Let’s find out together, in this dedicated preview, what were our first impressions playing the demo of Sea of Stars, a promising RPG with a strong emphasis on puzzles and environmental puzzles
Born as a subsidiary and often mistreated, the indie branch of the gaming industry has, in recent years, churned out pearls of rare beauty and complexity. We would hardly have expected, at the dawn of the genre, titles such as Hades, Disco Elysium, Hollow Knight or Cuphead and all those video games which, in addition to having an exceptionally high basic quality, have also managed to compete in terms of sales with the big AAAs . In short, incredible commercial successes born from meager resources (obviously compared to blockbusters) and a lot of healthy inventiveness.
Since its announcement during the Indie World of December 2021, we have also included Sea of Stars, son of the creators of The Messenger (as well as its prequel) among the extremely promising titles arriving on August 29 on PC, PS4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch. During the last Nintendo Direct, in addition to the release date being revealed, the arrival of a free trial version on Nintendo eShop was also announced. And it is precisely from this Sea of Stars demo that we decided to draw our first impressions, which were then transposed into this preview.
A preview of Sea of Stars, promising in the right place
The Sea of Stars demo throws us in medias res into history, of which we have really understood little, we admit it. After making us choose between two different protagonists (both in aesthetic and purely classy terms), even if it is then possible to exchange them during the demo, the game puts us in command of three adventurers: Zale, Valere and Garl. The three are on a journey, with a purpose not clearly specified in the demo, and to reach their next stage they find themselves having to make a pact with a group of pirates: if they recover an ancient artifact, they will take them with their ship to the next destination .
In short, everything is simple and linear and, although we repeat it we have not understood much of the narrative, the lively characterization of the three protagonists shines through and captivates enough to really want to know more. Of course, everything remains on the surface, and it would be bad considering that the demo lasts about an hour and a half, but that sparkle that shines through as soon as it has really been able to capture us and has planted a sprout in our unconscious which pushes us to wait with more hype for next August 29th.
Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles! | Sea of Stars preview
Sea of Stars is an RPG that places great emphasis on environmental puzzles and exploration, rewarding the gamer for every side road taken. Even in the first city, partially inaccessible (we always think for borders dictated by this trial version) there really is a lot to find, among treasure chests, alleys and even a hidden shop. The world map offers only two explorable areas: one dedicated to fishing (a very simple mechanic to understand, but not to execute) and a dungeon full of environmental puzzles in which our protagonists will have to venture to look for what the pirates want.
The puzzles are basic rather simple and immediate e they all rely on moving blocks or particular color combinations to get to push buttons, but players who stop to think a little more and try other combinations will, again, be rewarded. Healing items and more powerful equipment await you in optional areas and alternative paths: Sea of Stars tends to give very much, if it is in front of a player willing to explore it.
Let’s fight! | Anteprima Sea of Stars
Sea of Stars’ combat system captured us as much as its exploratory phases. Once you have engaged an enemy, perfectly visible on the screen, the action will move to a turn-based battle, with some peculiarities. In fact, if initially it seems to you that you are faced with the classic scheme with cadenced shifts, a party of three and the usual commands for attack, defense, skills and objects, we can assure you that you are only scratching the surface.
Unfortunately the demo is not very clear in this respect, but we think that once the full game is released everything will be clearer. Basically, Sea of Stars will allow you to enhance your skills when used with the correct timing. Let’s elaborate: Valere has a skill where he throws a boomerang that hits enemies. Each time the boomerang hits an enemy, it returns to Valere and, if you press the A button with the right timing, Valere will send it back to the next enemy, thus being able to strike multiple times. A bit like we have seen, in the past, with Mario’s RPG games.
The premises are there… | Sea of Stars preview
What we have been able to notice, unfortunately, is that often these timings are not easily understood and it will be necessary to pay particular attention to the sounds and visual effects on the screen to get used to them. Not necessarily a defect, mind you, we simply talk about mechanics to be explored over time, to handle them with care and really get the most out of the otherwise rather difficult clashes.
The combat mechanics certainly don’t end there. For example, enemies may have, in some clashes, icons that indicate which weapon or element to attack them with to make their defense falter. There is also a combo bar, which once filled will allow you to activate special abilities that can make allies recover all health or inflict massive damage on enemies. In short, a rather deep and articulated combat system, which we hope to be able to explore further once the game is available in full version.
From a purely technical and graphic point of view we have little to say more than what already transpires from the trailers shown. The guys from Sabotage Studio have been able to create an excellent pixel art, which reminded us a lot of Owl Boy, in an incredibly colorful and detailed world. We didn’t have any particular performance problems, even if we admit that as far as the timing of the attacks is concerned, perhaps Nintendo Switch is not the most suitable console for mastering. 60fps seems almost critical here, but we’ll see.
… let’s see what will come!
This ends our preview of Sea of Stars here. Our first impressions of the Sabotage Studios title are overwhelmingly positive in almost every respect. A terribly promising game, especially from a playful point of view, with exploration and level design that reward the curious player and a combat system that certainly needs to be explored better, but addictive and stimulating. An excellent presentation showcase for a “minor” title, but which, if it maintains such a high level, will enter that Olympus of indies that we have initially mentioned.
Sea of Stars will be available from August 29 on PC, PS5, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Let us know if you too were fascinated by the work of Sabotage Studio below in the comments, we will continue to keep you updated with all the videogame and tech-themed news, guides and reviews! And if you are interested in game keys at advantageous prices, we suggest you take a look at the Kinguin catalogue!