Star Ocean: The Divine Force Review – A JRPG Out of This World (PC)

If you're a fan of JRPGs or the Star Ocean series in general, then stay tuned for this Star Ocean: The Divine Force review! The Divine Force beautifully encapsulates what makes the Star Ocean series so amazing and provides a magnificently nostalgic JRPG experience. This is one ethereal installment you won't want to miss!

Star Ocean: The Divine Force Review – A JRPG Out of This World (PC)

Well over six years after the release of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness comes the latest installment in the Star Ocean series: The Divine Force. As many Star Ocean fans are well aware of, Integrity and Faithlessness received a wide variety of mixed reviews due to a handful of issues that caused the game to ultimately underwhelm the majority. While Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness was by no means a bad game, the slightly lackluster experience of Fidel’s adventure left many fans craving something more. And, of course, Star Ocean: The Divine Force offers just that. The Divine Force beautifully expresses the ethereal experience that is a true Star Ocean game. Stick around for this in-depth Star Ocean: The Divine Force review and find out why every JRPG lover won’t want to skip out on this one!

Star Ocean: The Divine Force is a JRPG by entertainment company Square Enix. The Divine Force is available on PC, PS4/PS5, and Xbox One/Xbox Series.

This Star Ocean: The Divine Force review may contain spoilers.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force - Official Trailer | TGS 2022

Story – Intriguing and Magical

The Star Ocean series is known for its somewhat cliché yet very charming storytelling involving fantastical space travel, a quirky cast of characters, and the fate of entire worlds resting on the protagonist’s determined shoulders. It can be easy for JRPGs to fall victim to relying much too heavily on overused clichés and one-dimensional characters who tag along for seemingly no reason. However, that is not the case in terms of this review.

Star Ocean: The Divine Force blends well-known JRPG tropes with a unique cast of lovable characters who all have their own believable goals, struggles, and aspirations. The pacing feels great, the subplots are full of purpose, and the character development is truly satisfying. The storytelling in The Divine Force is ultimately intriguing, emotional, and magical!

Raymond, Laeticia, Albaird, and D.U.M.A.

Raymond, Laeticia, Albaird, and D.U.M.A.

Main Storyline

The story follows dual protagonists Raymond Lawrence and Laeticia Aucerius as they find themselves crossing paths and ultimately going on a grand adventure to save not only Laeticia’s world, but the entire universe. Similar to Star Ocean: Second Evolution, you can choose to either follow the story from Raymond or Laeticia’s perspective. Raymond’s perspective offers a deeper dive into the sci-fi and space travel aspects of the game, while Laeticia’s perspective focuses on the more fantastical elements of her planet. Regardless of who you choose however, a fantastic cast of characters will ultimately join together alongside you in an attempt to steer fate in the right direction and achieve similar goals.

The story Star Ocean: The Divine Force tells is simply wonderful! The pacing is satisfying and there are many plot twists along the way that constantly keep things interesting. Furthermore, depending on which protagonist you choose, there are many unique experiences and cutscenes tailored to each side that entirely justify multiple playthroughs. Even further, the characters available to join your party will also differ depending on who you play as and your choices will impact the outcome of their fate. Star Ocean: The Divine Force is a beautiful example of a JRPG tale done right!

Subplot and Private Actions

Similar to other Star Ocean games, there are many different subplots and optional private actions to indulge in. The subplots explored in this game never feel out of place and heavily contribute to the building of relationships between different characters. Likewise, private actions are optional, yet allow player to explore and get to know their favorite characters on a much deeper level. Private actions in The Divine Force consist of both serious matters and lighthearted banter between the protagonist you chose and other members of your party. This allows the role-playing aspects of this game to feel more genuine. Furthermore, the private actions differ depending on which protagonist you choose, adding to the list of reasons why players will benefit from playing the game through the eyes of both protagonists at least once!

A sweet private action between Laeticia and Albaird.

A sweet private action between Laeticia and Albaird.

Character Development and Dialogue

The effective use of subplot and private actions in this game also means amazing character development as a result. Every character in The Divine Force has their own unique background and aspirations that clearly evolve and impact their actions. Many characters in this game are multi-dimensional with clear strengths and weaknesses, which makes watching their development all the more satisfying. Additionally, the dialogue in The Divine Force is solid and witty, which adds many desirable layers of charm to the storytelling as a whole.

Gameplay – Absolutely Outstanding

If you think the story sounds promising, then get ready for the true highlight of The Divine Force: the gameplay! Star Ocean is a series that could easily fall short without solid gameplay elements, especially when it comes to something as prominent as combat. But have no fear, as The Divine Force excels and thrives through innovative, refreshing, and insanely fun game mechanics that solve nearly every gameplay issue past installments struggle with.

