I have not been deeply interested in talking about Sea of Stars for many reasons. I find the discussion about it to be more rote, dry, and boring than the game itself could ever be. Blah blah blah it's not as good as good as Chrono Trigger blah blah blah. It's a solid reminder that out of all capital G gamers, who are all annoying, JRPG fans are the most annoying of all. This is a tall bar to clear, so
But with all that being said, there are two aspects about Sea of Stars that I am interested in discussing, the first of which is this lil post. But before we can get into that, we need to talk about running animations. And also my ADHD, kind of.
Baby We Were Born to Run
I once wrote an entire blog post about running animations on my last blog, before I started this Café. In any game where locomotion is a primary mechanic, a good running animation can make or break the experience for me. There are games I've played that I probably would have dropped rather than finished if the running didn't feel as good as it did.
This is because, as I've discussed before, every game is a series of loops, and the longer I spend with those loops, the more likely they'll begin to get stale for me. My sense of awe and wonder begins to wane, and instead, I find myself wanting to zip through the mundane and get to the next plot beat or mechanic. Essentially, I'm trying to get from Point A to Point B faster. And a nice, quick, spritely run will do that.
All of this is to say that Sea of Stars feels great to move around in. The party moves at just the right speed to carry me to the next encounter before I start to lose my attention. You could almost say I have a deficit of attention. The kind that would be considered a disorder to some. Perhaps.
Anyways yeah one big part of Sea of Stars' ability to keep me engaged has been the movement. It's an aspect that I feel is often overlooked in role-playing games - contrast this with Starfield, where I'm constantly having to spam my jetpack everywhere to feel like I'm making some decent progress. But running is just one half. What's the other?
Up and Down and All Around
When a gameplay loop starts to get stale for me - usually around the 15-hour mark - there are two things that will keep me going. The first is an unholy amount of mechanical depth that can be built on for dozens of hours, letting me tinker and experiment and make the pieces fit together in ways I find interesting. Think SMT fusion, Nioh 2 builds, Monster Sanctuary party composition, and so on.
The second is set dressing. This is the side of the proverbial bus on which Sea of Stars hangs out. What you do 30 minutes into Sea of Stars is the same thing you'll be doing 15 hours in. It's the sense of adventure built around that loop that makes me want to keep playing. The way you run and jump and tightrope and climb around each new area in the game is just really fun! It makes me feel like I'm doing something, even if what thing is is funneling myself into the next combat encounter. This is coupled with the beautiful pixel environments, which make moving through each scene a joy instead of a chore.
I like the fact that it actually feels like I'm adventuring through Sea of Stars' world - and yes, it does make me nostalgic for the Chrono Trigger days to an extent. Anything that can convince me that I'm actually experiencing a game rather than a series of systems is doing a great job at making me feel immersed, and that doesn't happen very often!
Does Sea of Stars blow my mind? Is it the second coming of [Insert the Nostalgic JRPG you wish you could play for the first time again not because it's the best game you've ever played but because you miss being a child again here]? No! But it's a fun little adventure, which is about the expectation I had for it.
That's all for now! As I mentioned this is one half of the things I wanted to talk about with regard to Sea of Stars. The next post will be the thing that I hate most about it. Can you guess? Don't worry I'm gonna tell you:
It's him. It's this shithead. Ooooh I hate him. Ooooh just looking at his stupid grin and his stupid hair makes me want to write that whole piece out right now. But alas, it will have to wait. Check back soon to learn where my deep-seated hatred for Garl comes from, and absolutely do NOT tell me what you think about Sea of Stars here or on Cohost!