Sea of Stars review – a throwback RPG laced with modern magic and care

Sea of Stars: A Modern Throwback RPG with Well-Considered Inspirations

Sea of Stars is a game that embraces the nostalgia of SNES RPGs while adding its own unique twists. It pays homage to classic 16-bit visuals and catchy chiptune music, but it also brings something fresh and exciting to the table. As a player, I found myself transported back to my childhood days, reminiscing about the joy of playing retro games on an old CRT screen or hiding under the covers with my trusty DS. Sea of Stars captures that magic and delivers a captivating experience.

A Well-Read Love Letter to Classic RPGs

Sea of Stars draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, not just the obvious Chrono Trigger. It takes these inspirations, mixes them together, and creates a cocktail that is both smart and charming. What sets this game apart is its ability to strike a perfect balance between old and new. It never feels derivative or like a mere imitation of past titles. Instead, it stands confidently on its own, offering a unique experience with a blend of familiar and innovative elements.

The Journey of Zale and Valere

The game’s story follows two warriors, Zale and Valere, who are fated to fight against ancient beasts. As with many RPGs, Sea of Stars explores themes of lost innocence and personal growth. The beginning of the game is light-hearted and fun, with battles against cave critters and skeletons. However, as the story progresses, the stakes become higher and the tone shifts. While the game handles these dramatic turns well, I did find myself craving more emotional depth from the main characters.

Fighting and Exploring in Sea of Stars

In Sea of Stars, combat is reminiscent of Chrono Trigger. Battles take place in the same locations you explore, and positioning plays a crucial role. Some skills can manipulate enemy placement, making certain attacks more effective. The game also incorporates timed button presses, similar to the Mario RPGs, allowing players to block or deal extra damage. Additionally, spells can be deflected endlessly for a powerful boost. The combat system strikes a good balance between complexity and accessibility, offering strategic depth without overwhelming the player.

Sea of Stars also excels in its world exploration. The game presents a beautifully crafted world that feels like a dream SNES game come to life. There’s a variety of stunning locations to discover, from underwater villages to majestic dragons. Traversal mechanics, inspired by Illusion of Gaia, add an extra layer of excitement. Players can climb ledges, jump from roofs, and swim from the very beginning of the game. These movement options not only make exploration more engaging but also provide new opportunities for treasure hunting and discovery.

A Captivating Turn-Based Battle System

The turn-based battles in Sea of Stars are engaging and dynamic. The game keeps players on their toes with a constant ticking countdown, requiring quick decision-making. Timed button presses add an interactive element to combat, and party combo moves reminiscent of Chrono Trigger further enhance strategic options. Developer Sabotage Studio has truly crafted a turn-based battle system that stands out from the rest, keeping players fully invested and immersed in the action.

A Few Missed Opportunities

Although Sea of Stars excels in many aspects, it does have some shortcomings. The game’s character development feels a bit lacking, with the protagonists rarely delving into their emotions or discussing world events. This lack of depth can make it difficult to fully connect with the party members. Additionally, the game struggles to deliver dramatic and emotional moments effectively.

Despite these minor flaws, Sea of Stars is a delightful RPG that captures the essence of classic SNES games while adding its own modern sensibilities. It’s a love letter to the past that stands confidently in the present. If you’re a fan of retro RPGs or simply appreciate a well-crafted gaming experience, Sea of Stars is definitely worth checking out.