Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is the fifth game in the series and chronologically takes place before 3, which is also known as Till the End of Time.
The Star Ocean series has always been close to my heart ever since I was gifted Till The End of Time on my birthday. The game’s battle system and setting were a breath of fresh air and had me hooked. Eventually I played the older games which were pretty good but failed to grab my attention as much 3 did. Then came along the Xbox 360 bound Star Ocean: The Last Hope which was supposed to be a fresh beginning as the series went back thousands of years in time. That game didn’t do it for me either. Now years later Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is finally here, lets see if it rekindles the magic.
The game stars Fidel, a quiet Swordsman living in the village of Stahl on the ‘underdeveloped’ planet Faykreed. One day the village is attacked by bandits which has Fidel go to the capital to ask for help. On his journey he comes across a mysterious young girl Relia who is the wielder of some mysterious power. She has no control of this power or any memory so its up to our hero Fidel to get Relia back home, wherever it is.
Unfortunately the story is a big let down as the big mystery introduced at the start of the game doesn’t resolve into anything meaningful. The game is also pretty short as my playtime ended at just 27 hours while doing a significant amount of side quests. I had around 100 hours on my Till the End of Time save file for comparison.
Star Ocean games’ battle systems have always have been their highlights and it’s the same case with Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness. The game uses a modified version of the Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time battle system and is fully action based. Players can press the Triangle button to pause in-between battles to changes Roles, Use Items or Symbology but most of the time you’ll be thinking on your feet. All seven members of your party can participate in battle at a time which is more than double of Star Ocean 3’s. More party members does mean that there will be more and equally stronger enemies so don’t think that the game will be easy.
Players who have previously played a Star Ocean game or any Japanese Action RPG will feel comfortably at home. There are two basic attacks, X for Weak and Circle for Strong attacks. By holding either buttons players can access skills to deal massive damage. Four skills can be equipped at a time when manually controlling a character although they can be changed anytime during battle. As far as Action RPG battle systems go, Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness’ battle system is one of the best and really fun to play.
Exploration is fun in Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness especially in dungeons thanks to Specialities, which are skills that help outside of battle. These include marking treasure chests on your map so you don’t go running around like a headless chicken looking for loot.
The game’s Role system allows you to set tactics for your party members. Specific Roles also grant bonuses to stats so setting up your characters with Roles that suit them best is a huge part of battle strategy.
Technically the game is mighty impressive. Frame rates stay locked at 60fps on the Playstation 4 most of the time but take a minor hit while battling more than a dozen enemies at a time. Needless to say playing JRPGs at more than 60fps is really enjoyable, something with console gamers haven’t seen much of recently. Still the game’s ability to render huge landscapes and handle the amount of enemies at a single time is admirable. Although we’ve seen much better graphics from games release before it, Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness’ art style just looks beautiful in action especially while exploring.
As far as customizing the look of your characters is concerned there isn’t much to personalize. Character’s clothes and weapons visually stay the same except for one sword which changes for story reasons. Each character can be equipped with a weapon whose type is unique to them, a defence item like a cloak or armor and two accessories.
Side-missions in the form of quests are available early in the game which award neat items like skill books to make your skills stronger as well as items like materials or weapons. These quests are unfortunately very basic in nature and consist of mostly fetch an item or kill a specific number of enemies related tasks.
Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness has a few fundamental design flaws that hinder its ability to be enjoyable. A notable one is giving the player fast travel a few hours into the game and then taking it away an hour later for quite a bit of time. That part took me by surprise considering I was trying to complete side quests in the towns alongside story missions. Considering how huge the game’s areas are, traveling by foot back and forth from city to city wasn’t really an option so I had to drop a lot of what I was doing till fast travel came back.
The most disappointing aspect of the game has to be the stupidly aggressive difficulty curve. One moment you’ll be destroying enemies in mere seconds and then a new type of enemy comes along which knocks you out in a few moves. Did I mention the game has no continue function and you’ll have to reload your save file? There’s also a few very annoying battles central to the story where you have to protect a party member as she hacks some terminals. The battles wouldn’t be an issue but the enemies always keep on storming on and attacking the vulnerable party member while ignoring you. There’s less of you trying to protect the party member and more of you constantly healing her while you pray for the AI to quickly defeat the horde of incoming enemies.
The camera is also very annoying to use as it moves too fast at its default settings. After making some changes the camera did get better but it’s still susceptible to bumping up and down while traveling across uneven terrain.
Was Integrity and Faithless a disappointment? Probably, but maybe I had my expectations set unfairly high. I don’t regret putting in time to finish it though, the battle system is great and exploration was fun.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithless tries to look at the previous entries to replicate what they did, one thing it doesn’t do is be different from the others, the exact characteristic which made the Star Ocean series different. Here’s to hoping the next entry, if there is one, brings along change instead of trying to replicate a relic.
Star Ocean: Integrity And Faithlessness Review (PS4)
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithless does a lot of things right but at the same time makes some amateurish mistakes that greatly take a way from the experience. The game had massive potential but some glaring design choices will leave fans disappointed.