JRPGs feels a bit like paint by numbers. All the elements that make a JRPG great are there but are simply things that have been seen a million times.
Story is arguably the most important part of a JRPG and Star Ocean usually shines on that front by blending together fantasy elements with Star Trek-esque sci-fi, but in Divine Force there is something that’s just missing. Around the 20 hour mark where the party began to march headlong into war to stop a princess from marrying the villain from the other side (I’ve heard this all before) I found myself checking out of the game more and more during the storytelling elements until eventually I found myself heading towards an objective with no idea what was happening anymore. Star Ocean: The Divine Forces story had just stopped interesting me.
Divine Force also seems to be missing a lot of the sci-fi elements that makes the series special, aside from one of the protagonists. His friend and their robot companion being shot down from space and stranded. At around the 30 hour mark it started to insinuate that the villains are also off-worlders but it’s taken so long to get to a point of including sci-fi, it feels like if Kingdom Hearts took 30 hours before it showed any Disney. It’s just not matching the personality of the rest of the series.
After playing through the recent Xenoblade Chronicles games, I have grown accustomed to a vibrant world map that’s filled to the brim with life. That simply isn’t present in Divine Force, instead most of the games maps are made up of empty fields with no reason to explore other than to get from point A to point B. There are a few chests and other collectible items dotted around, sure, but not once did I feel the need to explore and find any of these at all.
The combat in Star Ocean is quite par for the course for the series and is in a similar vein to the Tales Of games. This is where the game really shines as the complex battle system built around creating mapped button combos had me strategising how I build my team after each crushing defeat at the hands (or mouths) of one of the games many, many boss fights.
One element I loved was the ability to craft items, using alchemy to create ore that’s better than the last before switching to another character and creating immense weaponry proved exciting at all times and had me constantly farming the games empty overworlds for new items. Divine Force does feature a board based strategy minigame which I got a little addicted too, and helped me progress through some of the more boring story moments better than the game itself did.
All in, I had a lot of fun PLAYING Star Ocean: The Divine Force, despite the dry story and boring open worlds. It’s still 100% better than Integrity and Faithlessness so if you are looking to scratch that Star Ocean itch then I can definitely recommend the game and score it
7 / 10
Written by Luke.
Edited by Alexx.