Sat. Feb 4th, 2023
Star Ocean 5: An impenetrable RPG chasing mainstream success

For outsiders, the Star ocean series can be impenetrable, even downright unfavorable. Without digging into optional content, Star ocean can easily take 100 hours to complete, while the many cutscenes – sometimes as long as 10 hours in a single game – are as confusing as they are long. Fans love it. But for Shuichi Kobayashi, producer of the forthcoming Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (simply known as star ocean 5), wildly sprawling stories and content for content’s sake just won’t cut it anymore.

star ocean 5 is on a different path, one where even RPG newcomers can give it a try – and Kobayashi, visiting London on his first trip outside his native Japan, knows just how to make it happen.

“The audience for games these days is a lot of people who don’t have that much time to commit to a single game,” explains Kobayashi, “and they are put off by a game that asks them to bet 100 hours to get to the to come to the end and see everything, that’s why we deliberately made the pace a lot faster than Star ocean seen in the past and that may make the game seem shorter, but maybe that’s not what some core fans wanted.”

That’s what I was told star ocean 5 can be completed in about 30 hours, increasing to 50 with the included side missions. This is a bold move for a series that has outperformed most RPGs over the last 20 years in building an audience around a consistent game design, one of real-time combat (there’s no turn-based silliness here), kawaii characters, and bizarre cutscenes. The characters remain, but everything else has changed. Perhaps that’s why, despite some glowing comments surrounding it Star Ocean 5’s images, Japanese critics have not been kind.

“From the core Star ocean fans who have been following the series for some time, opinions are divided star ocean 5. We’ve had some really good and some really bad reactions,” says Kobayashi when I ask him how the game, which was released in Japan at the end of March, has been received. long-term fans might have expected was a very long game that will take you many, many hours to get through. What we did do this time is change the focus a bit.”

“We really wanted to bring in new players for the good of the franchise’s future.”

Despite the changes, star ocean 5 is still full of the series’ signature melodrama.

On July 1 (or June 28 if you’re in North America), Kobayashi’s changes outside of his homeland will be put to the test. And while fans will no doubt have reservations, it’s hard to argue with that star ocean 5 has not changed for the better.

For starters, a shorter runtime doesn’t mean less content. On the contrary, it’s just much faster to get through. The blunt conversations with NPCs and the drawn-out cutscenes have been reduced to properly integrate the story into quests. It’s a simple and rather obvious change, but one that ensures players get hit with as few interruptions to play as possible.

“We’re not taking control away from the player,” says Kobayashi. “Come in earlier Star Ocean you’d have a lot of long, static cutscenes that you’d have to watch, then you’d play a game, and then you’d watch another cutscene. Here, however, we don’t want the player to feel like they’re in charge at any point. It’s a really tough balance to get that interactivity alongside the kind of story we want to tell, but I think the balance we have between the dramatic storytelling and the actual gameplay is what we’ve been aiming for from the beginning.”

Instead of cutscenes, there’s more emphasis on world building as you explore towns, talk to residents, and interact with your allies. On a typical stroll through a city, townsfolk always seem willing to indulge in what seems like small talk – and in previous games that was exactly what it was – but now they really offer usable information about the environment, or about a search.

Again, this may sound obvious, but then Star ocean has always been that little bit different, forcing players to work extremely hard for the inevitable story.

By akfire1

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