Review

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness Review

  • First Released Jun 28, 2016
    released
  • PS4
Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

Dead space.

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It's been seven years since the release of the last Star Ocean game, with tri-Ace and Square Enix's lauded science fiction RPG series laying dormant. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (or Star Ocean 5) breaks this silence, but after exceeding 30 hours buried in its beautiful yet barren world it's difficult not to feel disappointed. Its story and characters are underdeveloped, its mission design fluctuates between vapid and downright tedious, and despite gratifyingly complex combat and skill upgrade systems, the game is weighed down by a host of frustrating smaller problems.

Broadly speaking, Integrity and Faithlessness is a story about first contact with alien life. Fidel and his childhood friend Miki choose to involve themselves in their home planet's civil war, and along the way discover a bigger problem. Technologically advanced beings from another world have landed on their planet and are using it for nefarious purposes. Along the way, Fidel gathers a ragtag band of scientists, soldiers, and space pilots as he finds, loses, finds again, loses again, and eventually tries to rescue a mysterious little girl named Relia.

The first contact story has been done better elsewhere--numerous times over--and the rest of Star Ocean 5's narrative elements fall equally flat. The characters are bland with little to no emotional development, and feel more like a list of tropes than a believable group of friends, making it difficult to care about their trials. Dialogue is about as subtle as a dump truck, and the unfolding plot does a poor job of communicating why these six strangers have decided to band together and risk their lives to save one little girl. There is a lot of melodrama between them with no power behind it. The relationship between Fidel--a late-teens boy--with Relia--who is maybe five years old at most--is particularly distressing, with lines like "Without you there's no chance I can be happy!" coloring awkward tonal shifts. They do not grow together; rather they take confusing emotional leaps, and for this reason it is difficult to invest in their journey.

It's a little too quiet out here...
It's a little too quiet out here...

The world of Star Ocean 5 is big and beautiful, but feels just as empty as its characters. Open fields of detailed emerald grass shimmer under clear blue skies. Sunlight bounces off rocky mountains in the distance. Deserts are a deep, dark blur of brown as the wind whips sand around your party, and technology labs sparkle and shine with walls of glinting metal and glowing light. These areas are vast, and the dungeons you find hidden in corners of the world are mazes of corridors dotted with treasures. But none of it feels alive. Enemy creatures spawn in clumps at generous intervals throughout each area, but if you leave and come back the same enemies will appear in the same spots without fail. It's a predictable and shallow world, which makes it a chore to complete quests that require a lot of backtracking on foot through the same areas.

Most missions, both in the main story and side quests, include a lot of said backtracking, and the game adds insult to injury by not including a readily available world map. There's a local map you can reference, but you can't look at areas beyond it. If you forget where a certain town or facility is, you're doomed to wander until you find it or remember until you unlock fast travel towards the end of the game. It's easy to get lost. You're also prevented from entering certain areas until you've progressed far enough in the story, gating you on a mostly linear path and preventing you from exploring at will. The world looks vast and beautiful, but this rigidity and emptiness makes traversal unenjoyable.

Boom, baby.
Boom, baby.

Star Ocean 5 is at its best when you're in combat. All characters in your party fight at once, though you can only directly control one at a time. You can swap between characters on the fly, which comes in handy during tougher boss battles where you may want to oversee healing efforts yourself. At its biggest, your party has two casters, two swordsmen, a melee brawler and a ranged attacker--as well as Relia, who can't do anything besides heal. Battles are a flurry of motion and light, and are an absolute delight to take part it. Even longer, tougher boss battles are welcome challenges, and your team dancing around the battlefield in real time is a gorgeous display. That is, if you properly develop and assign combat roles and skills prior to the skirmish.

