Sabotage Studio, creators of The Messenger, confounded players when they announced that the studio?s second title would in fact NOT be a sequel to their very popular debut title. However fans of the long dormant Chrono Trigger would have their interest piqued. For you see Sabotage?s second title Sea of Stars certainly invoked the look and feel of Square?s timeless classic.
Last week media outlets were invited by Sabotage to get a glimpse of the progress that was being made on the title and we were one such outlet that took them up on their offer. Our guide for the preview was Thierry Boulanger, president & creative director of the studio. The slice we were about to see had the main characters Zale and Valere explore a temple to find an artifact to pay for the fare to board a pirate ship. Thierry described the game?s artstyle as what if 16bit aesthetics never gave way to polygon graphics, and he also showed off the game?s real time lighting. Zale and Valere are solstice warriors so part of their power set includes manipulating the day/night cycle and we saw Zale raise his hand then day turning to night. This power would eventually be used for puzzles and quests.
The duo and their non-solstice warrior companion Garl head out to the cave. Along the way they enter the overworld which looks like an extension of Chrono Trigger overworld. Thierry explains he was heavily influenced by Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG and boy does it show (Nevermind the fact that Yasunori Mitsuda, the composer of Chrono Trigger will be contributing 10 tracks to the game). The combat happens directly on the map, characters can time their attacks to dole out extra damage (A feature seemingly popularized by SMRPG), so players can take a slightly more active role in this turn-based rpg. Sea of Stars does feature a ?stagger? system, in which a set of icons hangs above enemies. If the players perform attacks that match the type depicted they can stagger enemies, preventing their attacks or outright kill enemies. If you don?t manage to make the right types of attacks, the enemy attack?s effectiveness is lessened based on how many icons were checked off.
The dungeons in the game are very layered and vertical. It felt like I was traversing an actual dungeon rather than slices of a 2D plane. Players can take a break from the action by finding campsites. Campsites can also act as a place where you can talk with your party and catch up on the plot as well as create recovery items. Unlike RPGs where recovery is handled by potions and tinctures, Sea of Stars opted for a meal based recovery. Unlike most demos which usually ends in a high tension event, this demo bucks the trend by showing off it?s fishing mini-game. Like combat, there is no transition to a different ui, the fishing happens in the map and for a lark you can even jump into the body of water to swim with said fish.
Thierry reiterated the world in Sea of Stars is the same world as The Messenger, just earlier in the timeline. For those that didn?t play or forgot about The Messenger, that game takes place on a singular island after an apocalypse, whereas Sea of Stars occurs in an archipelago. Could Sea of Stars show the cataclysm which shaped the world of The Messenger? I guess time will tell, and hopefully we?ll see more ties to the team?s first title. Sea of Stars is set to set sail on PC and Nintendo Switch, no release date has been set.
Editor’s Note: The author of this preview is also a Kickstarter backer of this game.