I recently finished Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness (Star Ocean V), and thought I’d share my thoughts.
I have all the Star Ocean games except a Japan-only Gameboy Colour game, but V is the first one I’ve managed to finish.
First of all, this is a VERY short game by RPG standards. Now ‘short RPG’ would normally be maybe 25 hours, but I was comfortably able to finish this in around 18 hours. This may sound terrible, but I found that unlike many RPGs which claim to be 40-50 hours or more but involve hours and hours of grinding, levelling up in Star Ocean V was reasonably easy and quick – it seemed like characters would alternate levelling up every 3-4 battles until right near the end of the game. Many other RPGs require excessive amounts of grinding that seem to be just ‘padding’ to artificially lengthen a game, and grinding in some RPGs is neither quick nor easy. This quick levelling up is something I would like to see in other RPGs in some form as well – a 50 hour RPG with 20 hours of grinding to complete the main story, where gaining a single level can take half an hour or more (45mins+ per level near the end of Xenoblade Chronicles. Ouch!) is outdated game design and RPG developers should be looking to either reduce the amount of grinding, or streamline the grinding in some way (e.g gaining EXP when magic/skills/etc are used in battle), or failing those, aim for level progression systems closer to some Western RPGs. The battle system was quite impressive as well – 7 characters can participate in battle simultaneously, and battles were the right level of difficulty.
Those are major pluses with this game, however, I should address some of the game’s shortcomings. The approach to the cutscenes seemed uninspired and made the game less enjoyable. In Star Ocean V, cutscenes were made interactive. However, during a cutscene, a red barrier would appear that you were unable to walk past, and it was strange being able to walk in circles around characters while they were talking without them reacting in any way, and greatly lessened the impact of the cutscenes. Also, there was no scene skipping for cutscenes at all – in an RPG released in 2016. At least once or twice I ran into a situation where I got a Game Over because of a mistake I made, and had to sit through about 20 minutes of unskippable cutscenes to keep back to that spot.
Now we come to the story. As this was a very short game, the plot was relatively simplistic, and not particularly original by RPG standards. The story had its moments, but it wasn’t fleshed out enough or original enough to allow this RPG to be what it could have been.
Star Ocean V has a Metacritic score of 60, but I would give it 71/100 or 7.1/10 since I am a longtime fan of RPGs in general. Not having been a Star Ocean fan (or having finished any other SO games), I wasn’t disappointed by this game. I was much more disappointed with Final Fantasy XIII – a game that didn’t live up to the Final Fantasy name and should have been branded as a spin-off game rather than a numbered Final Fantasy, so I’d probably be tempted to give Final Fantasy XIII a 60 score. There were some things about FF13 I liked (The Paradigm Roles, the Crystarium, some of the characters, Barthandelus, Orphan), but I loathed almost everything else about FF13. Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness on the other hand, I had no particular expectations for and was not particularly disappointed, but this game did feel rushed.
Final Score: 71/100 or 7.1/10