Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, the fifth main instalment of the long-running sci-fi/anime jrpg series, will see release in the West this summer. The release window was announced in a Square Enix livestream, entitled Star Log #1, this week. It was also announced that the western release will include dual audio options, and, while the game will be available for both PS3 and PS4 in Japan, we’ll be getting the PS4 version only.
The stream marks the beginning of Square Enix’s western marketing for the game, and we’re promised more to come in the months leading up to release. In this first broadcast, we learned some details on the story, which takes place between Star Oceans 2 and 3, and also got a look into a couple of the main characters. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is set on the planet of Faykreed, some 6,000 lightyears from Earth, and our leading man, Fidel Camuze, is a swordsman from the village of Sthal. He’s joined by Miki Sauvester, his childhood friend and the party’s healer, who refers to Fidel as ‘Fiddly’. Which is a bit odd, quite frankly. Together, they set out to protect a young amnesiac girl called Relia, who is being targeted by the story’s antagonists for reasons as yet unknown.
Developed by series’ creators tri-Ace, Integrity and Faithlessness will be the first new entry in the franchise since Star Ocean: The Last Hope, which launched to somewhat muted reviews on Xbox 360 in 2009. Since tri-Ace’s acquisition in February last year by Nepro Japan, a mobile company, fans had thought the series effectively dead, at least on home console, and gave up hope of ever seeing another mainline Star Ocean game. Yet here we are, mere months away from a new instalment on PS4.
While the previous game drew some ire for attempting to appeal more directly to western gamers, producer Shuichi Kobayashi told VentureBeat that Star Ocean V will be more true to the series’ earlier entries: “[I]n Star Ocean IV, we did exactly that. We wanted to give the visual element which we believed would be appealing to western gamers, and it didn’t really work for either western or Japanese fans. It was a bit of a muddle, really. We don’t want to repeat that. We just want to establish our image and stick with it.” He added, “In Star Ocean V, we’d like to bring back the attitude we had in the first three games. Our priority is going to be to push out a very tri-Ace creative direction. That’s our main pillar and we’ll stick with it. Story-wise and visual-wise, number five is going to have the feel of a direct sequel to Star Oceans one, two, and three. It’ll be very different from Star Ocean IV.”
The development team hope that the focus on their core strengths will reassure fans that tri-Ace still cares very much for the Star Ocean franchise. And that reassurance couldn’t come at a better time. We’re seeing something of a resurgence of the jRPG after a bit of a fallow period last generation, where many questioned if the genre would even survive. Not only are franchises that we thought lost coming back, but we’re even getting sequels to last-gen titles that we never thought we’d see; who would have thought just a couple of years ago that we’d be waiting on a new Star Ocean, a new Valkyria Chronicles on home console, or a Platinum-developed sequel to NieR, of all things. And then there’s Ni No Two-ni (yeah, I’m going with that), and after something of a lost generation for Final Fantasy, it looks like the venerable franchise may well recapture the public’s imagination with Final Fantasy XV, which is looking very promising indeed. It’s a good time to be a fan of jRPGs.
The livestream promised that we would find out the full release date “very soon”, and also promised that the announcement would come with some “very good news” – perhaps news of a limited edition? The next Star Log, which will be focusing on the battle system, is scheduled for April 12th, so hopefully we’ll have more news in just a few weeks. Until then, you can watch the latest English trailer below.