures each scene and locale perfectly.
Sea of Stars Review
Sea of Stars is an unmissable RPG that blends together wonderful storytelling, captivating gameplay, and dazzling audio and visuals into one masterful package. Honestly, I was utterly enthralled by the whole experience from start to end, with every aspect of the game’s design perfectly crafted to ensure it keeps the player completely hooked in. Whether you’re encountering one of the game’s charming characters for the first time, fighting through a challenging boss battle that puts your skills to the test, or simply admiring one of the many majestic sights of the world whilst some beautiful music plays in the background, it’s hard not to be blown away by the wonders of Sea of Stars.
Developer: Sabotage Studio
Publisher: Sabotage Studio
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch