This is a transcript excerpt covering the score awarded to Star Ocean: The Divine Force on the So Videogames podcast, episode 309: Cleavage = Romance.



BRAD: Carlos, we have been on this track for a while, you’ve been super excited for Star Ocean. You know, you got the game, you got in early & you’ve been playing? I know it was your jam. I know you were totally in the zone for this. I am very excited to hear your take on Star Ocean especially now that you finished it. So tell us from A to Z. What is Star Ocean?


CARLOS: first off asterisk. I’m going to apologize for asking about this game for like, I don’t know, a month straight. Because I kept going like, are we gonna get a code? Like, yeah, hit me up on this. But I paid my own top dollar for this game you did. I knew that. You know, I don’t want to like have to wait on that rely on that. And he’s played his game. Again, we’ve talked about this before. But when times are tough, you’re going through a lot of difficult things like I am right now. An RPG is something for me. That’s just total pure escapism. So I just wanted it as soon as it came out. So I bought the digital fancy version. And was able to play it early. And got it you know, as soon as it came out 9pm or whatever.

And yeah, so spoiler I love this game. It did what it what I thought it would do, which is super fun, open world third person action RPG JRPG. It’s comfort food. It’s like I think a lot of articles are coming out right now that says like, it’s the perfect JRPG comfort food. I’ll talk a little bit about the systems and some pros and cons. There are a couple of cons. But I would think in general. Yeah, it’s kind of what I wanted. It’s kind of what I told you, it would be kind of what I’ve been alluding to, which is super crazy, huge, you know, pretty long RPG that has fun combat and an interesting story. But nothing like it kind of drops off. Like I said earlier in the podcast, the final act or a third act or whatever. Yeah, there’s a little bit of an issue there. So in general, what is this game? This is the first I believe game where you can pick between two different protagonists. Okay, I might be wrong. I don’t do homework in this series.

So in the beginning, you can pick Raymond, who is the captain of a ship, and the whole idea of starship by the way is an RPG where sci fi meets traditional kind of monsters and you know, fantasy art. He that’s like what their whole thing is. And by the way, this takes place in the timeline of this universe, right after a game where you actually play as the people on the ground. And there’s space space people coming to meet them. And you’re basically like the people that live there already on the planet. Okay.


BRAD: Wait a minute, you lost me. Take it back a couple steps.


CARLOS: Well there’s a lot to I’m not gonna go through the whole Star Ocean series. But I’m overview right. Yeah, well, here’s the thing in the timeline of the games, like canon or whatever, one of the games, I think, I can’t remember which one it is Faithless. Integrity, I think is what it is. In that game, you start as characters, you know, your hero is like from a planet, and spaceships land. Right? And that’s, they cause all the problems. And they’re like, fuck, but you started as your main character as the person who lived there on the planet. Okay. And this game, which is, you know, takes place after that game. You can either be Ramen, who’s in the spaceship, right above this planet, or you can be the princess who is from that planet? Does that make sense?


BRAD: okay, so, yes. So let me as someone who is not super familiar with the Star Ocean games, let me just ask you this, then I know that they’re JRPG. So I know that much. And I’ve seen screenshots and so forth and so on. I don’t know that I’ve even ever played one, honestly. So I’m guessing this is a futuristic slanting sci fi theme, or is it more of like, traditional stuff? Like how does it play out in the terms of JRPG? Are we talking sci fi theme all the way through? Or is it like you’re a sci fi person on a fantasy planet? Or like, what is? What is the kind of the vibe are going here? Medieval stuff?