The combat and exploration in The Divine Force is the highlight of the entire game and genuinely cause it to stand out amongst the rest of the series. Furthermore, other various aspects of the gameplay– such as item creation and post game content– allow players to strengthen their party to their liking and test their skills against satisfyingly tough foes. Everything about the gameplay is purposeful and exciting!

Laeticia and D.U.M.A.

Laeticia and D.U.M.A.

Exploration

Exploration in The Divine Force is a breath of fresh air compared to not only the shortcomings of Integrity and Faithlessness, but even the most lovable Star Ocean installments. There are many beautiful places to explore in The Divine Force, all of which are full of secrets, ingredients, and treasures to obtain. Yes, this is true for many Star Ocean games. However, D.U.M.A. adds an exciting layer to exploration that flows extremely well! Instead of being bound to the ground during your travels, D.U.M.A allows you to take to the skies and explore mountains, rooftops, and other tall structures with ease. This gameplay aspect adds some much needed height to exploration and breaks many obvious limitations found in previous Star Ocean games. Exploration remains fun, dynamic, and interesting throughout the entire game!

Combat

Similar to the exploration aspects of the gameplay, D.U.M.A. adds many exciting features to combat in The Divine Force. For starters, D.U.M.A. allows the possibility of aerial combat and provides you with a handful of buffs/bonus attributes depending on how you utilize it. Furthermore, D.U.M.A. can aid in performing vanguard attacks (VA). This reintroduces the beloved ability to perform blindsides, which are used to catch enemies off guard and deal bonus damage in the process.

Even further, the combat in this installment offers many changes and upgrades for the better! Blackberries have been done away with, meaning that party members no longer possess MP. Instead, players are given an AP gauge that determines how many attacks you can perform in succession. The length of the AP gauge fluctuates depending on your combat performance. This directly relates to chain combos, which have been altered to prevent you from abusing singular repetitive abilities in combat similar to previous installments. Instead, building a successful chain combo means utilizing a wide variety of abilities to craft unique attack combos. You are also introduced to vatting, powerful attacks that can be used when the corresponding bar is at a full charge– which definitely adds to the fun!

All of this makes for unique combat experiences that are extremely fun, fluid, and exhilarating. The Divine Force easily possesses the absolute best combat system of the entire Star Ocean series!

Elena being amazing in combat.

Elena being amazing in combat.

Item Creation, Skill Trees, and Menus

Item creation in Star Ocean: The Divine Force is simple, yet achieves its purpose effectively with ease. Like other previous Star Ocean installments, you meet yet another amazing variation of Welch Vineyard and go on an item creation journey with her overtime through a whacky subplot. Item creation in some Star Ocean games can sometimes feel a bit out of the way– some more than others. In The Divine Force, however, you are free to create and craft anytime at your leisure through your menus. There are many useful and highly necessary items to obtain through item creation. Furthermore, the trial and error of the system makes your efforts ultimately very rewarding.

Similar to item creation, character skill trees are both easy to access and crucial to your adventure’s success. While you are still able to upgrade abilities and talents at your discretion, you are also able to choose which stats to strengthen and which abilities to obtain as you level up. This gives the player much more freedom to build their characters however they see fit.

There are also many other vital gameplay elements that you can use from your menus, as well. This includes a D.U.M.A. tab in which you upgrade the skills and abilities you want D.U.M.A. to utilize, as well as a place to forge chain combos, keep up with story arcs, save your game at any given point, etc. You can even fast travel to any location you desire at almost any given point quite early on in the game. All of these gameplay aspects work very well together and ultimately grant you a hefty amount of freedom as you gain experience and grow stronger!

Malkya and Midas.

Malkya and Midas.

Es’owa

Es’owa is a tabletop mini game that you can play throughout your journey in The Divine Force. As you explore the world and challenge the townspeople to Es’owa you’ll find yourself collecting a hefty amount of playing pieces– or pawns– as time goes on. There is a certain amount of strategy you need to win games of Es’owa, making it a fun little game to play when you need a break from combat or exploration. What really makes Es’owa so neat, though, is the fact that the majority of the pawns you collect are different characters from previous Star Ocean games. This mini game is a very sweet and nostalgic addition to The Divine Force.

Post Game

Similar to previous Star Ocean installments, there is a lot of exhilarating post game content to experience once the main story is over! There are multiple post game dungeons to grind through and overcome, which also includes some familiar divine post game bosses. For those JRPG lovers and Star Ocean fans who simply cannot get enough of such an amazing battle system, the post game content in The Divine Force is magnificent and highly rewarding! The post game content is the brilliant cherry on top of an already amazing game. Afterall: what’s a Star Ocean experience without some post game mayhem?

