Sabotage, the studio behind the independent darling 2018 The Messenger, announced a Kickstarter campaign for his new project. Sea of Stars is a beautiful turn-based RPG that serves as a prequel to the Ninja Gaiden-inspired Messenger. However, rather than exploring the origins of certain characters, this prequel seeks to expand and enrich the world introduced in The Messenger.
Just like The Messenger was inspired by Ninja Gaiden and the classic Metroidvania formula, Sea of Stars borrows a lot from classic RPGs like Chrono Trigger, Breath of Fire and Illusion of Gaia. While this may seem like a jarring leap between such distinct genres, Sabotage says it was the plan that was going. “We always wanted to do an RPG, but it was just too ambitious as the first project and too risky to come up with no name for ourselves and propose such a great project”, explains Thierry Boulanger, CEO and creative director. “We wanted to start arousing interest in this world. We are slowly telling the important story arcs of this world, one game at a time. The kind of game we use is always the best way to tell what story we For The Messenger, it was a platform game because it was only one character and a more linear and direct mission. Now it’s all about exploration, a group of six and higher stakes, so the RPG is sort of shown here. “
Sea of Stars takes the world from The Messenger, which was flooded to the point that there was only one island left, and lowers the tide as we go back hundreds of thousands of years to a time when you could jump from island to island and explore the diverse communities that existed on them. In the video presentation that I saw, I witnessed a lively colony of humanoid seahorses, a group of gorillas hidden at the bottom of a dark cave and a cult of lizard assassins working at resurrect their evil goddess. All the while, the threat of a flesh monster who can manipulate bones, blood and flesh to create abominations to do his job.
To combat the creatures of the flesh monster, the world turns to Children of the Solstice, guardians born at the summer or winter solstice and acquiring the power of the sun or the moon. At the start of the adventure, you choose to play either Valere, a girl imbued with the power of the moon and carrying a hard-hitting stick, or Zale, a boy harnessing the power of the sun who uses his agility to dance the blade. Whichever character you choose, the story remains largely unchanged, and the other protagonist remains in your group and plays a crucial role in combat, solving puzzles and crossing the world.
During the presentation, I see how two characters play in exploration. As the two protagonists arrive at a head-shaped stone formation with a moon symbol at the top, the two characters manipulate the time of day at night, illuminate the symbol and open the door to reveal an enemy scorpion monster at combat.
Battles take place on a turn-by-turn basis, but they are far from being passive business relying solely on random number generators. By synchronizing your entries with the time when your attack animation occurs, you can inflict more damage on your target. Conversely, if you synchronize your defensive entry with the animation of your attacker, you can mitigate the damage caused to you. In addition, when you cast a spell, it sometimes requires certain inputs to maximize the effectiveness of the spell. For example, in a battle that I saw, Zale launched a Sunball attack, but before launching the fireball on the enemy, the user interface invites the player to crush a given button as much as possible in a given window .
When an enemy casts a spell, it diffuses a series of attacks that you can perform to neutralize the incoming spell. In a different battle, the enemy to be launched soon tosses two moon symbols, a sun symbol and a sword symbol over his head. This means that for each attack corresponding to these symbols, the spell will be weaker. Sabotage hopes that all of these, combined with standard elementary weaknesses and the interchangeable combat group, will provide a turn-based system that will surpass what other space titles have done.
A sore spot for many RPG players is the grinding requirements found in many traditional titles. Sabotage wanted to relieve this pain by making more reference to your battle plan and your ability to execute your movements than to the time and repetition that you devoted to the battles that led to it. “Grinding, at least in my opinion, can be tedious,” says Boulanger. “You always have progress; Thanks to combat, you always improve your character, but you always advance the story. The game is shorter, but you end up playing it more because you have no friction in replaying it because it is never a task. It is constantly evolving. For us, grinding is probably for you to spend more time in the game, but you will spend even more time in the game if you want to play it two or three times. “
Even though I didn’t get my hands on Sea of Stars, the game sequences that were shown to me were beautiful and engaging. The combat system seeks to experiment in an interesting way without alienating turn-based combat fans like me. When combined with meaningful exploration and a magnificent world full of mystery, I can’t wait to learn more about the next Sabotage title.
Sabotage is launching its Sea of Stars Kickstarter campaign today. If you want to contribute or find out more about the project, go to here. The title is still in the early stages of development, so players should expect to wait until 2022 before they can add the game to their PCs or consoles.