CARLOS: Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do. And I’m doing it poorly. So it just always mixes the two. Like, that’s what those games do. Right? It the idea is like, there’s a planet. And it’s kind of more traditional. And there’s fantasy, and there’s monsters, right? And then and there’s like gods times, princesses and you know, kings, and then there’s spaceship people. And they’re like, Oh, those simpletons don’t get it, right. And the two meet, right. And in the game right before this, again, on the timeline, you played as the characters who were just on this fantasy planet, and they again met spaceship people, right. And that was where all the trouble happened. Because they came down and there was a girl and as a whole thing. So and this one, you can literally pick between the two, right? But the whole idea of the story, and these, this whole series is that they always mix. But this game basically takes all the Star Ocean ideas of space meets regular people on planet who don’t know about space stuff and technology, and does everything you could think of with that combination. And I’ll get to it, meaning like, you know, if we were here right now, and we got visited by aliens, what would that look like? What would we not understand? Right? Like all the different technology and stuff. And they really go into that kind of juxtaposition. So that’s why I said it’s such a big deal. Like who you pick as the character. Because you’re you’re they’re picking the princess Leticia who was from the, from the planet, or you’re picking Raymond, who has an 80s haircut, by the way, and it’s out of control. It’s like this huge poofy blonde mess, and it looks stupid. Sorry, Raymond. And, and he’s like, on the ship, and you know, he gets shot down. And so he’s he lands on the planet. So that’s how the start the game starts. So when you’re starting the game, you meet this princess right away? Or you are that Princess? Got it? That’s a long, long intro. To the game.


BRAD: Is it important to have played any game before this one?


CARLOS: You don’t need to. But the only reason I bring that up and I think that people who have played these games before would appreciate my long intro is because I think that’s a nice touch. Because the game right before this in that series, or at least on the timeline was about spaceship people coming down. Which by the way, spaceship people is pretty funny. I keep saying, you know, sci fi, you know, future people. And in this one, you could be, you know, the woman or the person from space. I picked Raman from space. Let’s get to the game. So, another huge thing about this game is early on you you find this technology in your spacecraft as Raymond I’m just going to talk about this whole game as Raymond

Okay, the space traveling guy, you find this little technology robot thing that floats kind of orb thing, and its name is Duma. It’s very important for the whole story you’ll learn later. And so Duma allows you to do really, really fun combat. Now, if any of you played the demo. You’ll remember that combat super fun. And the reason why I was so excited about this game, you’re going to be in a huge open world RPG, you want the combat to be good. The report is it’s very, very fucking good. And what makes it great as Duma. So by holding down a trigger button, you can float with Duma and the let go of it and it’ll attack. So basically like pinpoint attacks with flight And it’s hard to explain. I’m not going to try. It’s just something you have to experience. But it feels fucking great. Now you didn’t play the demo. Did you?


BRAD: No by the time I heard about it it already been over because there’s a limited time I didn’t jump in.


CARLOS: it’s just super fun to do that kind of thing. Now, the only Mini Con in combat is that you have action points, they run out a lot. And so when you have no action points, it’s one of those games where you can’t do anything. I don’t know how many can either wait for it and come back. 100% or you did you do things like one of my favorite things in the world to do is you you write trigger with Duma, turn it on, you’re floating, you go to attack an enemy, I’m going to try to explain this because this is really fucking fun. And instead of attacking right away, you push a direction on your controller, and he’ll move to the left or right. And if you’re in the blind side of the enemy, you blindside the enemy, which means you stun them. And what that does, it actually gives you extra action points. So it’s kind of a puzzle game, where if you do all these moves the right way and kind of stun a bunch of people, you can start having a ton of action points.

BRAD: And this is real time, right?

CARLOS: This is all real time. Okay, but by doing that, now you’re not worried about like losing your extra points go to zero but now you have like 20 Instead of like for like you started with so you have more to use basically right? Then you’re not running out as much and that’s a huge part of this game, but they do not tell you about very well. Going back to tutorial, they don’t really do a good job of that but when you learn it it’s really really fun. And then I’ll also say you know you can control all the other people I never do you know, it’s like if you hit a button now you’re the your other party member right? I just don’t do that in these games I just stay is one person unless of course I’d like get killed and I have to switch and then there’s also stopped mode. So you can just stop the game and do things like use items right? You know, use a bomb use special upgrades or whatever. So you got to always do the anytime or you have to anytime separate anytime. Okay, so that’s always there but I’m not calling this a turn based game at all because you do need to use that all the time in a big specially bosses. But in the most time you’re out in the field playing this game you’re just like, do an action combat Gotcha. But you can always stop at anytime you want and do health potions, so okay, I know there’s a long review but I will say that’s still fucking fun. Like really really fun no matter who you pick because I tried all the different characters it’s super fun. But Juma just has a really really like a very unique feel.


