Star Ocean 5: My thoughts on the story (Spoilers)

So I finished the English version of Star Ocean 5 and having played it, the story is just as I expected really. In any case, the cast of characters were a lot better than Star Ocean 4’s cast if you ask me. As such I’m going to talk about all of the characters and what I personally thought of them.

Fidel Camuze: Without a doubt the best lead character in the series IMO. Why is this? That’s simple. Fidel isn’t a silent protagonist but his personality is kinda up to the player. A bit like Ludger from Tales Of Xillia 2 only he does have a baseline to work from in the sense that he’s a trained swordsman who desires to protect others. However aside from that he’s a pretty stoic hero with a blank slate personality. This works rather well in private actions since the choices you make pretty much define his character.

That’s not to say that he is completely devoid of personality though, he is still a decisive and dependable swordsman which makes him somewhat respectable unlike the rest of the cast (except maybe Roddick) and he still has that protective nature about him.

Overall, whilst he may not be my ideal character, Fidel represents the “Integrity” int he game’s title very well and the fact that he’s straightforward only makes him better for the lead character role. His character design helps this because it stands out very well.

As a fighter, I played him mostly as a tank. His guard counter is extremely useful and he has a lot of quick specials which allows him to exploit short counter windows without being hit.

Miki Sauvester: I knew I wasn’t going to like this character the moment I saw her. The standard moeblob childhood sweetheart does absolutely nothing for me at all other than serve as a huge obstacle in my attempt to get the ending I want.

I took great pleasure in pissing her off whenever I gad the opportunity and feeding her emotional destabilizers in order to lower her affection rating in my attempts to avoid getting the most generic ending in the game. Seriously though, why does every Star Ocean game make it so easy to get with the female lead? It’s beyond me and just plain absurd.

As a character, she isn’t half as irritating as Reimi and Milly thank god, I could just about put up with her, she’s decent at healing and she doesn’t constantly bitch about everything and instead tries to start comic relief at the other characters expense because who else is gonna do it? Miki is like the only character in the game who has absolutely zero street cred. She doesn’t have any military training, she isn’t a powerful signeturge, she doesn’t have a super powerful symbological sphere that slows down time. She’s just a barely looking 18-year-old who has a few symbological spells and thinks that makes her worthy of being amongst the rest of the cast. Oh and she likes to talk a lot… just a warning for you all.

Oh and to top things off, she has absolutely zero relevance to the plot. When you are upstaged by Ms Fanservice in this department, you might as well just give up.

Victor Oakville: At first I thought this guy was going to be another edgelord like Arumat, turns out I was wrong. At first this guy seems like a stoic and serious soldier, much like Fidel however after doing several private actions  I found that Victor appears to be quite the eccentric and quite possibly the most entertaining character in the game… even more so than Emmerson.

Just listen to his PA’s and you’ll see what I mean, this guy is the most interesting character in the game as well as the most interesting choice of voice. Crispin Freeman pulls this one off very well. Some of his lines are just hilarious and often the delivery of these lines makes him the star of the show.

I actually mained this guy for the vast majority of the game. His moveset just resonates with me. He is an excellent damage dealer with some really badass specials. Probably the most fun character I’ve had the pleasure of playing in a Star Ocean game. His reserve rush tops it all off though, divine wrath is quite possibly the best attack in the game in terms of dealing a fuck ton of damage.

Fiore Brunelli: And here’s the obligatory fanservice character, this time taken to the extreme. Thankfully she has more relevance to the plot than Myuria did and she does seem to make private actions a little more entertaining.

However as a fighter she’s… well, not the best. I just slapped the crusader role on her for double raise dead since symbology isn’t really the most fun role to play in Star Ocean. Like most casters in tri-Ace games, she is excellent at the start of the game and near obsolete at the end. This wouldn’t have been so bad if she wasn’t upstaged by Miki of all people in this department. Her reserve rush is interesting though.

Anne Partricianni: Probably the best female character of the bunch, that’s not saying much considering the fact that she’s the reason behind the infamous “kitty” PA’s. However Anne stands out due to not being a childhood friend, fanservice character or a loli. That alone puts her to the top. Plus as a cat person myself I can see where she’s coming from. She also serves as a good sparring partner with Emmerson when it comes to banter.

I didn’t use her as much as I could have but she seems like a balanced melee fighter. She has an anti air guard counter and interesting moves like acrobat locus and infinity kick. She has some great quick specials and great extended ones but sadly she isn’t much of a tank since she gets inferior armor to Fidel and Victor. However, that’s not to say you can’t tank with her should you choose to do so. She can do basically anything making her an ideal character to main.

Emmerson Kenny: This is the sort of guy you go drinking with but don’t associate anywhere else other than the pub. He’s essentially one of the lads. This is interesting when combined with his role as captain of the Charles D Goule. He’s a captain who isn’t completely stuck up like they are in most games and instead he’s a laid back playboy. Well I suppose if you’re a captain you can do whatever you want… including turning your entire spaceship into your own bachelor pad… just sayin. Plus his voice actor plays one of the Dreadlords in WOW, bonus points for that (even though it’s not original Warcraft).

Honestly though, it’s surprising how the Charles D Goule doesn’t have a private bar… and yet the Calnus in Star Ocean 4 does… I guess the Federation don’t commission those unlike the SRF. Shame.

In battle he is insanely powerful. I played him for a bit and found him a bit too powerful so I swapped back to Victor. He is a ranged character with lots of extremely powerful attacks. I occasionally swapped him in when I wanted to get rid of trash encounters quickly as his crescent wings skill is extremely useful for clearing crowds of enemies.