Combat roles are unlocked by defeating enemies and collecting special points. You spend these points on upgrading roles, which determine the behavior of your characters in battle. For example, you can unlock healing roles that prioritize casting spells and assign them all to one character, putting them in charge of buffing the party and debuffing enemies. Or you can give roles that prioritize the use of special attacks to your casters, which insures they keep out of harm's way while still dealing the highest damage. You can also combine points and special items hidden throughout the world to unlock special, more powerful attacks that are unique to each character. These attacks can be lined up so that characters automatically perform them on the battlefield, or manually executed if you switch to a specific character. This all creates deep levels of customization within your fighting party, and taking the time to unlock, develop, and assign combat roles and skills makes fighting a visual treat and a breeze to navigate. Cooking up assignments and strategies before major boss battles was a highlight of my time with Star Ocean 5.

Outside of battles, missions suffer from agonizing objectives. Too many large-scale battles come with the caveat of having to protect a certain character from dying while fending off waves of enemies, adding some much-unwelcome tower defense into the mix. Some combat missions involve seemingly never-ending waves of enemies with no direction for defeating them, and so you battle on and on until you realize you have to make an attempt to escape the area. Still others pit you against enemies you can deal no damage too, and force you to burn up your magic and health points until dialogue leading up to the introduction of a macguffin plays itself out. These missions are poorly designed, an egregious abuse of your time and tools, and become wars of attrition very quickly.

"Bird droppings? Where the heck am I supposed to find those?"

Side quests also suffer from this tedium. Some involve you conversing with characters in your party to get to know them better. In theory, the more you interact with certain characters, the more likely they are to heal you or assist you in battle, or go into an attacking rage should Fidel be knocked out. I spent a lot of time completing these drab, unentertaining side stories and noticed no difference in how other characters helped Fidel in combat. Maybe I was too busy trying to hear what they were saying over the din of battle, but in truth my efforts didn't feel like they made a difference.

Speciality skills--including crafting, scavenging, emoting, and having treasure and enemies appear on the minimap--are unlocked by completing side quests. All of these, with the exception of the first two, are unlocked by completing fetch quests marked on quest boards in every major town. These entail bringing certain items collected on your journey back to the board or hunting down and talking to certain NPCs. There's no way to know if or how you collected certain items, as most of them are obtained through drops from random encounters. There is also no indicator where in the world you can find certain things--you have to do the trial and error on your own and it's nearly impossible to track your progress.

"Ayyyyyyeeeeee!"

It's also possible that you will never unlock certain specialities because you never complete enough or the right kind of quests; I went through the entire game having unlocked a fraction of these specialities. Crafting is opened up by completing a handful of banal fetch quests for a girl named Welch, and the feature itself isn't worth the trouble when you can pick up or buy the most powerful items anyway as you progress through the story. These side quests are a complete waste of time, and you can make it through the game having not completed any.

In addition to all this, Star Ocean 5 suffers from some very strange technical issues. Characters constantly talk over each other. Side-conversations begin over talks pertaining to the plot, and if you're talking and run into a random encounter, the conversation will continue beneath the sounds of combat. Too often, while in a boss battle or major conflict, characters would have conversations key to the plot. In these circumstances, unless you've had the foresight to fiddle with the sound settings beforehand, you won't hear any of it. Pivotal conversations were lost to me over the clash of swords and spells, and you can miss important plot points if your subtitles aren't on or you didn't change the audio settings. Oversights like this are unforgivable.

Also, Fidel can bump into and physically move NPCs but will walk straight through his teammates like they're ghosts. It's incredibly jarring and pulls your right out of the experience. There is no autosave and the game's manual save points are infuriatingly few and far between. There are also parts of the story where the game actively blocks you from saving. There was a moment between large battles that I ran into an inn hoping to use the save point, but the game wouldn't let me save. When I failed the second battle, I had restart from before the first one, which also included a lengthy, unskippable cutscene that further wasted my time. Running a gauntlet without reprieve is unnecessary, and doesn't serve to add a challenge--only frustration.

I feel you, man.
I feel you, man.