And there are alternate endings, by the way. Because I picked Raymond I didn’t pick Leticia. So there’s a slightly different endings. Really quickly jumping to the thing. What’s amazing about this game without going through the whole storyline of it, is they because they guess they were making this, you know, as people make games through a pandemic, a virus shows up in this game. Yeah, straight up, like COVID style virus. And I got to think that that’s from what happened in real worlds to them.

Yeah. And so I hated it at the beginning. But it also was like, this is part of what our life was, you know? So it’s very interesting. And you literally wear a mask for a while. And I was like, nervous because I was like, we should get out of this hospital right now. Cuz yes, there’s a lot of infected people here. But um, there’s a huge section of the game where you’re wearing a mask, and they did the voiceover with mask. It sounds like, yeah, so funny. Yes.

Also, political stuff shows up in this game. Also, power corrupting shows up in this game, they kind of like go through a bunch of real world shit. And then on top of that, I won’t go into it. But just giving you a little bit of what I alluded to. Duma is AI robot. It’s part of a collective of AI. And they actually talk about things like the singularity in this game. Interesting. And they go really far into it. Like, it goes into things where like, you see YouTube videos about this stuff, right? Like, what would happen if we merge with AI? They get into all that stuff. So yeah, it’s just a much bigger than the sum of all of its parts. And you’re like, What is this game? There’s so much they’re like doing and the same time. It’s just a fun ass JRPG right. So okay, that’s the whole game. In a nutshell. Here’s some cons. Because I love this game. Right? And I love it and I completely mean it sounds sounds very positive so far. Positive. And by the way, because I’m fucking crazy. And I needed RPGs like, you know, in an IV just mean to me. I’ve beat this game in eight days.


BRAD: Wow. You know, many hours?


CARLOS: It looked at it I think 32.

I played it a lot. I could, obviously nonstop. But I think, you know, other people will probably take their time with a game like this, but I was just so compelled. Yeah, I just loved it. So I beat it in eight days. So here’s the cons. One. How do you want to call the third act? I would say when you think it’s the third act, you think it’s almost the end of the game? It’s like, oh, no, bitch. We just getting started. Oh, no. Okay, and that felt bad. Like, it felt bad. Yeah, cuz you go, it’s gonna wrap up. Now we get it, you know, we know what’s happening. And they go, No, we’re gonna do this. We’re gonna do this without spoiling anything. And you’re gonna go to this whole new area, and new map. And you’re like, oh, I don’t want to do more map. You know?


Not halfway, maybe. Three quarters way. Okay. Good chunk. Yeah, that’s like a whole other quarter. I would say like, six more hours or something. Jesus, okay. Yeah. And I was like, Whoa, I didn’t want six more hours. So every time I thought it was over, I was just here by myself and I kept laughing to myself, I’m like, and now we’re done. And then it was like, I guess I’m saving it and going to bed and saving it and going to bed so so that is a con i feel like they fucked up the momentum. Because this game had such a fun relaxing momentum and you’re learning more you’re learning more and about three quarters of the game you’re like it should be done now so I would have loved this game at 25 hours really?


BRAD: Yeah more more is not always better.


