Star Ocean: The Divine Force (PlayStation 5) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 16.05.2023

Review for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on PlayStation 5

Star Ocean: The Divine Force is the latest entry in the Star Ocean JRPG franchise by Tri-Ace. The series seemed to be on a bit of a downturn after a couple of less successful games. This latest entry drummed up a lot of hype during its development cycle and was released to decent fanfare in October 2022. Will this game be the one to help the series reach the stars again?

Booting up, players' ears are assaulted by an undoubtedly cool rock opening that is ultimately a bit oddly unfitting. Once this gives way, they'll be greeted by the Star Ocean theme which is a terrific rendition. The campaign allows players to pick either Ray or Laeticia and from there the story will unfold down their respective paths with players assuming control of either lead for the duration of the game. Laeticia is a princess, currently undercover, investigating the location of a disgraced soldier to help save her kingdom. Raymond is a star travelling merchant whose ship gets shot down, he wakes up and finds Laeticia and together they investigate and look for his ship mates. Ray's adventure opens on that now series' typical spaceship bridge, shortly before he's shot down. This does mean there are scenes worth seeing in both campaigns. It's a great way to incentivise at least one other playthrough. The game's length is quite short for a big JRPG, however this benefits the story as the pacing is quite a bit faster. It's really great.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on PlayStation 5

Star Ocean lives in collective memories as one of those old JRPGs and is incorrectly tied to turn-based combat on occasion. However, the series has always had action combat but in arenas. What the current title does is it removes the concept of "entering battle" and instead just has action RPG combat on the world map with attacks limited by AP that need to charge. Skills are mapped to the face buttons and players have to remember to manage their AP or be at the mercy of the enemies. There is also a set of abilities unlocked at the end of the introduction that allow for a host of things, like increased mobility and parries. It's a compelling system and the more it's used the deeper it gets.

The world is quite big but not "open-world" like many thought it would be! Instead, each area is split by a loading screen which is great as it allows for each area to be totally visually distinct and lit differently. One of the early dungeons is a very interesting area, showing strides in the level design in the series by offering some vertical challenge rather than keeping everything on a flat plain. This is possible thanks to DUMA, the aforementioned extension to the skills. This AI grants the ability for the main character to hop and glide which opens access to some truly freeing exploration. There are also quite a few moments where players can use a bit of initiative to find treasure by breaking environmental items or walls that aren't marked, which means it feels great to discover them.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on PlayStation 5

Character models and some character animations are exceedingly pretty. It's an excellent visual style. All the models have vibrant colours, interesting clothing with layers of animated fabric and shiny armour. Their animations can be very stiff at times but it's always endearing. Main party characters have insane detail versus their NPC counterparts but the NPCs are also very fitting in the world created. It's hard not to love the characters from a visual standpoint, especially the glossy expressive eyes and how light reacts to their models.

The world is a vibrant and interesting semi-grounded Sci-Fi romp. Exploring is great fun and makes the most of the rolling hills, craggy caves and grassy meadows. All of these "biomes" are represented wonderfully with loads of detail and animations, though sadly not reactive animations when characters run through foliage. Towns have received similar levels of detail; they are really beautifully crafted showing just how far the Star Ocean designs have come since the previous game.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on PlayStation 5

This is all supported by killer music by the Star Ocean series composer Motoi Sakuraba. The music carries all aspects of the title with lilting melodies and fierce battle tracks that really capture the JRPG battle theme's feeling. This music elevates most of the facets of the game. Speaking of sound, the English localisation can be a bit stiff at times with line delivery being a bit odd; it's good but not great. Unfortunately, for those wanting to play in Japanese, a lot of dialogue happens during exploration and battle so listening in a native tongue is more likely to portray the events of the game to the player correctly. This is in no means a deal breaker, but it is a shame that it's not a killer dub.

The only technical hitch is that the game has two visual settings: "Prioritise Image Quality" and "Prioritise Framerate". The Quality mode is razor sharp and is great for screenshots, but the framerate is unstable or badly optimised, meaning it stutters, especially during exploration. Framerate mode is a flawless 60fps mode that is a little softer on the edges but it highlights all the nice little animations and helps reduce input lag during fights. It's heavily recommended by this reviewer.

Screenshot for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

This is the best new Star Ocean game in a good while. Star Ocean: The Divine Force makes great use of the power of current gen consoles to create a visually great world and incredibly pretty, almost doll-like characters. The story is a nice short-ish length and is compelling enough to drive the player forward. If a fantasy Sci-Fi mash-up sounds good then this game is an absolute no-brainer, go get it!




Square Enix


Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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