Sea of Stars Review – An Easy Sail

sea of stars review

From the developer of 2018’s Metroidvania The Messenger, we have Sabotage Studio’s latest game, Sea of Stars, a nostalgia-inducing traditional RPG with a few modern flourishes for those that want them. Could this be just the game to finish off your summer with? Read our Sea of Stars review to find out.

Gorgeous Pixels

Sea of Stars is strictly a single-player, offline adventure, with a self-contained story. While it’s technically a prequel to The Messenger, it takes place thousands of years prior to that game, and any references to it within Sea of Stars are slight, intended to give slight nods to those in the know. It’s a game to play when you want to disconnect from the world, and simply play a game that has been lovingly crafted by people who obviously love these kinds of games. The soundtrack scored by Eric Brown, which includes tracks from Yasunori Mitsuda (of Chrono Cross/Trigger fame, among other great titles), would fit right in any other game from the era Sea of Stars was inspired by. It’s also gorgeous, with pixel-perfect artwork and even a dynamic lighting engine that ensures this is one of the best 2D games you’ll ever see.

Sea of Stars is a turn-based RPG, with pretty standard mechanics. Enemies have a turn indicator letting you strategize with who to hit next, and meanwhile you can choose any character who hasn’t performed an action this round to perform an attack, use a skill or item, or team up and perform a combo with another character, provided enough combo energy has been generated by performing other actions.

Jump, Swim, Push, Fight

Diving a little deeper into Sea of Stars, you’ll quickly realize a few things are different here. For starters, your character can traverse the world in numerous ways not typically seen in this genre. Pressing the action button near a ledge can let you jump down or climb up. There’s even swimming at certain parts. Battles also take place in-world (as opposed to temporarily transporting everyone involved in the fight to a slightly different-looking location), and there are no random encounters. While this gets rid of grinding, developer Sabotage Studio has promised that the game has been balanced to ensure you have a good chance of winning most battles without too much trouble, without worrying so much about your level.

One unique feature that Sea of Stars has is the inclusion of rhythm as a way to enhance combat. By simply pressing the action button (A on most controllers if you’re playing that way) when an attack connects, players can deal more damage to an enemy, or negate some damage if they are being attacked. This works for basically every type of move, with only the timing of your press determining whether or not you’ll receive a bonus. There is an item you can pick up to turn on a modifier which makes it much more obvious if you’re timing was right, by firing off a star when the move is performed on time. While the timing required on this bonus move gives you a very small window of opportunity with which to press the action button, as the game tells you it’s not necessary to progress in the game, and it isn’t the end of the world if you can’t time it right. It does kind of feel like some animations were purposely spread out in order to mess with the player’s timing the first time they encounter it, but it is satisfying to get the timing right and see your attacks work a little better.

Powered-up Combat, and Side Activities Between Fights

Another neat option for players is powering up attacks. Every time a regular attack is performed by a player character, some energy spills out onto the battlefield. Prior to performing any attack, you can hold the power-up button and press action to pick up a packet of that energy, which will power up your next attack by one level. This can be done up to three times, if there is enough spilled energy. Combining this with skills or combos results in some powerful moves at the player’s choice.

Sea of Stars may have the look and feel of much older games, but it also seems to deal with the reality that many people may not want to spend all their spare time with a game. So, some items that can be acquired at certain spots in Sea of Stars make things easier. As mentioned, there is a relic which, when equipped, gives you more obvious feedback when you successfully perform a timing-based boost, while other Relics perform some actions automatically, usually by applying a nerf to some other stat. Blue relics help make the game easier, while red ones make things more challenging in some way. These items are great inclusions to help those of us who would like to have an easier go of it, punish those of us who want a more demanding game, and are completely optional for the purists out there.

Outside of the main story, there are some side activities in Sea of Stars which will no doubt attract those who like to beat 100% of their games. Camp can be set up at certain spots in the adventure, as well as manually at any point if you’re in the overworld view. Here, the characters in your party gather around a campfire, and you can talk to them a couple of times as they react to events that have just taken place in the story. You can also cook various dishes, using resources collected around the world and dropped by enemies. At the campfire, you can also designate either of the main characters to play as, which doesn’t have much effect on the game other than perhaps a few lines of dialogue. Some areas have lakes, which include fish that can be caught and optionally filleted for resources. There is also a whole dedicated mini-game called Wheels, which involves figurines slotted onto a machine, and the mechanics of which would probably take a whole other review to explain. It’s turn-based as well, and rewarding to figure out on its own.

A Lot of Game for the Money

Games from the ‘90s were usually pretty lengthy, and Sea of Stars continues in this tradition. With an estimated playthrough time of somewhere around 30 hours for most players, for about half the cost of most games at $34.99 on Steam, there is a lot of entertainment for your money on offer here. The story has emotional moments, as well, and plenty of lore to take in. There’s even a few moments where the narrative breaks the fourth wall, and commentary about the gaming industry can be found.

If any fault can be found in Sea of Stars, it is that some enemies can and will cheese you until you’re sick of them. For instance, they’ll use abilities that spawn one, two, or even three other enemies, and sometimes you might get stuck in a loop where you’ve killed one enemy, only for two more to pop up in its place thanks to the summon capability of another. Patience, and perhaps a well-timed boost to your attacks, will usually prevail at times like these, even if it means a battle that should’ve taken just a few minutes winds up taking a dozen or more.


Sea of Stars will take any seasoned gamer back to a simpler times, when the games were colorful, flat, and lengthy. If you want a turn-based RPG that is easy to pick up and yet quite challenging, then you’ll want to check out Sea of Stars. Some of the enemies can occasionally cheese you to death, but it’s nothing that can’t be overcome. The added accessibility options are appreciated, and the imaginative story is entertaining. If you ever want to just chill with a simple game after a long day, Sea of Stars would be a good choice.

Score: 9/10


  • Pixel-perfect artwork
  • Timing-based addition to combat is useful
  • Entertaining, lengthy campaign
  • Relics can add accessibility or challenge


  • Enemies can sometimes cheese things up

Sea of Stars review code was provided by the publisher. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.

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