In the end, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness' payoff was not worth the time I put into it. The story feels bloated and empty, with no worthwhile emotional payoff in character development or narrative. Combat and its subsequent upgrade systems are genuinely fun, but the overall experience is held back from being great by issues elsewhere. As a fan of Japanese role-playing games, it's heartbreaking to not be in love with Star Ocean 5, but it holds too tightly onto outdated character tropes and concepts--like the unfair save point system--that make it feel dated and out of touch. If you came to this game seeking the epic sci-fi glory of the series' early years, this is not the Star Ocean you are looking for.

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Now Playing: Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness - Video Review

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+
Back To Top
The Good
Battles are beautiful to watch and fun to execute
Combat roles and skills systems offer an enjoyable layer of strategy
The Bad
Shallow, cliched characters
World feels empty
Uninspired missions
Audio and visual mishaps yank you from the experience
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Alexa Ray Corriea spent more than 30 hours exploring Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, completing the main quest and numerous side stories. A copy of the game was provided by Square Enix.
318 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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mossy48

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star ocean 5. my final time is 76 hours.

i'd give it a strong 7/10. good story.
fairly easy combat system for the most part. side quests arent too aggravating. fairly straight forward item creation options.

can complete the game in probably around 40 hours. but in order to flesh everything out and do each thing youre looking around 60-70 hours.

the soundtrack is amazing. just saying my short list of gripes: this game was made by tri ace who partnered with square enix ((formerly squaresoft and enix arts) company who makes final fantasy) should have had more voice acting in the game and less text, along with this proper facial movements for onscreen characters. this is a 2016 game. final fantasy 10 had this down in 2001. that's 15 years ago.

the weapons and gear changes are not reflected by the costume or the battle scenes as they were in star ocean 3 or 4. or the final fantasy games. its like going back to the 90s in this respect.

the camera is downright horrible. it is not fluid it doesnt follow you over the shoulder and unlike previous star ocean games it cant be used on a wire type.

during combat the reserve gauge is easy enough to fill for your money and experience bonuses but the method to increase skill point bonus is not well thought out due to the nature of enemy attacks being heavy and thus breaking your gauge. can be a pain to fill this portion.

now ive always been one to grind grind grind. so the difficulty never gave me an issue. at all. i was at lvl 99 by the time relia was kidnapped the second time.

all in all the best part of this game is the soundtrack. period.

not a terrible game, not a great game. solid 7.

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SaurabhAV

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Lol wow Alexa, Way to rip this game a new one. Love it

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Conser

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I've been playing it and I've got to the part right before the asteroid belt and I'm loving it. It's challenging and it keeps me on my toes quite a bit. The only downsides I saw were that certain enemies respawned too fast and that there are no real recipies for synthesis that I can find. Just some tips. Kinda annoying really, but those are the only downsides I've seen.

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SonyLife

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Imagine my surprise when I saw all the negative reviews this game was getting, including from Japan, and I decided to buy this game anyways, only to find out it was awful :((( Digital version to boot.

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Gelugon_baat

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@sonylife: Well, someone could say to you "told you so".

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deactivated-5893d17ed65b4

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Fairy Fencer next!

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Elnidfse

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Edited By Elnidfse

Imagine my surprise when I went through with my purchase of this game and it ended up being great. Though my opinion is rather biased, being an admittedly hardcore fan of the series, there is so much wrong with this review on a purely factual level that it boggles the mind. On the fan side of the spectrum there is so much reference, music, head-nods, and features from every game in the series that it's almost criminal that this wasn't mentioned at all. Don't they have a writer who's played a single game in the series? I guess this is once again the problem of assigning authors to genres they aren't suited for.

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CyberEarth

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@Elnidfse: "reference, music, head-nods" do those improve the game play experience at all? Do any of those features correct the issue with walking through your team-mates like ghosts? Do those things correct the terrible (and un-needed) crafting system? Do they stop plot dialog from occurring during combat?

