It’ll take me quite a while to get through Sea of Stars, but if my first impressions are anything to go by, it’s going to be a hell of an adventure. This latest indie RPG comes from Quebec’s Sabotage Studio, the developers of the acclaimed The Messenger.
The developers were kind enough to send over a review key for me to look at the game. I’ve been plugging away at it over the past couple of days, with about 12 hours of progress done. Given that I’m not even halfway done, it’s easy to expect the review will take some time.
But one thing’s for sure: Sea of Stars is living up to the hype and then some. It’s a grand and engaging adventure that’s satisfying in its combat and enticing in its story. And despite a few incredibly minor issues that will hopefully be patched out, it’s set its hooks deep into me already.
Fire of the sun, light of the moon
Let’s talk about the combat first. I already had an idea of how this played, thanks to the demo released back in February. In practice, it’s already been a consistently fun and rewarding combat system, and I can see it appealing to both retro fans and newbies.
Much has been made of the game’s comparisons to games like Super Mario RPG, Illusion of Gaia, and Chrono Trigger. And they’re certainly warranted; any fan of 90s RPGs will be right at home here. I also got a substantial whiff of Mario & Luigi in it, especially with the combo moves. You have to juggle a few factors at once, including elemental weaknesses, enemy positions, charging enemy attacks, and available magic points and boost power.
While it’s a deep and layered combat system, it’s also very approachable. If you’ve never played an RPG before, Sea of Stars would be an excellent first choice. You can grasp the core concept very easily, and there aren’t so many mechanics and meters to keep track of that it’s overwhelming. The biggest challenge is determining the optimal strategy, which requires paying close attention in the heat of battle.
Feeling like a star
Sea of Stars immediately made a stir thanks to its wonderful aesthetics. You’ve probably already noticed the lovely pixel art through these screenshots, and in action, the game looks absolutely stunning. With beautiful color palettes and some excellent music tracks, it’s already a heavily absorbing adventure.
More than its aesthetics, though, I’m also really into the story and characters so far. With a wacky pirate crew, some excellent party members, and an old order of the Solstice Warriors to talk to, there’s plenty of love and care into these characters. I’ve gotten quite a bit ahead of the introduction, so I won’t be writing any story spoilers here.
Just know that the game takes maybe an hour or two to get going, and then a couple more hours to REALLY get going. For a game that’s expected to take about 25 to 30 hours with no side content, there’s hopefully plenty more great story bits and characters to come.
If there’s one aspect I can criticize Sea of Stars for, it’s that the dialogue needed a bit of a tune-up. Not the words themselves, but rather the grammar; there’s a few typos that needed ironing out. That’s something that could easily be fixed with a few patches, although of course, it’s not the most important factor. I haven’t encountered any other bugs so far, and hopefully that will remain the same throughout the rest of my playthrough!
Sea of Stars shines in its first impressions
I’m happy to report that my first impressions of Sea of Stars are highly positive. The combat is engrossing for both RPG veterans and newcomers, and it’s a beautiful game filled with charming characters and storylines. And while the text perhaps needed one last proofread, it’s hardly enough to take you out of the adventure.
Sea of Stars is developed and published by Sabotage Studio. It is available now for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC via Steam. You can also play it via Xbox and PC Game Pass. A free demo is available to play right now.
The digital version costs $34.99 USD. A physical version for Nintendo Switch is on the way, but Sabotage Studio hasn’t announced a price yet.
Thanks to Tinsley PR and Sabotage Studio for providing a review key!