Albaird focused in combat.

Albaird focused in combat.

Graphics and Sound – Colorful and Charming

Visual and audio design are just as important to the overall composition of a video game as the story or the gameplay. The Star Ocean series in general has a very stylistic way of merging fantasy and sci-fi together, making the world feel believable and charming. Star Ocean: The Divine Force is no different, as it offers a magical arrangement of sound and graphics that help give players the fantastical experience they deserve.

The soundtrack in The Divine Force is absolutely beautiful. To compliment this, the game is also full of many gorgeous characters and environments that ultimately provide players with a colorful and thrilling world to explore. There are a few noticeable imperfections in this category, however the game ultimately possesses strong overall visuals and sounds that are truly amazing.

Music, Sound Effects, and Voice Acting

When it comes to the audio department, The Divine Force offers a beautiful arrangement of music that never fails to set the mood. The tracks are diverse, powerful, charming, and truly add to an immersive experience. Likewise, the sound effects are nostalgic and the voice acting is both wonderful and believable across the board. Max Mittelman (Albaird), Melissa Fahn (Welch), and Mark Whitten (Raymond) are just a handful of great voice actors who offer lovely performances in The Divine Force. Simply put: the entire soundtrack in this game is fantastic!

Taking in the scenery.

Taking in the scenery.

Character Design and Environmental Composition

The character designs in The Divine Force are– for the most part– absolutely amazing. While Raymond’s design isn’t exactly the most memorable of the bunch, there are many beautifully crafted characters that visually synchronize with their colorful personalities and look simply wonderful in game. This includes even the non-playable characters, many of which were clearly shown just as much love as the playable cast. Facial expressions and body language can feel a tad bit stiff at times, similar to previous Star Ocean games, however it isn’t something that takes away from the overall charm of the game.

The arrangement of vast and unique environments in Star Ocean: The Divine Force make up for what Integrity and Faithlessness ultimately lacked. There is enough variety between all of the different towns, dungeons, and other areas that truly make exploration fun and interesting. Furthermore, many of the towns and cities are not only beautiful, but lively as well. Many of the environments truly feel lived in between all of the smaller details and present NPCs grounded in daily activities. The only downfall here is that there are a select few areas in which tight corridors are a bit too narrow and abundant for combat to flow smoothly. Other than this, the character design and environmental composition is lovely!

A Sidenote Regarding Menu Text

The Divine Force truly is beautiful both visually and in terms of sound. There really isn’t much to complain about. However, there is an obvious issue with small font sizes on various menu interfaces in the game that make reading and comprehending certain things difficult for some. This is a shame considering how convenient and useful these menus are otherwise. Such a great experience should be equally accessible for everyone. Therefore, a simple patch in which players at the very least have the option to increase the font size in their menus is very much needed.

Raymond and Laeticia.

Raymond and Laeticia.

Overall Visual and Audio Quality

Before we make our way to the conclusion of this Star Ocean: The Divine Force review– again, The Divine Force is nothing less than a beautiful game. The characters look great, the environments are vivid and rich, the soundtrack is breathtaking, and there are loads of amazing details that are very pleasing to the eye! There is clearly a lot of visual inspiration taken from classic JRPGs that ultimately coats this installment in old-school nostalgia. However, there is also plenty of “newness” visually that makes The Divine Force feel fresh and exciting.

To top it all off, the graphics in general are smooth and eye-catching, allowing players to enjoy a well-rendered universe filled with magic, space travel, and all things fantastical. Yes, there are a few imperfections when it comes to somewhat stiff character animations, the utilization of space, and small text. Despite these minor flaws, The Divine Force does a great job in terms of designing a magical universe for JRPG fans and Star Ocean lovers alike!

Star Ocean: The Divine Force was reviewed on PC via Steam.

Summary
Star Ocean: The Divine Force is the breath of fresh air Star Ocean fans have been waiting for. The storytelling is satisfying and fun, the gameplay is innovative and exciting, and the visuals are colorful and fantastical! Even further, The Divine Force offers a beautiful soundtrack and a handful of challenging battles that ultimately provide a very rewarding experience! Although there are some imperfections, The Divine Force is a magnificent installment in the Star Ocean series!
Good
  • Intriguing and satisfying storytelling that truly pays off
  • Lovable characters
  • Extremely fun and innovative gameplay
  • A colorful world that makes exploration exciting
  • A beautiful soundtrack and great voice acting
Bad
  • Certain dungeons/areas are too narrow for seamless combat/exploration
  • A quality of life issue regarding small menu text
9
Amazing

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