At the risk of sounding cliche, Sea Of Stars made me feel like a kid again. And I really mean that; while playing this game, I warped back to an era where I’d turn the TV to channel 4 to get my Nintendo games to appear on the screen before I’d dive into games like Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger. Developer Sabotage Studio’s ability to conjure the feelings of the past in a modern game astounds me, but it’s obvious a lot of hard work and due diligence has paid off here. Sea Of Stars reflects the best of a bygone era, and it does so with a quality that makes it stand out not only among the giants of the past, but also among those in the present day.
Sea Of Stars is a turn-based RPG and a prequel to The Messenger, Sabotage Studio’s other retro-tinged romp that focused on 2D Metroidvania elements. The story follows Zale and Valere, two children of destiny who train to become Solstice Warriors, aka mighty fighters who wield the power of the sun and moon. Zale represents the sun, while Valere takes on the powers of the moon. Right away, the game establishes that these two will be inseparable for the entire adventure, but it allows players to choose which of the two party members they want to take the lead, though the choice only affects which character is at the front of the line during the adventure. I like this flexibility, as it gives the player a small bit of agency in an otherwise linear story experience.
Zale and Valere take on a years-long struggle between the Solstice Warriors and The Fleshmancer, a standard RPG villain who wants to take the world for themselves by any means necessary, which for them means summoning powerful demons and unleashing them on the innocent. The villains are a colorful bunch, ranging from a shadowy quartet named One, Two, Three, and Four who are pulling strings behind the scenes, to a necromancer named Romaya who makes creatures from spare bones and flesh piles during our battle. While the story does take some turns I didn’t see coming, for the most part I was able to call out story beats before they happened. I still enjoyed seeing them play out, but the predictability dulled their impact.
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