While I haven't experienced the classic RPGs like Chrono Trigger or the Final Fantasy games, Sea of Stars grants me a glimpse into that nostalgic era. Sea of Stars may be a love letter to turn-based RPGs, but it still manages to implement unique mechanics and feel like an entirely new adventure. Even though I wasn't sure what to expect, this game continually impressed me with creative environments and attention to detail.
Sea of Stars feels incredible to play
The first thing that strikes me about the Sea of Stars demo is how smooth the gameplay feels. Whether your character is climbing, jumping, swimming, or falling, every motion is fluid and seamless. The movement mechanics seem like they were designed with the player in mind, allowing them to freely explore the world without distraction.
While the combat seemed simple at first, learning how to use skills was easily the most fun I had in the demo. The character Valere has a skill called Moonerang, which bounces to multiple targets. However, you have to manually deflect the projectile when it bounces back, otherwise it returns to your hand. It becomes a sort of rhythm game, since every bounce gets progressively faster. Figuring out the tempo of this attack was surprisingly fun, and my progress was consistently rewarded with greater damage.
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The environment in Sea of Stars feels alive
Each section of the Sea of Stars demo is gorgeous. There are no environments that cut corners visually, and each area is distinct and beautiful. In the first hour of the demo, you step into Port Town, which is a city that's full of hustle and bustle. It doesn't feel like Port Town was designed around the player, rather, it feels like it's always been there, and I just stumbled upon it. Although I could only explore a small section of Port Town in the demo, there are passages that are blocked off in the interim, so I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the town.
One factor that sets the environments apart is the lighting. In comforting locations like a fireplace or bar, warm light blankets the surrounding area. This makes each room feel like home and heightens the sensation of nostalgia. Whoever arranged the lighting in this game is a genius, because each section of the environment is masterfully lit.
Too many puzzles, not enough exploration
Sea of Stars shines brightest in its environmental design, so it was an odd choice to devote a significant portion of the demo to puzzles. A large chunk of the demo consists of a single puzzle where you fix a light emitter. This puzzle demonstrates a unique concept, but it took up so much time that halfway into the puzzle, I was ready for the demo to be over. Unfortunately, this section overstayed its welcome, and stole the spotlight from the game's stronger suits.
Related: How to solve the light emitter puzzle in the Sea of Stars demo
The combat hits the difficulty sweet spot
At the beginning of the demo, I was worried that the combat would be too easy. However, as the demo progressed, the difficulty increased as well. By the end of the demo, combat was intense and satisfying, but never frustrating. I am thoroughly impressed with this difficulty curve, as it felt perfectly tuned around the tools I had at each point in time.
The abundance of healing items they give you at the start of the game seemed like overkill at first, but I ended up using every one of them in combat. At campfires, you can cook extra healing items if needed, which comes in handy during the later battles. I found myself looking forward to combat encounters, feeling confident that I could face challenges using proper strategy.
The Sea of Stars demo is a hopeful look at what's ahead
Each facet of the Sea of Stars demo was designed with love, from the vibrant environments to the fluid movements of the characters. It's clear that the developers adore classic RPGs and want to pay their respects to the genre in a passionate and creative way. This demo showcases several of the game's unique mechanics, without losing its intrigue by revealing too much. I am looking forward to the Sea of Stars release on August 29, 2023, and can't wait to see the game in its full glory.
For more Sea of Stars articles, come check out How to save your progress in the Sea of Stars demo here on Pro Game Guides.
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Sea of Stars – Demo Impressions