Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, the newest and 5th Star Ocean game to the franchise, released almost 7 years after the 4th in the series. Exchanging Laser sword for steel, SO5 is set on the world of Faykreed 4, swapping the point of view from the normally sci-fi style to an undeveloped planet. After what fans believe to be the lowest point with The Last Hope, SO5 aims to bring back Star Ocean into the limelight of the RPG Titans.
You “control” the human Fidel Camuze, a swordsman training facility owner in a small village, who is quickly thrown into the spotlight after news of invading bandits appear. Together with his childhood friend Miki, he heads out to combat this force, finding them to have overwhelming numbers, making him travel to the nearby capital to ask for aid. However it isn’t that simple as he needs to help people along the way, make friends and generally survive the harsh environment.
From this beginning portion you are given a good view of the overarching story, with a little girl crash landing in her ship to the political struggle of the 2 nations. The game quickly hits its Sci-fi roots after the crash landing, with guns being introduced, teleporters, spaceships and more. From defending a small village form bandits you will be thrust into war, both on land and in space.
The main story will last you around 20 hours in your first playthrough, I racked up 27 hours with around 86% of all side quests complete. Sadly there isn’t much of a New Game+, merely allowing you to continue playing after the ending. You are free to pick up and complete the side quests to 100%, gain all combat and resources skills, items, side bosses and more to get all achievements in the game, as nothing is miss-able beside monster codex entries.
SO5 continues the same format as previous games, entering combat is from the main field with a seamless transition. Moving around with the left Thumbstick, X for weak attacks, Circle for strong attacks, Square for guarding and sidesteps and camera controls with the right Thumbstick. Field movement is pretty much the same, with X being used to talk and interact with the world.
A change on the limit/rush system is in the way that it is gained as well as the benefits it gives the party. You can increase the blue gauge with strong attacks, increasing Fol (money) drops from enemies, weak attacks or the red gauge that increases EXP gain and green gauge through dodging attacks which increases skill points. You will find yourself either grinding for EXP or SP, and the gauge itself kind forces you down one attack strategy, dumbing down combat quite a bit at points. The reserve rush can them be unleashed by holding Right Trigger 2 and X, allowing the selected character to use their specific attack or heal. These are mostly for singular targets like bosses, but some contain area effects.
Gaining exp increases your level, increasing stats and hp, whereas SP is used to level up skills like mining or alchemy, levelling up Roles and skills or to unlock them. With so many uses for SP you will find that to be the limiting factor over Fol. However you can level up roles and abilities with use, except the gathering ones.
Quests are quite abundant, with over 100 to complete, unlocking as you complete others or progress into the story itself. You will be tasked with gathering materials, defeating side bosses or delivering items to the board itself. Most are straightforward, telling you where to go, but there are some individual quests where you need to put some thought into it. These quests give EXP, SP and Fol along with items to learn new skills, increase current ones and to hand in for other quests.
Specialities have been increased in this releases and are not tied to specific characters, from mining ore, fishing and harvesting for food to item creation like alchemy or blacksmithing. There are plenty of nodes around the world to collect resources from for these skills and will be one of the main ways to access the crafting items. It is a nice side thing to get lost in, trying to complete all of your codexes will definitely take tens of hours.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
I normally don’t write about games in accordance with their previous releases, especially with games like Star Ocean or Final Fantasy, when their previous instalments aren’t always directly connected to one another. However, the style in which SO5 is made is a far cry from the previous games, with many players having only played 3 or 4. SO5 is on an under-developed planet, with little to no Sci-Fi in it. Star Ocean is normally referred to as an Anime Star Trek, but they have taken away that appeal. You won’t see new planets or even leave Faykreed 4 all that often, mostly using spaceships for Lore or fast travel. SO5 feels more like a return to the series to try and bring in fans before they put more resources into an adventure between planets, set in the Star Ocean itself.
Music is on form in this release, with medieval fantasy tunes for the planet’s surface, ambient noises for travelling cities and quiet tunes to follow your exploration. Action packed tracks for battles and music full of energy for hard battles is heard throughout. The scene change from planet to ship is amazing in the soundtrack as well, bringing back sounds similar to the previous games, sparking all the nostalgia feels.
Star Ocean 5 didn’t reach the heights I know it could get to, going for a safe approach with sticking to a singular planet. It would have been so much better if more planets were introduced, or giving us our own ship to travel the stars like previous games. SO1 had 2 planets, SO2 had 3 planets, SO3 had 4 planets, SO4 had 6 planets, as well as with the others they visited along the way. The progression of adventure and scope of the game “world” was ever increasing in the series, SO5 feels like a step back, or 5 steps.
Overall Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness gets a 9/10, the game in its own rights is great. There are no bugs that I experienced, level and difficulty progression was smooth and the story was rather well written, if a bit cliché at points. Voice acting has improved in this releases, with a few horrible ones thrown in for good measure, the little girl Relia had the worst voice direction ever. The game has some dull points here and there, with the added grinding for quests or levels. It is the perfect length at 20 hours, not feeling drawn out at all. Sadly it isn’t a good representation of what Star Ocean is meant to be, but on its own merits it does so much correct. If you’re looking for a solid JRPG that can hold your attention then this is for you, but it might not be for hard-core fans of the series.