So, juggling a playthough of Final Fantasy II (Japanese FF2, ya know… the bad one) on the PSP, Persona 4 Golden on my Vita, and grinding until I can’t feel anymore in Bravely Default on my 3DS, I decided to play and finish a game I was looking forward to for the better part of 2016: Star Ocean Integrity And Faithlessness, or as I’ll call it, Star Ocean 5. Star Ocean 5 is special to me, as it is the first of the Star Ocean games I have played and beat, and while my hype for Final Fantasy XV was there, the runner up of that hype went to Star Ocean 5. Why? Well, many people (mostly on YouTube) have expressed their love of the Star Ocean franchise, mostly Second Story (Star Ocean 2… obviously) and ‘Till The End Of Time (Star Ocean 3). After my initial distaste of Star Ocean The Last Hope (Star Ocean 4), I became weary of Star Ocean 5, especially after reviews came out slamming the game, therefore my hope died out on it being a good game. Alas, I have played and beaten it. What do I think now? Well..
Let’s start off with the story. You play as a dude named Fidel Camuze, who… screw it. I honestly don’t remember anything about the story. You’re a dude who picks up other eccentrically dressed and varied characters as you spend most of your time quelling enemy attacks on towns and getting mowed down by random fights, because you didn’t spend the last hour grinding. I’m not saying that the story is bad, but incredibly forgettable, meaning that I completely forgot the setup. Okay, you are a dude named Fidel, with a friend who doesn’t want to be just friends but she has to fit into a cliche of being the girl drooling over the main bland, Miki. Admittedly, I like the cast in this game way more than the cast that I got introduced to in the first 2 hours of Star Ocean 4, who were all insufferable in their own ways. I just find that the cliche of the boy who is attracted to the girl class president who is amazing in every way, shape, and form is reversed, which makes it more Western in that sort of stereotype, which… meh. I can role with it because I actually like Fidel and Miki, despite the fact that I never got romantic vibes from them, so it almost seemed like they were brother and sister, but in the end (SPOILERS), Miki drops the subtle-not-so-subtle hit to Fidel that she wants to be his wife. Again… meh. Anyway, you also come across Victor Oakville (a soldier who you could replace with a stuffed bear with long hair a sword and nothing would change), Fiore Brunelli (the fan service character, who strangely has a lot more to do with the plot than the other characters, which makes me think, why isn’t she the protagonist?), Relia (a young girl that spends her time being 12 years old and a plot device), and Emmerson and Anne (Captain and crew mate of the Charles D. Goale, part of the Federation, and what they lack of in last names, they make up for by being the only thing that can make the plot move forward). The main problem is that your character, and most of the characters minus Emmerson, Anne and Relia, are citizens of an underdeveloped planet, meaning all the fun of a game that is essentially Japanese Star Trek, gets tossed into the decompression chamber and ejected into space to die in a way that I don’t want to ponder upon for too long. As the story progressed, we learn that our planet sucks, that a dude named General Alma watched Film Theory’s video on how Star Trek’s Federation stood for Fascism, connected the dots that he was in Japanese Star Trek and then went ham, capturing Relia’s sister Feria (because OF COURSE HER NAME IS FERIA). You kill him, everyone lives out their dreams, which sets up a story I would have rather played through than the one I actually played through. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are scenes that are pretty good, such as Fidel’s dad dying and their estranged relationship with each other, as well as the ending being a lot better than how i thought it was going to be, but the story was aggressively okay. My main problem is that you can move your character and the camera in 90% of the cutscenes, which made me not even pay attention to what was going on, because what was going on was already boring and pointless enough, so that when the camera doesn’t change to make the scenes more interesting, I lose interest really quickly.
This is an action RPG, where you can control allies individually and use their special abilities. You’re placed in an invisible-walled arena, where you must fatally remove the enemies from your safe space. X and O are your attack buttons, Square is block, Triangle brings up your menu, R1+X is your limit break… kinda. You can set roles, which give you various buffs to aid your characters in certain stats. They are like the “Titles” from the Tales series, except you can equip 4 to each character, and they are much more important if you want to beat the game properly. You can also learn new abilities by finding them, acknowledging that you indeed have them in your inventory and then assigning that command to one of 4 places: X and O in short range, or X and O in long range. The battle system is okay, being decent enough to get you from point A to B and have some fun, but not enough to be something to look forward to, especially when you start grinding, because trust me, you’re going to need to grind. It’s a JRPG, so duh there will be grinding, but I don’t like spending hours grinding in action RPGs for some reason. Turn-based is optimal for grinding, but action-RPGs are more active and fast paced, so grinding feels wrong, in my opinion. Regardless, the overall battle system is okay.
The aesthetic is very hit and miss. The art style is something I really love and I think that, for a game that has an anime aesthetic, it has a fantastic level of polish. There are hiccups with the frame rate, models clipping through the ground (meaning no animation or position change of feet being on an incline/ decline), and facial animations being very poor, but I think that the style is great. For the most part, it’s nice and artsy, but then there’s Fiore, who’s checkered outfit didn’t match her personality of an intelligent symbologist. Then again, if they are going to have a fan service character, she might as well be the black mage who also is a key member of the plot (again, why isn’t she the protagonist? Eh… whatever). The art of Star Ocean 5 is really nice, but I feel that the overall aesthetic turns out to be only okay. This goes for the soundtrack as well, unfortunately. While there were cool songs in the game, I couldn’t remember any of them for the life of me, which is a shame, because video game OSTs are my favorite things. It’s composed by Motoi Sakuraba… wait… the guy who did the Tales series and Dark Souls?!?! I mean… he did do a lot of games in 2015-2016, so maybe this wasn’t really his best foot that he put forward, which I wouldn’t blame him. The soundtrack is rather forgettable, which I say very disappointingly, because I really wanted to like it. The voice acting is pretty good, although it does get way too cheesy for it’s own good later down the line, but anything is better than Star Ocean 4 (YES I’M STILL BITTER).
Overall, I feel that Star Ocean 5 is just aggravatingly and aggressively… okay. It’s a fun 23 hours with moments that will make you wonder why you started playing the game in the first place. In the end, after seeing the ending, I actually am glad that I decided to take the time to look at this game, even though I understand and agree with the critics on this one, for the most part. I think it’s enjoyable, but as someone who loves a good OST, story and art style, this game unfortunately let me down. I really hate saying that, but the amount of times I just wanted to play Kingdom Hearts instead or start a New Game+ file in Persona 5 ruined my overall enjoyment of this game. I just hope that we can get another entry, because while this is a better place than where Star Ocean 4 left off on, this series still has great potential that can still be tapped into. Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness is just okay.