Sabotage Studio's retro-style RPG Sea of Stars was recently delayed to 2023, but it hasn't been all bad news for fans of the upcoming, frankly stunning-looking pixel art game. Yesterday, the developer announced that the title would also be making its way to Sony consoles, and, alongside that, we got a really good look at the game's combat.
Thierry Boulanger, creative director at Sabotage Studio, shared a breakdown on PlayStation.Blog of the combat, which is heavily inspired by Super Nintendo classics like Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG. Boulanger said that the team had some very clear ideas of what they wanted to start with: "there would be seamless transitions from navigation to combat, no random encounters, and no grinding". Sounds utterly perfect.
All combat in Sea of Stars is entirely turn-based — so no ATB — and you'll eventually have a party of six playable characters. Each character has four spells or skills with different damage types, and these can be combined with other characters' own skills.
One unique element of Sea of Stars' combat is 'locks'. Some enemy skills will 'lock' when being used. You can break those locks by using the appropriate weakness, which is displayed on the lock. Breaking one lock will cause the move to be weakened, but breaking all of them will stagger the enemy.
The biggest SNES inspirations come from timed hits and dual attacks. You can make your attacks stronger by pressing the action button just in time with your character's attack. You can also do the same for defending too! Interestingly, Boulanger also suggests that timing button presses also help with healing items. If only that worked in real life.
Dual attacks are where the real Chrono Trigger vibes come in — dual techs, anyone? — but this time you need to build up combo points to use these skills rather than consume MP. Spend away, as combo points don't carry over between fights!
Characters can also boost their attacks by absorbing 'live mana', which allows them to do more damage or cast a spell when they don't have enough MP. Basically, this is a really intrinsic turn-based system that takes classic influences and puts a new spin on them. We're in love, and we can't wait to check it all out.
Boulanger ended the blog post with a little tease on more features coming to Sea of Stars, which include:
- Unshackled Traversal: Swim, climb, vault, jump off or hoist up ledges as you traverse seamlessly through the world with a navigation system based on platformer expertise that breaks free from the classic bound-to-the-grid tileset movement.
- Full-on dynamic lighting: Our custom-made render pipeline allows the creation of a breathtaking world coming to life by pushing the limits of 2D pixel-art games.
- Story-rich adventure: Dozens of original characters and story arcs will take you on a captivating journey. Sometimes epic, sometimes silly, and other times emotional, Sea of Stars does its RPG duty of exploring classic themes of adventure and friendship, while also being chock-full of the unexpected twists and events you’d expect from a Sabotage production.
- A world you can touch: There are many ways to hang out in the world of Sea of Stars if you feel the need for a change of pace in your adventures. Sailing, cooking, fishing, stopping by a tavern to listen to a song or play the infamous tabletop game known as “Wheels”…
It's all shaping up very nicely, then.
You can read the full blog post down below. Otherwise, make sure you check out the PS4 & PS5 announcement trailer below to get another taste of this tasty-looking JRPG tribute.
What do you think of the combat so far? Let us know how excited you are for Sea of Stars next year in the comments!