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Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness

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Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is an action role-playing game developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix as a Playstation exclusive. It is the fifth game of the main series and the ninth released game of the franchise. As far as timeline, this game falls between the second and third instalments in the timeline.
"The Pangalactic Federation is nearing the fulfilment of its mission: Peace and Order throughout the galaxy. However, the embers of conflict begin to stir once more on the planet of Faykreed, 6,000 light years from Earth, as a new story begins in the ocean of stars."
Set on the planet Faykreed, the story begins with Fidel Camuze who is now matured somewhat from his teenage self to a 23 year old.  Thrown into a relatively undeveloped planet that is in conflict with a more advanced space travelling race, Fidel must first petition with his father, the King, to rally troops to protect cities including Sthal. He is joined by his persistent and loyal childhood friend Miki Sauvester, the heroine of the game, and Relia, a young girl they rescue who quickly becomes the centre of everything.
First announced to be under development in early 2015, this will be a long awaited title for fans of the series. Integrity and Faithlessness has been a labour of love. After Yoshinori Yamagishi left the company the series was thought to be ended. But Shuichi Kobayashi was determined to see the series continue and after a lot of work in secret to ensure the proposal for the newest instalment would go ahead we see this beautiful result. True to its predecessors, Integrity and Faithlessness is a tribute to the franchise and built to bring the best of the game to the fans of the original series.
Fans of the series will find the combat system to be very similar to the other games where the player is able to control up to seven party members during battles. Improved game mechanics feature during conflict, storytelling cutscenes have been minimised so as to draw the player away from play time as little as possible and transitions are relatively seamless. Abilities to create are also present in the game as well as more complex character battle configurations.
When you first enter this stunning world you are guided through a very detailed tutorial on basic gameplay and battle sequences which will show you how to use your long and short range, strong and weak attacks, as well as blocks, dodges and combos.
After the tutorial, Fidel is guided around the city by his friends Ted and Miki to gain an understanding of controls and the world around him.  Quickly the friends encounter Eitalon bandits scouting out their beloved city and report to the Mayor who is more concerned with his inabilities in the job than taking action. Fidel decides the best action to take is to see his father, the King of Central Resulia. Miki insists on being by Fidel’s side throughout the events that follow and serves as a healer and companion throughout most of the story.
It is at this point of the game that the true scale of the battle is made known to the young companions who seek to prove their worth in the world around them, instead of being discounted for the children they are perceived to be.

Integrity and Faithlessness is a beautiful balance of story, battles and stunning graphics. The endearing characters of Fidel and Miki create a desire to be invested in the story and see it through to completion. The dialogue is simple and to the point, rarely keeping you listening for too long or to anything that won’t move the story along or expand on the character bonds.
Fidel is a rather serious character with the weight of his world’s fate on his young shoulders. His determination is great and you will him to succeed and become the true master of battle and swordsmanship that he seeks to be. Miki’s childlike nature is very cute as is her attachment to Fidel, and it’s obvious she is bound to his side, promise or none. Her temperament perfectly balances with Fidel’s to make a winning duo.
Fighting can feel a little repetitive at first but fleshes out as the game progresses and more skills are acquired. Emphasis is placed on mastering combos and working moves together. Repeating the same basic moves lends itself to a sluggish combat feeling that can be easily countered, so an investment in learning and perfecting battles is to the player’s benefit. Team management is also crucial to guaranteeing a successful battle- but this I will go into below.

Save points are regular but at times feel far away so are definitely worth using whenever you can. One of my major gripes with playing this game was that there were no save points before major battle sequences and if the battle was lost you were booted to the main screen to load the save file and begin the entire process again. While this seems minor it can become highly frustrating when following said save point there is a sequence of 3 general battle, followed by 3-4 major battles before a boss fight. If I happened to get all the way to the boss and then die, there were a good 6 or 7 battles for me to endure to get back to where I was.
The other thing noticed was that while in those 6 battles before the boss all my characters survived with minimal issues, a significant increase in damage was noticed in the final fight which could knock your party down pretty hard and surprisingly quickly. Revitalising my party members also seemed to have no effect, so no healing took place with administration of healing items. This is an issue which I would hope to see addressed.
Otherwise, the battles are highly enjoyable and watching your character speedily take down enemies around them with the greatest finesse was visually satisfying. Especially while listening to the great soundtrack behind each battle- so very retro arcade…loved it! The rewards for battles are also very fair and even generous at times which certainly makes it worth the struggles in the end.
The learning curve in this game is very good. While at the beginning it is a huge download of information to the brain during tutorial, the gameplay which follows is a steady upward slope allowing the player to become well accustomed to the play style and mechanics. Should you choose to have them available, additional tutorial steps are provided as required which is a great support in learning the game and progressively mastering it.
Side quests are also available and are found either through the person issuing them or via a bulletin board. All of these missions will contribute to your EXP and have some monetary gain or value. They also have no time limit which allows you to complete them at will when you feel a change of pace is in order.
All the above said, this is definitely a game worth checking out if you have played the previous instalments or if you are a fan of the earlier Final Fantasy style games. There is a lot that Integrity and Faithlessness has to offer and I’ve really only scratched the surface. Star Ocean will take you out beyond the solid ground of Faykreed and into space as Fidel follows his destiny.
With such beautiful attention to detail in every part of this game’s graphics and mechanics, it is hard not to fall in love with it.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is available now on Playstation 3 and 4.

Publisher: Square Enix Co., Ltd
Developer:  tri-Ace Inc.
Character Design: akiman (Akira Yasuda)
Genre: Action RPG
Rating: PG
Single player
Release Date: 1st July 2016


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