Oh! I know! Does any of that nostalgia correct the fact the main character is essentially a copy/pasta job from earlier entries in the series?

Sorry, but the criticisms brought up in the article are truly spot-on.

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Elnidfse

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Edited By Elnidfse

@CyberEarth: Does any of that nostalgia correct the fact the main character is essentially a copy/pasta job from earlier entries in the series?

He's not even remotely related in both personality and looks to any MC in the series. I'll have to ask what character he was cut and paste out of. In regards to protagonists, he's the most mature out of the entire bunch and handles losses and setbacks more appropriately than, for example, Edge or Roddick.

Though, you seem certain so if you don't mind me asking. Would you care to provide similarities he had with previous MC's?

Onto your other complaints. Does "walking through your allies" really break the entirety of your immersion that you'd dock several points on that alone?

Does your opinion of the crafting system reflects how every game in the series had a crafting system. Does it even reflect the necessity of the crafting system in the bonus dungeon and NG+ playthroughs (provided you don't use the game-breaking specialty)

And if we played the same game. Chit-chat occurs during battle, but plot takes place before battle. Not that other AAA titles have shied away from either approach, yet they seem to be forgiven for that sin.

And for "do those things improve gameplay experience at all". They are enjoyable to recognize, so I would assume they do, since I sought them out because I knew after the first that they were there.

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CyberEarth

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@Elnidfse: I'm glad you enjoyed your game. But it's not a $60 PS4 title. It's a $20 PS3 title sold and packaged as a $60 PS4 game.

It feels unfinished, unpolished, and utterly bereft of appropriate content expected of a StarOcean game.

And seriously, you have to ask which SO character looks like Fidel? Really? Look at Fayt from SO3. Fidel looks like Fayt 5 years older with better graphics.

http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/krile/1017278/67336/67336_original.jpg

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/starocean/images/4/49/Star-Ocean-Integrity-and-Faithlessness_2015_09-27-15_009.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20151013171059

Hell, even the majority of Fidel's moveset shares names, animation styles, and attack patterns as Fayt. Want to know why people think that's a copy/paste job? Because it FEELS like a copy/paste job!

The game is well-deserved of it's 4-6 reviews it's been getting. This should have been a solid 7-8 game (or better), but it falls flat due to poor execution, limited content, polish, and bugs.

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Elnidfse

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Edited By Elnidfse

@CyberEarth: If you're talking about appearances based on hair and eye color, Roddick looks the "same"

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/starocean/images/f/f2/Star_ocean_first_departure_art_2.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20150701121129

And in reference to their attacks, it hasn't strayed far from what every main character in the series has used, up to and including double slash and air slash. In terms of both appearance and personality, analyzing looks outside of basic hair and eye color, Fidel is unique. And, to point out as this is something that's rather important to this particular grievance, the artist is different.

Now in reference to the moveset; as mentioned before it's the same as every MC in the series. To have flak with this is to be upset that every Breath of Fire's MC is named Ryu. Next, 20 (provided you ignore all the quests and the post game dungeon) to 30 hours of content is a fair price for reasons I'll compare below.

To address your statements; certainly not as packed as the director's cut of SO3 (the version we got here in the states) but not that far different from it, were you to ignore the AGL's. It's definitely got it's problems. but not enough to warrant that people not even rent the game from a redbox.

Onto the crux of the issue:

The series has never been locked on fairly. That aside? Honestly, it's rather shocking. That this scored lower than First Departure Is silly. More content with similar lengths of backtracking and better character interactions, at 60 FPS,with a smoother presentation and better post game being scored less than an also full priced PSP remake is comical.

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Silverline62

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This feels like Infinite undiscovery 2 more than Star Ocean. Such a shame...

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SmartyPants

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Damn! My impatience burned me again. I preordered this and should have waited for the reviews. The first time you run through an NPC is really disconcerting not to mention the wonky camera. So disappointed. I just finished play Suikoden I & II and had way more fun with those classics than this poo pile

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franzito

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Never been into Star Ocean series. I wonder how good it can be...

