This game gets a lot of credit for having lush, beautiful pixel art with many bespoke animations overlaid with modern lighting effects. It manages to invoke old JRPGs while also clearly being a huge technical leap forward. It does this with the character movement too; traversing the world isn't just walking in 4 or 8 directions, it also involves jumping over gaps, shimmying over ledges, climbing walls, and generally interacting with the world in much more fluid way. The soundtrack is also wonderful, catchy, and fits the world well.

Sea of Stars more than deserves all the praise it gets for these things, and I think that carries the experience for many people. For me though, it wasn't enough to finish the game after about 5 hours of play time. I found the rest of it pretty lackluster. The story and characters didn't grip me at all, the puzzles were never complex enough to be engaging, and the combat seemed really shallow and not very customizable. I like that it borrows the interactive turn-based approach from the Mario RPGs, but I found the animations were poorly choreographed and the timings too hard to hit. There is also very little customization for stats or items, leaving characters with a small and static pool of abilities.

Despite the beauty and polish of the overall package, I needed either the combat or story to be compelling enough for me to be motivated to finish the game. There's a chance I could return to it later, but there are other RPGs I'd rather play first.

Reviewed on Sep 29, 2023