Relia: This is the character who represents the “Faithlessness” in the title (I presume). The biggest irony here is that the VA for Relia makes her sound older than Miki. Plus this character is actually very important to the plot considering the fact that she’s the first protagonist chronologically able to use forbidden symbology.

Thankfully her VA isn’t half as obnoxious as Lymle’s and she throws a lot of interesting questions in private actions. You can’t control her in battle but I gave her roles such as Terror Knight to lower enemies actions.

So that’s the cast, now onto the story. The game starts off in the small village of Stahl and gets attacked by bandits so Fidel and co seek help from reselia against them. However they eventually find an unconcious Relia from a shuttle. This character is being tracked down by Kronos who have been researching relia and appear to have given the people of Trei-kur their technology to oppress the eastern lands which is due to either carelessness or a deal made with their leader. However the eastern lands refuse to surrender to this threat and war breaks out.

I like how the entire game revolves around this war as it works well together with the game’s cast of characters who are mostly combat veterans. There are several war battles throughout the game, my favourite being the invasion of Eastern Trei-Kur. I think they melded these two plot points rather well to keep the story more interesting. However I believe they could have done a bit more to connect things on the villain’s side of things. How did Trei-Kur gain access to Kronos’ technology? Regardless, Trei-Kur is like what Shinra is to Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII. They are the “in your face but still not the real baddies” faction whereas Kronos, the guys who gave them that technology (obviously) are the main bad guys of the game who desire to use Relia’s power.

The best part of the story is simply the fact that throughout the game you will see both sci-fi and fantasy melded together. So there is more consistency here than other Star Ocean games. In a way it’s pretty much Star Ocean Till The End Of Time had  the entire game taken place on Vanguard III but with a larger scale as it shows the horrors of what happens when the UP3 law is broken and why it is so significant. With new technology in Trei-Kur’s hands alongside their more primitive society, it leads to them using this technology recklessly which causes a lot of danger for Reselia.

A lot of the complaints were that the game takes place on only one planet. However this is not an issue at all simply due to the fact that the sci-fi and fantasy melds in perfectly well this time around so they don’t need multiple planets to show things off. They still manage to incorporate space travel in there too allowing you to travel to the Caverlero and the Alcatraz which is better than nothing so i’d say that this game still lives up to its “Star Ocean” identity.

Even though this concept has been explored before, it hasn’t been explored nearly as much as it has in Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness. It’s not the best story in the series but it’s refreshing to see a cast of characters that are actually…normal. At least after having played Star Ocean The Last Hope… *shudders*.

So my question is simple. This game or Star Ocean 1? Well Star Ocean 5 obviously has the better graphics and battle system but how about the story and characters? Well Star Ocean 1 still wins in that department to some degree as the characters are somewhat more interesting. I think both games equally give a great experience. In a way they are for the most part a similar game in terms of how the story plays out though I was surprised how that in the ending Fidel and co all go with Emmerson and Anne and many of whom join the Federation. That’s an interesting twist of events.

However you can’t beat that good old school feeling of the first game. I find that while Star Ocean 5 may objectively be the better game, I find myself undecided on this. The cast of the first game was pretty solid plus it had you choosing different party members each time which made things a bit more interesting. In addition, the first game explores more philosophy with its plot twist which Star Ocean 5 kinda doesn’t. Also I found that Star Ocean 5 lacked different races. I think it’s something the developers must have overlooked.

So I am left undecided. Perhaps its for the best really. Star Ocean 5 is everything I could have possibly wanted from a new Star Ocean game and I am glad I picked it up and played it. I may also add that there are battles in the game where you have to protect Anne. I had a lot of trouble in the Japanese version fighting these battles due to the fact that Anne is constantly bombarded by attacks and if she dies it’s game over.

However once I got the right setup, the battles weren’t too hard. I suppose having done it beforehand I knew what to expect. Just expect a bit of a difficulty spike there. I would have mentioned it in my review but it was a bit spoilery and I wasn’t sure if the game warned me or not. Turns out it does warn you at the start of the fight so I have no qualms with it. However you may have a bit of trouble in those fights.

Regardless, it’s not a huge flaw, just something to be mindful of, hence the reason why I didn’t mention it in my review. The game is still solid regardless. At least they warn you unlike Star Ocean Till The End Of Time where you die so easily in the Urssa Lava Caves due to MP death which is barely ever explained in-game.

So all in all, I liked Star Ocean 5 a lot. It brought everything I wanted to the table as a Star Ocean fan and was refreshing to play. I will never understand the severity of the criticisms. Sure it’s not perfect but it’s still a solid game and offers just what any Star Ocean fan could possibly want. People have nitpicked this game to death and quite frankly it doesn’t deserve this.

This game has given me an experience better than any JRPG I have played this decade and that is likely due to tri-Ace being tri-Ace. Exist Archive is a solid contender though. However I found that the game had a bit too much filler for my tastes. Still a solid game though. Why can’t people just accept games for being imperfect and move on? I blame the hype for all this. People buy way too much into the hype these days and then they shit on the games when they don’t live up to their expectations

So do yourself a favor and remember that just because the game isn’t as good as you expected it to be doesn’t make it a terrible game. Star Ocean 5 most certainly isn’t one. I knew that the game wasn’t going to be as great as the hype made it out to be. I analyzed it from the start and the score I gave it was predicted to be a “good” rating. Well I ended up giving it a “great” rating. It sure pays to be a cynical gamer because you know better than to trust hype bait and while the hype bait was definitely needed for this game, it still didn’t influence my purchase of the game at all. All I wanted was a new Star Ocean game and I got it… now I’m just waiting for a new Valkyrie Profile game. In any case I’m going to move on from Star Ocean 5, it and Exist Archive gave me more enjoyment than any other JRPG I’ve played in the past decade and it’s a sign that gaming is going up.

 

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