Sea of Stars preview – a gorgeous nostalgic RPG trip

Sea of Stars

Continuing our coverage of demos, we have Sea of Stars, a gorgeous retro-inspired RPG with a fun cast of characters.

The game lets us choose between Zale, a blade dancer who follows the guardian god Solen, and Valere, a monk who follows the guardian goddess Luana. This choice doesn’t alter the story, but it does dictate who your party leader will be.

From what we get to see in the demo, Sea of Stars has a pretty lighthearted story, with some fun comedic moments thrown in as well. I especially enjoyed the segments where our characters set up camp and we get to talk to everyone.

One of the most fun characters to talk to is Teaks, who enjoys telling horror stories around the campfire. It seems that she gets new tales as the game progresses, and I can’t wait to hear what other stories she can tell.

Sea of Stars also has some of the nicest pixel art I have ever seen. The game’s environments are all breathtaking, and every area looks equally impressive. The game doesn’t spare animations for anything, having vivid environments that are full of life for the player to explore.

There is a nice amount of verticality to the environments in Sea of Stars; characters can climb walls, jump gaps, and traverse all sorts of terrain. There is a surprising amount of platforming in the game, as well as some jumping puzzles found in dungeon areas.

The port town of Brisk is especially full of hidden secrets and climbable spots, where the player can walk alongside the roofs of houses to find secret chests. Your exploration is always rewarded with either gold, equipment, or cooking ingredients.

The demo drops us at some point in the story, where our characters are trying to reach Wraith Island before an eclipse happens. We don’t get much of the overall plot in the demo since a lot of things are kept redacted to avoid spoiling the story.

The developers have gone through a lot of trouble when it comes to stopping the player from finding out more about the game’s plot, which indicates that Sea of Stars is going to have a big focus on its storytelling.

However, just because the game is preoccupied with its story doesn’t mean that combat has been neglected, as it’s one of the most impressive things in Sea of Stars. The game features a turn-based combat system, but almost every attack has some reaction-based mechanic added to it.

The player can deflect moves when being hit, time their strikes to do more damage, and almost every special move has a unique gimmick related to timing your button presses. Valere, especially, has a move that can seemingly go on forever as long as the player keeps up with the inputs.

Sea of Stars is actually very challenging; enemies hit hard, and you will need to learn how their attacks work to time your defenses correctly. Food will also be an invaluable resource in the game since you will need to have a decent amount of healing items prepared when tackling a new zone.

The demo for Sea of Stars ends with a fantastic boss fight against the chromatic apparition, a giant shapeshifting creature that can be found inside of a secret portal. The boss resides inside this psychedelic empty void, and it’s a big test of the player’s mechanical knowledge when it comes to the battle system.

Sea of Stars is a really nostalgic trip for those who grew up with the more iconic Super Nintendo RPGs; it has the same warm and cozy feel that classic Square titles had, with a high level of care and thought put into it.

Sea of Stars has gorgeous pixel art, challenging combat, and even a fishing mini-game, but there’s so much more to it. It’s exactly what retro RPG fans are looking for when it comes to a new title, and it feels like a celebration of the genre rather than a game that simply decided to use the retro aesthetic.

This was a very impressive demo that hints at a bright full release once the game comes out. The demo for Sea of Stars is not that long, but the game really resonated with me in the short time that I was exposed to it, even though I normally don’t enjoy turn-based RPGs.

Sea of Stars is set to come out on August 29, 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).



Fan of skeletons, plays too many video games, MMO addict, soul-like and character action enthusiast.

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