The latest from Sabotage, the creators of 2018’s The Messenger, is a fantastic throwback that takes lessons from the best 16-bit RPGs of the past while ignoring all the annoying elements that makes some of those games hard to go back to. You can absolutely dive in blind, but I highly recommend reading this update on the game’s Kickstarter page. Titled Prologue – The Two Alchemists, it basically lays the groundwork for the universe Sea of Stars takes place in and establishes two important characters I was grateful to have known more about when I started the game.
Know The Prologue
To quickly summarize, Aephorul and Resh’an are alchemists who figured out the secret to immortal life, but it turns out being immortal is kind of terrible and the two came to this realization in opposing ways. Aephorul turned evil and gleefully spreads chaos across the world with monsters (known as Dwellers) and became known as The Fleshmancer. Resh’an embraced good and tries to make life better for the mortals by combating Aephorul’s shenanigans. Resh’an primarily does this with the aid of Solstice Warriors (which is what you play as in Sea of Stars), which use the power of the sun and moon to fight Aephorul’s Dwellers. Left unchecked the Dwellers will turn into World Eaters, which is a bad thing.
So, to summarize, Aephorul, A.KA. The Fleshmancer is evil. He creates monsters called Dwellers. Solstice Warriors fight the Dwellers so they don’t turn into World Eaters. Resh’an is the good guy. There is plenty more to the story, but those are the elements and characters that are helpful to know before you press start.
It’s also fun to note that Sea of Stars takes place in the same universe as, but many years prior to the events of The Messenger. There is no need to play The Messenger ahead of Sea of Stars, but if you do, there are some fun references worth keeping an eye out for.
Destroy The Locks
This is tutorialized in the game, but it never hurts to give it a little extra emphasis. The symbols that appear over the enemies heads are the attacks you should use against the enemies. For example, the enemies above will be doing an extra strong attack in two turns, so the best approach is to prevent at least one of them from executing that attack in the turns provided. The weird fish enemy, on the left? You should hit him with a sword attack twice (which is Zale A.K.A blondie’s attack if you get the timed button-press timing right) for one turn. For the next turn, you should use a sword attack augmented with a sun attack. That will break the moster’s locks, and prevent them from being able to take their turn. I like this system, because it forces you to mix things up and use all of your team’s special abilities to great reward.
Swap Characters With Reckless Abandon
Often in RPGs featuring swappable party members, you find some favorites and stick with them. In the games where you can switch characters in the middle of a fight, it usually costs a turn. In other games, you can only switch out party members between fights. In Sea of Stars, you can switch party members any time at no penalty. Experience is all shared in one big pool by everyone, so there is no need to worry about making sure any one character spends time on the battlefield more than another.
Ingredients are plentiful, are used to craft HP and MP-restoring dishes, and regrow as you revisit old locations. They are used for cooking, but can also be sold to any merchant. You can only have 10 dishes on you at any time, so I ended up with a lot of leftover ingredients. It’s always a good idea to hang on to a few of every ingredient you find, but don’t hesitate to sell 25 berries to put you over the edge to grab that staff that is just outside your price range.
You Can Climb More Than You Realize
If a chest looks just out of your reach, don’t hesitate to sidle up to various walls and edges and tap A/X/B. Protagonists Valere and Zale are surprisingly proficient climbers and can often reach higher than you expect. The port town of Brisk is especially ripe for locations you might not think you can reach until you give it a shot.
Bring On The Falcon-eyed Parrot
Sea of Stars offers Relics which can be used to augment your playstyle. You can purchase and turn certain ones on to make the game easier, but not all of them are directly related to difficulty. Salient sails, for example, makes your boat move faster, which is just convenient. One of my most used Relics, especially in the late game, is the Falcon-eyed Parrot. With that relic, a parrot will tell you if you’ve gotten everything on every island on the map. The parrot is particularly helpful for the next tip.
Get All The Rainbow Conch Shells
Early in the game, you will begin finding chests containing Rainbow Conch Shells. Close to the halfway point, you will meet someone who collects them. I highly recommend going out of your way to grab all of these. There are numerous worthwhile rewards available for finding them all, and I was grateful to have made the effort.
And on that completionist note, make sure to talk to your party members when you are camping. This is where you will find clues about various sidequests, which, much like collecting the Rainbow Conch Shells, is worth pursuing.
For more on the game, check out Game Informer’s Sea of Stars review.