The Messenger Developer Announces Turn-Based RPG Sea of Stars

Sabotage Studio, the folks that brought The Messenger to life a couple years ago, are back again with a new prequel story set in the same universe: Sea of Stars. If you're looking for another platformer out of the developer, however, you'll have to wait, because the new video game is actually a turn-based role-playing game in the vein of Chrono Trigger or Golden Sun -- and it looks stunning, in all its 2D pixel art glory.

The game, which is now raising funds on Kickstarter, has been in the works for a couple years now, and is currently set to release for both PC and consoles in 2022. As with The Messenger, Sabotage has set out to provide a "definitive" take on the genre by paying homage to what came before while removing obstacles to enjoyment. Basically, if it was frustrating, Sabotage wanted to eliminate it.

"The thought process has been going on forever, of making an RPG," Sabotage CEO and Creative Director Thierry Boulanger says. "Really, the first day of hands-on work on it was in October 2018. We had a summit, if you will, we retreated in a cabin for a couple days and the project was pitched to the whole team. It was two months after the original launch of The Messenger, and so it was like, 'Hey guys, here is the next thing we might want to build together, what are your thoughts and everything?' It was kind of like brainstorming -- what are your irritants in RPGs? -- kind of listing out all the things we'd like to address to make our own definitive edition on this next genre for us."

You can check out the key art for Sea of Stars, as well as some screenshots of the game in action, below:

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(Photo: Sabotage Studio)
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(Photo: Sabotage Studio)
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(Photo: Sabotage Studio)

In the brief demo we were shown, two characters -- Valere and Zale -- traversed a gorgeous island, climbing cliffs and swimming through water, while taking on critters that wandered the map in turn-based combat with a twist: player inputs. One skill, for example, required mashing a button to power up a powerful blast while another had timed inputs to get a magical ability bouncing between the enemy and player's character. Ultimately, players can get up to six party members, according to Sabotage, with the ability to swap them out at will. But the big thing is the lighting, which is totally dynamic, and a major plot point that players can eventually control at will in some areas.

As for why the company is moving from a platformer to a turn-based RPG, Boulanger says it was always the goal, actually, to do an RPG. "The RPG was the one we were most excited about, even before the company was founded," he says, "but it just happened to be too ambitious to be bootstrapping a company and just have a couple people working -- it seemed like it would hard to gain any traction, and also, being completely unknown on the market and just coming out with like, 'Hey, can you trust us with all these big systems and longer-haul storytelling and whatnot?'"

In short, while The Messenger was by no means only "a stepping stone," and the company is "over the moon" with the game's reception, according to Boulanger, "it was kind of like the one we could approach the most easily, and we felt it was probably easier to digest as a first proposition to the public. We're just jumping off of that and into the next thing that was always going to be the next thing for us."

Here's how Sabotage Studio officially describes Sea of Stars:

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"A prequel story set in The Messenger’s universe, it tells the story of two Children of the Solstice who will combine the powers of the sun and moon to perform Eclipse Magic, the only force capable of fending off the monstrous creations of the evil alchemist known as The Fleshmancer. Promising the Sabotage touch in every system, Sea of Stars aims to modernize the classic RPG in terms of turn-based combat, storytelling, exploration and interactions with the environment, while still offering a hearty slice of nostalgia and good old, simple fun."

Sea of Stars is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. The turn-based RPG is expected to release in 2022 for PC and consoles, though no specific platforms on the latter have been announced at this time.

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