Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (PlayStation 4) Review

By Ian Soltes 17.08.2016 4

Review for Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness on PlayStation 4

The Star Ocean franchise has been one of the more interesting series of RPG's throughout gaming history. Taking the traditional action RPG set-up and mixing it with sci-fi elements it is hard to find a series truly comparable to it. While it is often considered to be the 'sister series' to the "Tales" games, it never seemed to be quite as popular in the west. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness attempted to fix this and decided to do it… by basically reading off of Tales' homework notes.

When it comes to the idea of science fiction or fantasy, there are many constants that are and usually found within. The use of technology, the desire to try and make the mundane fantastic, the odds that wearing red will likely result in you being murdered by a warrior race of aliens or eaten by a dragon all being prime examples. The Star Ocean series brought in a surprising new take on this in which the two genres met up, and it walked a fine, but distinct, line that earned it its dedicated fans, as well as its own unique place in gaming libraries. Travelling across multiple planets, dealing with the implications of the use of technology on planets not ready for it, going in radical new directions for humankind's future, and so-forth, all became mainstays. However, Star Ocean 5 went out and decided to change all that and try to do it for the better. Did it work? Sort of? Ehhh…

Taking place on the planet Faykreed, the story follows one Fidel Camuze; a swordsman in a kingdom at war. However, the enemy has recently gained a bizarre new magical weapon the likes of which have not been seen on Faykreed before, and soon, he along with several friends, end up stumbling upon a young girl named Relia, who possesses some truly immense powers that not even the leading experts fully understand. It seems like it could be interesting. With the first two Star Ocean titles restricted to only those whom own old consoles or who have a PSP, and the third and fourth games focusing on people who have the technology to explore worlds, it seems like a prime chance to sit down and offer an opinion on what would really happen if advanced technology and symbology (this universe's version of magic) came to an under-developed planet and see it through their eyes.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness on PlayStation 4

Then the big problems start popping up. Those will be discussed soon, but some other things should be mentioned first. First off, this made two radical promises as to new features. The first was that combat would happen right there on the field, not on a separate battle screen or arena, and with the entire party partaking at once, as opposed to a pre-set max party size that kept some out. Secondly, the game would feature cut-scenes that would happen without the need for them to be actual 'cut-scenes,' since the player could move around and the like as they played out.

As for the first, the game actually manages to pull it off extremely well! Tales of Zestiria made a similar promise, but what that resulted in was dungeons that felt artificially enhanced to make the space big enough without really adding anything, making the whole exercise feel pointless and ultimately harmful to the experience - not to mention that only four people could be on the field in a party of six, and two were effectively forced onto the field regardless.

In Star Ocean 5, however, it works great! Some real effort went into the design and this does not shy away from the notion of cramped space, so that, even though most of the battles will take place in an area large enough for movement, there will be the occasional cramped area and, more importantly, the zones and dungeons feel natural. To top it off, with the entire party being able to fight at once, it feels great with the battles coming off as fairly large scale and, in several fights, feeling like an actual war is going on.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness on PlayStation 4

It only suffers from one, painful setback, in that only four skills can be set at once. One for short-ranged, fast and heavy, and one for long-ranged, fast and heavy. This results in battles developing a repetitive feel, with little reason to move beyond basics. Regardless, though, the battles are fairly good, and the change here was well-done. Even though it loses some of the distinction that its prior entries had, it more than overcomes them with quality and generally being fun. The second is the cut-scenes, and here is where the problems start popping up. The idea is simple: instead of treating mini-movie-like cut-scenes, let the player move around and the like during them. The result, however, is underwhelming.

Firstly, not all cut-scenes follow this rule so, even if it excelled, it wouldn't be true to its own statement. More directly, however, is that this results in a lot of cut-scenes feeling disengaging, distant, and uninteresting, while the only reason to really do anything is because it requires movement. So many instances of this are unneeded and it really ruins the mood to have a serious cut-scene in which Fidel suddenly decides to walk in squiggly lines or in circles around the person he's talking to before hitting an invisible wall.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness on PlayStation 4

Lastly, this also applies to the games personal interactions. These are Star Ocean's take on skits from the Tales series, and, in prior games, they were distinctly different. While skits played out with little sprite-boxes, PAs could reach the level of cut-scenes. However, by changing to this new system, it makes it so that hunting down each of the PAs is a serious chore, since entering and leaving places again and again to mull through them all because the actors need to get to new spots, becomes a chore as opposed to an enjoyment. Not to mention that not only it adds nothing, but it ends up feels uninteresting on the whole.

Now for the big problem: the story. On its own, the fifth Star Ocean could have an acceptable plot. Dealing with the warring kingdoms and the impact futuristic tech can have would be well enough. Even the inclusion of getting involved in an inter-stellar conflict as a result isn't too bad, even if it feels a bit disjointed. The problem, however, is the phrase "Star Ocean." This feels like a title that remained faithful to the classic fantasy game despite its sci-fi elements, but never really rises up to the uniqueness that the series is known for. People may whine about a certain event or two in Star Ocean: The Last Hope, but there is no denying that this at least felt in the same ballpark as the rest of the series.

Even if it was poorly handled it could be seen as to why it was happening and the implications it could have down the line. In Star Ocean 5, however, it feels disconnected from the rest of the series' universe. If it wasn't for the title and some name-drops, it seems entirely likely that someone who played this would not think it part of the previous games. On its own, it's a decent enough sci-fi fantasy story, but it doesn't feel connected to the over-arching series. A side-title rather than a main one.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Wiping away the Star Ocean part off of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, this is actually pretty decent. It's a standard fantasy RPG that tried out some new ideas, did well in some, faltered at others, but came out easily on the fun side. However, remembering what series this title is actually in, it feels more like the development crew tried to read off of the Tales series' homework notes, but didn't manage to fully copy them down. Their competence saves it from failure, but it feels like they were trying to copy from another series and didn't really try to give it the distinct Star Ocean feel it should have. Decent, enjoyable, but not a "true" Star Ocean.

Developer

Tri-Ace

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This is, arguably, my most anticipated game of the year.  Ever since Till The End Of Time I've been an adamant fan of the series, so I'm glad to see it did as well as it did.

It does well so long as you're playing it as an RPG. As a Star Ocean game...

Well...

I can see some fans liking it (I did), but I can fully understand why some others won't. They do have some points (and some really stupid ones) and I ended up on the 'liked it' side.

7 seems generous.  If this was going by any other name perhaps, but being a 'star ocena' it truly deserves like a 5, I couldn't even finish it. I loved the series too.

That's perfectly fine. I disagree but I can see where you're coming from. I just felt that people who went out and denounced it, knocking off one or two points because 'it isn't Star Ocean' were over-reacting, not giving the game enough credit, and even outright ignoring its positives in favor of a negative echo-chamber.

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