A closer look at the turn-based combat in Sea of Stars

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Sabotage was founded with a clear goal in mind; presenting our own “definitive editions” of the game genres we grew up playing. By combining retro aesthetics and modern design, we shoot for experiences that capture what we loved about games of old while leaving behind the elements we feel might hold them back today.

A closer look at the turn-based combat in Sea of Stars

For our very own turn-based RPG, we started with a few simple guidelines; there would be seamless transitions from navigation to combat, no random encounters, and no grinding. Combat is obviously a big one, so let’s dive a bit deeper.

Actual turn-based

In Sea of Stars combat is purely turn-based without any time bars, avoiding pressure in order to let the player make decisions at their own pace instead. Each of the six playable characters come with a small kit of four spells/skills with differing damage types and patterns, which can be combined with other characters’ moves.

MP has a very low cap but regenerates when using normal attacks, creating a flow where using magic in a regular fight is expected, while the big heavy hitter spells have to be paced with some normal attacks when fighting a boss.

No random encounters means every fight is designed manually to offer a unique pattern of enemies that can be analyzed and optimized by the savvy Solstice Warrior, and other combat features come together into a dance between utility and damage. 

Locks

Enemies that mount spells or special skills will display a bar with locks, each with an icon of a certain damage type. Breaking locks will weaken the upcoming move, while breaking all of them will cancel it altogether.

Each of the six playable characters can dish out damage efficiently in one or two of the types, further supported by their skill/spell kit which offers pattern variations (like AoE or multi-hit). 

Timed hits

In order to make turn-based combat more engaging, pressing the action button in sync with the animations increases damage output while reducing incoming damage.

The outcome of virtually every combat action can be influenced by pressing the button at the right time(s), whether it’s bouncing a lunar projectile back and forth, blocking enemy attacks or fetching a better snack out of a backpack. 

Combo moves

All combat actions build energy that eventually turn into combo points, which can be spent to perform dual attacks combining the patterns and damage types of both characters.

Combo points are the only cost (no MP) and they are lost when the battle ends, so there are no downsides to spending them! 

Boosting 

Normal attacks generate “live mana”, which can be absorbed by any playable character when they need an extra kick. Boosting can be stacked up to three times, each adding a portion of the character’s magic attack to their next action. It also comes in handy when a character’s unique magic damage type is needed but they are out of MP. 

Hotswap without friction 

While the battle party has a max of three characters on screen, you’ll be able to switch for any character from the back lane at will and at no cost, it doesn’t even spend a turn!

What else is Sea of Stars bringing to the table? 

While that’s all the time we had for today, we wanted to leave you with a short list of some other key systems and considerations relating to the game’s vision: 

  • Unshackled Traversal: Swim, climb, vault, jump off or hoist up ledges as you traverse seamlessly through the world with a navigation system based on platformer expertise that breaks free from the classic bound-to-the-grid tileset movement.
  • Full-on dynamic lighting: Our custom-made render pipeline allows the creation of a breathtaking world coming to life by pushing the limits of 2D pixel-art games. 
  • Story-rich adventure: Dozens of original characters and story arcs will take you on a captivating journey. Sometimes epic, sometimes silly, and other times emotional, Sea of Stars does its RPG duty of exploring classic themes of adventure and friendship, while also being chock-full of the unexpected twists and events you’d expect from a Sabotage production. 
  • A world you can touch: There are many ways to hang out in the world of Sea of Stars if you feel the need for a change of pace in your adventures. Sailing, cooking, fishing, stopping by a tavern to listen to a song or play the infamous tabletop game known as “Wheels”…

Sea of Stars will be available on PS4 and PS5 next year. Stay tuned!

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