Feycreed is a planet where only magic and swords exist in the universe of Star Ocean 5. Lestia is under attack by their neighbouring country who has somehow gained new unknown powers. While helping with one of the battles, they rescue a little girl Lillia from a crashed spaceship. They decide to help find out where her home is and become part of a galactic space conflict.
Plot itself isn't very exciting and is a very predictable JRPG "you're not alone" one but, watching the characters fight for the sake of little Lillia made for some pretty moving scenarios.
You can assign party roles to each member which also determines how each of your characters fight such as an attack boosting role means they will freely run to attack the enemy. It doesn't work that great - most of the time you just have to switch over to them such as to the healer to kite enemies about. It's especially frustrating when you're involved in an escort quest.
Would have been good if they added some more refined of AI control like focus on healing, attack a certain enemy or stay away etc. Most of the time they're just standing around and mages have full unused MP bars unless you take over and spam spells.
On the party development side, things are little more interesting because there's so many skills to unlock. There's so many you can be spoiled as to what to spend your skill points on. Unfortunately, there isn't a skill tree so you're pretty much left to guess what unlocks the next more powerful skill unless you're using a guide.
At first sight when you get to start roaming around, it looks like an open world with the size of the maps but, most of the time you can see all the exits are barred off until much later into the game.
Quest tracking is poor. Main quests use a star to point you in the right direction but for side quests, you'll have to keep track of everything for yourself such as the number of kills, drop items collected. Come on, games are supposed to be fun, not chores. Lots of games give you automated tracking these days and alert you when you just completed an objective.
What makes it worse is that you're stuck with the same skills if you don't do enough quests because a lot of the skills come in the form of books that only the quests offer.
On the other hand, the banter and optional "private events" are fun to listen to. It's quite similar to the Tales of games where suddenly the characters just chat away but here, you can raise the friendship between the protagonist Fidele and the others. Kind of like the Persona games which leads to a different ending but there's no gauge to tell how well you're doing, just from what's happening in the events.
Character models, environments, textures and props look pretty good on the PS4 for the most part apart from the lighting. Lighting feels off because it looks as if they just decided to make everything shiny and water just looks... horrible. Looks like a sea of mud most of the time. Space and your common medieval look pretty much generic, not much creativity in world design here.
Would also have been nice if the character graphics changed depending on the gear they're wearing. Nothing more satisfying than seeing that shiny rare sword on your character than just an icon in your invent.
In the end Star Ocean 5 was quite nice to look at on the PS4 if you don't mind looking at generic sci-fi and medieval environments. Battle system wasn't so great but the fights were challenging enough so that you had to employ tactics to win so, that itself was something I enjoyed. There is a lot of room for improvement though and it's quite odd that Tri-Ace hasn't learned about good user experience from their past game development experience.
- Fairly smooth battle system.
- Graphics are good for the most part.
- Bosses actually need some tactics.
- Large amount of skills to mix and match.
- Optional challenging dungeons to fight through.
- Fun banter.
- No quest tracking.
- No cut-scene skipping.
- No skill tree.
- AI controls could be better.
- No visual changes when gear is updated.