CARLOS: Not really. I know what that why they did part of it because again, they would they really go into AI and stuff and it’s really interesting. But yeah, so then the last part of that con is that near the ending might no spoiler but minor spoiler they do a bad job of telling you what to do. Well, here’s the minor spoiler is that you have to just randomly beat bosses, and they don’t tell you which is fucked. And that you just have to go in new areas new dungeon areas and get to the end of it. And it’s one of these fucking terrible mazes and stuff. And then those bosses are fucking hard like insane bullets bunch of bosses


And before they even show you the story to get to the last boss and that felt bad that felt really good to know to do that you just trial and error you go like I got to go down this area. Really? Yeah, you’re in like an area where like all these doors and you go in the doors and so every time you go into doors a dungeon and you get to the end of it and you and they don’t mark where you’ve been either so you’re like, it just felt like a fail like a real bad fail. So that’s the main only main fail because I was like this is just confusing as fuck. Beat all those bosses and by the way, played the whole game on normal until those bosses put it down to easy it was still difficult. Really still difficult and easy. And I was like holy shit what would have been like hard been that’d been like sadistic so and last boss last last boss, which of course I won’t tell you put on an easy again, because I was like no, fuck you. I’m done with this game. Like this game is over, you know? And I’m easy. It was still hard. So I just think they fucked the ending because super fun the whole way through. I never wanted it to end. And then I just wanted to add you know, like I was like, You fucked it up. You made me be confused. You put all these bullet spongy bosses that don’t make sense. And also boats, but new bosses didn’t fit the storyline either. You know, it’s like, we should we should be done. So. That was my main con, the other con, you meet a lot of okay, as a straight guy. There’s a lot of attractive ladies in this game to me, okay. And I like romancing ladies,


BRAD: I’m very curious where this is going. Go ahead.


CARLOS: I’m like, you know, I don’t know who you are listening. But for me, I found a lot of the women attractive. That’s what I’m trying to say. Okay. And yeah, you’re in a game for this long. It’d be fun to romance somebody look at Dragon ages of the world, etc. Sure. And so even though I found a lot of these ladies, you can kind of compelling to hang out with maybe do some side missions. No romance at all. Oh, not at all. Not even not even an inkling like no one even flirts. It’s really weird. I guess you don’t do that when you’re in space, I suppose. Okay, I’ll get to the one I’m trying to say is there’s a lot of cleavage. All right. And I’m not saying cleavage equals romance. Not whatsoever, but pretty good. That is a pretty good title for the show there.


BRAD: Wait. cleavages equals romance, yes. Okay, maybe that’s pretty good.

CARLOS: But what I’m saying is, is that in you know, in the JRPG settings, we played all these games, right? And there’s like attractive men or women, even you know, in these romancing options, the guy’s got his shirt off. He’s all muscle rippling, or whatever you want to be. Like, it’s just there’s not even flirting. And I was like, this seems weird. So it seems like with a game that big and with all that stuff to do and all that content, all the different issues that it brings up, you you would maybe have optional, I mean, maybe at the very least optional side quests, romance or something, right.


And there’s there’s these things called Private actions, which is basically the side quests with like different characters, and all those you like, you bond together, you know, it’s nice with friendship and stuff. But that’s it like that’s, again, this is such a small caveat, not a big deal. But it seemed weird being like, almost 35 hours and no one, no one’s even flirting with each other, this opportunity. And lastly, because it’s gone long, I will say there’s no post game and the fact that this game is such a massive world, and there was so much I didn’t do still, because I was just like, excited for it to be over at that point. I wanted to go back into the planet and like fuck around. But it’s that bullshit thing where you have to do old save.


BRAD: Okay, so there’s no postgame. It’s just like you just reload. Right before you beat the last boss and go back into it.


Yeah, which by the way, there’s there is other stuff to do. Like I’ve been watching, like YouTube videos, or like, oh, secret dungeon you don’t know about, but I’m not doing it. Dude. You know me? Yeah, it’s not canon. Yeah, no, no, no, it’s not canon. So overall, I really, really liked it. I think I liked it a little less because of the ending. Although I like the story a lot. And I think they did a lot of things that no RPG is doing, which is, you know, talk about real world shit. Talk about AI talk about computer talk about what it means to be have a soul and like, you know, you know, the whole what’s it called agency or my thinking of when it comes to AI, autonomy, autonomy and stuff like that. So really, really enjoyed my time, a little let down in the ending.