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CRAPCOM1926

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@franzito: its ok.....the 3rd and Second game been the PEAK of the whole franchise.....thats not good.

I recommend to play SO 2 or SO 3 instead of any of the new star oceans.

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TxuZai

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Edited By TxuZai

Before you buy the game, look at this map

http://i.imgur.com/7YdFmK3.png

That is the whole world............

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Dustyn-Barlow

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@txuzai: One world in a Star Ocean game? What the hell....

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Rucio

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Dipped 17 hours into it, the game's fine so far to me, story is easy to grasp, maybe I don't have enough experience with SO (since I have only played SO2 on PS1). The only issue I have is the camera during battle as I have gotten used to the 'nodding' camera during walking. Combat is fine, you can skip them if you move Fidel out of their LOS. It's an enjoyable experience at least to me.

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mersmackmaster

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Excellent review

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leeko_link

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Edited By leeko_link

I'm glad I didn't pre-order this game, seem very rush to me. Well I guess I'll probably stick with The Last Hope and the End of Time and keep on hoping that one day Tri-Ace gets it right again.

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G4mBi7

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@leeko_link: The Last Hope dropped the ball story wise and is worse than SO5 in that regard.

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wahyudil

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have seen the bad japanese review ... and this review has confirmed it ... no fix like Bravely Default, this is the original super flawed version ...

can I hope a fix for the PC version?

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JohnSmith1977

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I played the game before reading the review. She is accurate but not complete in listing all the flaws and shortcomings of the newest entry in the SO franchise. I had avoided reading Japanese reviews because I didn't want spoilers. Bad move: the game wasn't well-received in Japan.

Now I am realizing that this game will likely never get fixed or patched. They had plenty of time to patch the game post the original Japanese release. They didn't, so all we got is the localised version with all the flaws of the original J release.

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G4mBi7

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@johnsmith1977: Patch the game? It's NOT a patch. It would be a complete and total redo like FF14 was from 1.0 to 2.0. The game is missing complexity and content. You can't fix that with a patch LOL

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VeryUsername

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Another failed exclusive.

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EdwardNygma

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@veryusername: Yep there have been a lot of those. Ryse and Sunset Overdrive come to mind.

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blkgsr

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Im was wondering if i made the better choice buying Tokyo Mirage Sessions glad i did but it can be cheesy but the combat makes up for it. I still might buy star ocean down the road im sure it was be $20 soon. Just glad I finally got my zotac 1070 amp extreme in man is it faster than my old 780 classified it doubles my framerates or more in some games. Might be overkill for 1080p but its at least a 120hz monitor. I did some benchmarks yesterday and it stayed in the 40's playing witcher 3 and doom maxed out. I have an ac running but still my this cards runs 15-20c cooler than my classified 780 which was a pretty cool card for its overclock. The highest ive got the card to hit was 55c in firestrike but the only con is its size it barely fit into my case and it's pretty big it's a cm storm stryker. I just barely clears the cables running to my hd's and ssd's. But if you have room recommend this card and no coil whine at all, but i had to get a bracket to help with gpu sag. And it boosts to 2037 out of the box thought that might be useful and I've hit 2125mhz so far overclocking, and i did push it all the way.

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wahyudil

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#FE has sold out in my country ... price will rise soon ... need to find one fast

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Alecmrhand

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Was really excited/curious/interested in this Star Ocean but had concerns. Glad i saw this before buying it.

Great Review Alexa Ray, it told me everything i needed to know and more.

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JohnSmith1977

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Edited By JohnSmith1977

Everything Alexa writes about is accurate and justified. I love(d) the franchise, but this one is a half-baked mess. I wonder if this game started in development for the PS3. The only thing next-gen looking about are the textures. It clearly uses high res textures, but I doubt the meshes have advanced at all. Some are clearly recycled from past games.

