Sea of Stars: A Throwback RPG with Engaging Combat and Exploration
If you’re looking for an RPG that avoids grinding and random battles, Sea of Stars is a delightful surprise. Developed by Sabotage Studios and published by Humble Bundle, the game’s combat is engaging and challenging, with well-balanced encounters that keep me invested for hours.
If you’re a fan of Chrono Trigger-like games that emphasise story over gameplay, there’s still a chance you’ll enjoy Sea of Stars. I, however, am not, and I’m still having a blast with the game’s combat and exploration. If you’re like me and you prefer gameplay over story, then Sea of Stars will probably be right up your alley.
In Sea of Stars, you choose between two characters to embark on a quest to defend the world: Zale and Valere. The story itself serves its purpose of guiding you through an entertaining experience, but you won’t find any deep or complex characters here.
Despite this, the gameplay keeps me invested, as the design of combat, enemies, and dungeons keeps me consistently engaged. Each character has their own individual attacks and combos, encouraging players to strategically think about which one to use in each situation. Mixing and matching between Zale and Valere can also help you discover new combos.
In fact, Sea of Stars incorporates timers in battles, adding a sense of urgency to each encounter and forcing me to physically move my controller during certain moves. The game also introduces new monsters often enough to keep me on my toes, forcing me to switch up my strategy as I learn their attack patterns.
Sea of Stars borrows heavily from the best elements of SNES RPGs and 2D Zelda, combining moderate puzzle-solving with enemy-filled dungeons. The game also includes some enjoyable mini-games, such as fishing and a hybrid slot and dueling game that keeps me engaged between story beats.
The game falters in its town design, as each area lacks personality and interaction. Many of the closed-off buildings don’t do much to entice me to explore, as I often see nothing but a few NPCs wandering around. I also find myself forgetting specific tasks given to me because there’s no quest log.
The game’s story also doesn’t do much to stand out, as the protagonists are rather conventional and lack personality. Zale and Valere each offer a slightly different take on the same archetype, but I find myself more interested in their trusted friend, Garl. He stands out as a more interesting character simply because he offers a bit more personality, as well as a unique gameplay role that’s important to the story.
Sea of Stars’s biggest strength lies in its visuals, as each area is vibrant and unique. The dungeons especially keep me intrigued as I explore each one, finding new paths and surprises around every corner. The music also adds to the upbeat atmosphere, as the soundtrack, composed by Eric W. Brown and Yasunori Mitsuda, includes a mix of relaxing and exciting tracks.
Despite the lack of character depth, I’m still having fun with Sea of Stars, as the gameplay keeps me engaged throughout my initial playthrough. The game’s lack of a quest log can be frustrating at times, and the town design doesn’t help entice exploration either. Despite these issues, the gameplay keeps me invested, and I’ll likely come back to play through a New Game Plus once I’ve finished the story.
If you’re looking for a solid gaming experience with no major flaws, Sea of Stars might be for you.