It’s no lie that I’m a faithful fan of Square Enix titles, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts being my favourites, but I’ve only dabbled in a couple of their Star Ocean games. What I’ve played, however, I’ve loved and so I knew I just had to play their latest offering – Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness. With a rather strong legacy to follow through, how does their latest entry stack up?
My time with Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness has so far been a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s not a bad game by any means but lacks the same level of quality that other games in the series have, especially in the story department. The story from previous titles always seemed to have a lot more substance and left a lasting impression. However, Integrity and Faithlessness appears to have reduced any semblance of plot down to a series of common RPG tropes that leaves you very much up to your own devices during the early game.
There is a distinct lack of cutscenes within the game which wouldn’t be a problem if the alternative was done right. Instead of cutscenes, we have dialogue scenes that give the illusion of free movement within the scene. However, you’re restricted within a red circle and the scenes themselves can leave you confused over who’s actually talking. Subtitles don’t help much as they give no indications as to who’s speaking either. It’s an interesting idea but one that has been poorly executed. It’s also not helped by the fact that the majority of the characters are pretty bland. This also affects the enjoyability of the ‘Private Actions’ that make a return, which develop relationships between characters and can affect the multiple endings the game has.
To be fair to the game, you do get control of our main character, Fidel Camuze, almost instantly, but then begins a bombardment of text-based tutorial screens which I found really hard to read. I don’t know whether it was the size, font or colour used, maybe all of the above, but I ended up just clicking through without reading in most cases. Once you’re free to explore you’ll be treated with a fairly large open world complete with roaming enemies – definitely something I like to see in my RPGs. With a lack of early game plot, you’ll be making long journeys from town to town and back again.
The battle system, while not full of depth, is fun and enjoyable. There is an element of button-bashing, it has to be said but its offset well with a counter move system that affects the battle meter to the side. An attack can be made by pushing X for a weak attack and O for a strong attack. Holding down these buttons will allow you to use skills; these can be set via the main menu. During battle, you’re able to switch characters which gives you a much bigger scope on strategy during boss battles. What the other members of your party do during battle is determined by the roles you have set for that character. Some, for example, excel in magic so equipping them with roles that can boost it will give you an advantage in battle.
Countering moves successfully during battle will improve your bonuses come the end of battle. The battle meter to the left of the screen shows the bonuses you have amassed during a battle but be aware that these can also be lost if enemies manage to get the upper hand. The battle meter can also be used to perform ‘Rush’ attacks which are very powerful attacks, useful during tough battles, but consume your bonuses so use them only when necessary.
Visually, I have to say the game scores pretty high, the character designs are really good and the open landscapes, town and cities are of very high quality. Action during battle is pretty smooth making for some very satisfying battles. I had issues with the camera, not the controls per se, but how the camera acts automatically. While traversing the wilderness, the camera likes to jump up and down as though you were off-roading and it can get quite nauseating. In terms of the audio though, the English dub cast sounds a little same-y and with the problems, during dialogue scenes, it makes the Japanese option equally as hard to follow.
Integrity and Faithlessness is a little less than stellar it has to be said, it’s possible that my expectations going in were a little too high maybe. It’s definitely not a bad game, though I feel a large portion of this review was negative, but just not as good as I had hoped. The game does feature some gorgeous visuals, a vast open-world to explore and a really fun battle system. Did the bare-bones plot affect my enjoyment, yes somewhat, but it’s still a fun and enjoyable game and I’m sure Star Ocean fans will enjoy it.