I am surprised she ranked it a "5." I think that is far too generous.

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louie_cloud

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The Good

Battles are beautiful to watch and fun to execute. Combat roles and skills systems offer an enjoyable layer of strategy

This is the reason why I enjoy Star Ocean games, the combat.

Ill get this game, been a SO fan since psone days. This is better than SO4 at least.

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Ghost120x

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A lot of the issues (except story) come from a low budget given by SE. It is still pretty enjoyable if you are a SO fan, but if you are on the fence, it's a "wait for sale" game. Not a fan of Alexa's reviews, but from what I played so far, she's right.

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DMCbr

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Edited By DMCbr

Who is this Alexa? Serious!

Tri-ACE never made a bad game before. Its the best console RPG game company ever.

Maybe is because of this that gamespot reviews aren't trusty at all... Fail review 0.5/10.

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JohnSmith1977

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@DMCbr: Geez, what a fanboy! I love the SO franchise. SO - The Last Hope was unfairly ripped. It had a great story. I didn't think the VO was bad. The English VO matches in delivery and tone the original Japanese VO. Anyway, the new Star Ocean is an epic fail. I've probably played five hours so far, and it's a complete disappointment. Very very clearly the budget was much smaller. Everything Alexa says is SPOT ON!

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G4mBi7

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@johnsmith1977: Last Hope had a great story till the ending that made no sense and went completely retarded with the twist. Also the English VO was terrible :(

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krazyq69

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Just beat The Last Hope few weeks back, took 70 hours and I regret playing it. This review is exactly how I felt about it so I guess I'll be skipping this.

I might have to okay Till The End of Time again to remember how great SO once was.

Now we wait for FF XV

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Dragon_Nexus

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@krazyq69: Except for dat twist. UGH.

That was what made me not play SO3 any more...never did complete it.

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G4mBi7

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@Dragon_Nexus: I liked the twist at the end of SO3, it was great! The one in SO4 was terrible tho

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AQWBlaZer91

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Edited By AQWBlaZer91

Oh dear now it's Star Ocean's turn to mess up. I know Tri-ace developed the game while Square Enix published it but seeing the amount of disappointment Square Enix have done this decade I'm not surprised.

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AndreasRufus

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Ohhh... It's Alexa again!

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DAOWAce

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Time to go back to the old Star Ocean and Suikoden games..

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rikku45

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I give this review a rating of Mediocre.

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indzman

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Alexa Ray Corriea is one of the worst reviewer in gamespot, sorry had to say this.

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TxuZai

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@indzman: shes spot on with this review, heck even too kind, the game deserves less than a 5.

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G4mBi7

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@indzman: She's not wrong about this game tho haha

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Faytforever

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Edited By Faytforever

Jeez Alexa really don't like this game huh. I played this for 4 hours and I love it! I really like to see her review star ocean till the end of time. That game is my favorite star ocean series!

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G4mBi7

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@faytforever: The score is deserved. I'm enjoying the game myself but it's a low budget mess that overly easy and simplified.

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ZmanBarzel

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@faytforever: Thing is, what seems fresh and fun at four hours can end up tedious and monotonous when stretched out to many times that length.

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deactivated-57d0fe42747d9

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This review was really good and very detailed. I don't even play Star Ocean games but I feel like I now have an intermediate knowledge of the way the games play, simply because I watched this video review. Maybe Alexa will be the next Kevin VanOrd?

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Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness More Info

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  • First Released Jun 28, 2016
    released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is an epic adventure that introduces seamless transitions between gameplay and dynamic cut scenes, adding a new layer of depth and immersion to storytelling in the series. The popular real-time action battle system from previous titles has been overhauled with improved game mechanics and action sequences for a truly uninterrupted in-game narrative.
    6.6
    Average Rating33 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
    Developed by:
    Tri-Ace
    Published by:
    Square Enix
    Genre(s):
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol