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If Chrono Trigger was the most exhilarating roller coaster at the SNES RPG theme park, then Sea of Stars feels like a bumpy (albeit gorgeous) car ride, with cardboard cutouts stand at each side of the road to remind you that this is indeed a throwback videogame. The facade breaks early on though, to remind you that it only has a paper-thin understanding of what made those classic RPGs so revered in the first place. Sea of Stars regrettably lacks depth within its story, writing, and gameplay and therefore feels wholly artificial in areas that aren’t its visuals or sound (a feeling accentuated by the meme-y dialogue that instantly dated the game and the pirate character who speaks in JRPG tropes). The lack of any real stuff to do within the towns (of which there are maybe 5 real towns) and a repetitive “go meet [guy] so you can get this [magic item]” style plot makes the world feel like simple a vehicle for the hilariously underbaked characters (with one notable exception) to go on a RPG quest until it’s jarringly anticlimactic ending.
On a positive note, the presentation of Sea of Stars is stellar. The different food items have detailed art in the cooking menu, the environments and world map are all gorgeous and the music is consistently pleasant. Each island has a different room for the overworld camping and the main menu screen changes depending on where you are in the game. There are some ingredients for a great videogame present in Sea of Stars but overtime the repetition began to take its toll on me. I’ve brought up an issue I had with the plot structure but the gameplay never evolves because the best strategy for every boss encounter stays the exact same. One of the 4th party member’s skills is to delay the turn order of a single enemy, which can be further delayed with one of the 5th party member’s combos and their ultimate (which makes other ultimates completely redundant as it deals roughly the same amount of damage while healing the entire party and delaying the turns of the entire enemy field by 3). You rarely have to switch this up and it is almost always the easiest and most rewarding way through enemy/boss encounters. Not to mention that these skills/combos are among the easiest to time, removing the “risk” factor of other middling skills while still being rewarded heavily. The enemy positions system from Chrono Trigger just doesn’t work with the timing mechanics from Super Mario RPG, either. There isn’t a sense of improving one’s usage of a skill over the course of the game like with the Super Jump from SMRPG, because the timing is dictated by how close/far you are from the enemy, so it’s easier to just do a regular attack sometimes or use one of the character’s other skills. The Devs lifts mechanics from other games (something I’m not against) but failed to understand how those same mechanics were so successful, further reinforcing how SoS just felt so shallow.
I really did want to like Sea of Stars. I love all of its influences and I even enjoyed The Messenger (the dev’s other game) but it just never reaches the highs I really think it could have, so it just feels mediocre. I hope these devs have another shot at an RPG at some point but I really REALLY hope that they push themselves just that bit further. The individual parts of the game could be so much better with a little development, but SoS is complacent with how underwhelming everything feels. Sea of Stars teeters on the edge of greatness, but just misses the mark in so many areas.
The atmosphere is oppressive, the demons are more hellish than ever and the shifting architecture creates dynamic labyrinths which strike the perfect balance between stress and excitement, but I feel as if we’ve taken a step back from Doom 2. Doom 64 is felt like a standard doom game, fun and all in short bursts, but I didn’t find it all that interesting.
Definitely a case of “it didn’t do it for me” rather than a genuinely mediocre videogame. The moody ambient soundtrack is definitely well made but that combined with the somewhat samey feeling levels it made the whole experience blend together. I don’t think I could pinpoint any distinct levels from 64 but I could definitely with doom 1 and 2. The Unmaker is a fine new weapon with a cool gimmick but idk I’ve just come to expect a bit more from doom. It just never really switches it up enough like 2 did, which would throw unique level after unique level at the player. I certainly didn’t leave doom 64 feeling unsatisfied, but I never left feeling all too fulfilled.
TL:DR, pretty decent, just not for me. Maybe I’ll like it more in the future.