In practical terms without flaws, and filled with thoughtful and creative touches from top to bottom, this game truly is a star
There’s no doubt that when you’re creating a follow-up to one of the top indie games out there (in this case, The Messenger), and especially when you’re shifting genres, the pressure is on. Sure, early looks at Sea of Stars made it easy to see the game’s outstanding SNES+ era pixel art style, but so often in this industry the true test is the play experience. The fabulous news is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Sea of Stars in no way disappoints, and if anything is an even more incredible accomplishment than its predecessor by hitting pretty well every note as best as you could hope and then delivering just a bit more. Whether listening to the vibrant soundtrack, sitting in awe of the quasi-3D levels (mind you, with 2D pixel art) that are detailed and generally impeccably designed, or simply enjoying the vibe of the characters and entire essence of the game, Sabotage Studios crushes it out of the park with this game. While turn-based combat can often feel stale, even with action elements peppered into the mix, here there are additional layers to consider with opportunities to prevent enemies from attacking by hitting them with the right combination of attacks, charged moves which add even more strategy, and combos that can turn the tide in tough battles. In general your party is charming, in particular your normie warrior chef Garl, who is a consistently positive voice to keep everyone from getting down. Throw in some meta humor at times about common genre tropes and patterns and you can feel that this game is a labor of love from people who are genre fans themselves. Top it all off with many thoughtful ways to tweak the difficulty to the point where anyone should be able to enjoy this adventure and it’s chock full of greatness. While there’s still plenty of time left to go in the year I can’t see how this wouldn’t be in the running for anyone as the best indie game of the year, it is outstanding.
Justin Nation, Score: