I’d never really played a Star Ocean game before. I watched some of Star Ocean: The Last Hope and did a bit of grinding in said game, but before this one I hadn’t really committed to a full playthrough before. After this…I don’t really want to. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the game terrible, but it was an exercise in patience to get through it.
As always with this type of article, spoilers ahead.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness follows the story of Fidel Camuze, who I keep mentally replacing with Jace Beleren from Magic the Gathering. I think it’s the coat. In a nutshell, the game starts with you defending your hometown from bandits. You then head to the capitol to request reinforcements, get told no and head home. On their way back, Fidel and his stereotypical brother(figure) complex ridden companion Miki witness the crash of a cloaked spacecraft and find a little girl stumbling out of the wreckage and exhibiting strange powers. They bring her back to their village only to find out that the capitol actually did decide to send some help and the group heads back out to clear out the bandits that have been plaguing them. They then head back to the capitol to find out more about the little girl. I feel like I’m reading off a list of bullets rather than describing the story here, but that’s kind of how it feels. The game cleaves rigidly to a theme of “Go to point b, then come back to a. Then go back to point b, then go to point c, then come back to point a.” You will be doing a LOT of walking in this game, and most of it in places you’ve been two or three times already. The story points between are also painfully short, usually only a few lines of dialogue before being shooed along to the next destination, since virtually every goal you get assigned seems to end in failure.
I’m being a bit harsh, and will continue to do so, but a more accurate synopsis is in order. Fidel’s world is basically caught between two major powers that exist in other parts of space, the Federation and their rival known as Kronos. Kronos is using Fidel’s planet as a staging ground for experiments to give them an edge in their war with the Federation and many of those efforts resulted in the little girl he finds early in the game named Relia. The game is basically one long mission to a.) find out more about Relia and b.) keep her safe from the people who are trying to use her. Like I said, the group fails spectacularly at this multiple times. You’ll finish a mission to save her, have Relia back for the span of a fight or two and then she gets captured again.
The actual gameplay isn’t that bad, combat is very similar to a Tales game with the interesting feature of controlling your entire party instead of a select four with the ability to switch people in and out. All seven members of your party (on the few occasions you have all of them) will be present and active in battle at the same time, which gives you a much broader range of abilities and skills, and a headache trying to coordinate them all. Unlike Tales you can’t set everyone’s combat AI up to suit your style aside from assigning them roles, so you’re stuck switching back and forth like a mad-person trying to get your healer to not stand in front of the boss while she channels. Or run the entire party away from the massive AOE attack the boss is preparing while they actively run back to their deaths.
Shown here: Fire. And everyone standing in it.
I don’t have much good to say this time around, which makes me sad. The story felt weak and repetitive. The characters were shallow and poorly fleshed out, or way too emotional given how lacking the build up was. Interaction between them was done in excruciatingly brief exchanges that mandated a lot of leaving and re-entering towns to keep triggering them. In some cases this only scored a single line of random dialogue that gave no insight into anything. The characters would randomly start talking to each other out in the field which is fine, but it somehow always happens as you’re crossing the border into a town, which kills the exchange. And from what I was able to gather, most Star Ocean games involve a lot more…space…then this one. The game takes place on a single world, or inside of space ships. There are multiple cases where you’re actually in star ship battles and instead of showing you the action, you just listen to Emmerson dictate orders and watch blips float towards each other on a screen. F****** riveting action right there.
Pictured: Not a battle. Couldn’t even find a picture of one.
Maybe I’m being too harsh, but at least for me this isn’t a game I enjoyed. It was repetitive, shallow, and completely failed to pull me in. Definitely not a title I can recommend. What do you think? Did you actually enjoy Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness? Or do you think they slipped up here? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, happy gaming!