BRAD: Well, overall, you finish the game, it sounds like you’re probably not going to go back and play it again. Because you’ve got your canon ending and you’re done. Done. So I mean, it’s it’s fairly good time to give it an official score, perhaps.


CARLOS: I think so. And we talked about it before this show. I’m just thinking about as I talked about that ending, how it frustrated me so much. I’m going to use this Okay, I will do a score. Let me talk it out. Tales of arise. I liked better. And why is because one I just felt like I think I liked the combat better, weirdly enough entails a variety even though I love doom. Yeah, I love Doom and I love that mechanic. It’s super fun. But I think I did enjoy tells the rise better. And then also tells the rise ending I loved it. It came at the right time. And it was a very long ending, you know, with a lot of character development. I just loved it. And this one I didn’t like when it finally did get to the ending after all that like really extended ending. It was short.


BRAD: You know, I mean, that’s a bummer. RPGs they almost by definition need to have a pretty extended ending. You really want to see what happened everybody Yeah, what happened? All the different options you really want to like you wouldn’t want to get an exhaustive kind of wrap up that’s that’s pretty normal to expect.


CARLOS: Well, I’m what you do is you get that throughout the the ending you know, I mean, like you’re getting a ton of story. Like, this isn’t light on story. This thing has a lot of fucking cutscenes it’s just that it’s part of the game. You didn’t mean? Yeah, so I think Focht we know I didn’t give a score for tales of rise, I think I’m gonna give it… son of a bitch. I can’t believe I’m gonna do this.

BRAD: Carlos gives it son of a bitch?

CARLOS: No, no, I’m just saying some of it because I feel like it’s gonna be lower than I thought it was gonna give it because I loved it so much. I’m gonna give it an EIGHT.


BRAD: An eight. I mean, it sounds to me like you were shooting the seven you think eight?


CARLOS: No, it’s eight. It’s I just I feel bad eating an eight because like, there’s things in here that I like that are nine. Does that make sense? Oh, that makes sense. Like I like Duma, and that I’ve never experienced that kind of game play ever. And I really like it. And I like a lot of the story what they’re doing and that fact they did the virus and they they handled it well, I think responsible and stuff like that. I love the AI stuff. It’s gotta be eight because the ending fucked me man. It’s a six hour ending of bosses.


BRAD: I hate when they do that little stumble around to the very end but I mean eight out of 10 That’s a very respectable number. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. So that sounds to me like it’s an overall win. Would you agree?


CARLOS: it’s an overall win and I’ll say this is my last statement. If you’re looking for a good JRPG comfort food, it’s definitely that and I think a lot of people play games and don’t finish them right so like if you want to just jump in and like level up and have a bunch of cool story. You could do that and play like 20 hours of it. You know. there you go. As people have said many times most people do not finish most games. So right if all you want is a good 10 hours it sounds like it delivers that good 10 hours you can bounce into something else.


CARLOS: Star Ocean: The Divine Force is a delicious JRPG comfort food.

So Videogames Official Score: 8/10

Developer: Tri-Ace

Publisher: Square-Enix

Platform Reviewed: PS5

ESRB Rating: T. Official description: This is a role-playing game in which players control fighters trying to prevent war between interplanetary factions. From a third-person perspective, players explore various worlds while performing quests and battling enemies. Players use swords, guns, explosives, and magic spells to kill enemies (e.g., thieves, knights, robots, giant animals). Combat can be frenetic, highlighted by dwindling health bars/hit points, gunfire, and occasional explosions. Cutscenes sometimes depict further instances of violence, such as a man shot at close range. Some female characters are designed with revealing outfits (e.g., deep cleavage, outline of buttocks). The words “sht” and “ashole” appear in the game.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Subtitles: Subtitles are not able to be resized or altered.

Controls: yes, the controls are remappable.

Brad Gallaway
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