I finished Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness today. Sadly, the game definitely did not live up to even my minimal expectations for SO, and while it did a few things well IMO, most of it just made me frustrated. And I need to complain, even if my screams only dissipate into the void that is the internet.
I actually liked the overall plot and cast of characters since they were basically an SO1 redux with a few changes, and more Star Trekish than a number of past installments, but dear god the lack of a proper budget is really obvious throughout. If the plot and setting had been developed more I think the story/cast/world-building could have been enough to make me enjoy the game more, but the lack of a budget clearly hurt this side of things. The recycling of SO3 and SO4 resources was really, really bad too, and the world was absurdly small--like, the Astral Continent in SO4 alone was bigger than the entire gameworld of SO5, and that's before you even look at the dungeons. Dungeons in SO5 are a joke--they're all short, more transparently linear than any entry before, and design-wise incredibly dull (likely due to the fact that almost every one was recycled from SO3 or SO4 resources to a large extent). Also, it took me ~37 hours to mostly clear out the main game, but well over half of that was spent doing fetch quests (not mandatory) and generally being forced to walk everywhere for 2/3 of the game to pad the mainline playtime, even when it made zero sense why I needed to traverse most of the gameworld on foot.
But the worst heresy that drops it to my least favorite SO (which I never thought I'd say after SO3) is the battle system. It just isn't good and isn't much fun to play overall--not only is the camera angle always way too close (to keep the player from seeing how small/empty the game world is, I imagine), but because of the way they programmed the "real-time" battling it's difficult to play as anyone other than Fidel. This is because Fidel is always your out-of-battle lead, but the moment he initiates combat, everyone else is inevitably close to/outside of the escape ring, effectively auto-escaping if you don't jump on the ball when control switches back to your character of choice. But more inexcusable than all of this is that the battles just feel slow. Even Victor, who's the Arumat stand-in and supposedly the fast fighter, mostly feels incredibly slow to play until you get a few of his most advanced techniques. This is a travesty for any SO game, doubly so for one that follows SO4, which had (IMO) the best system of the entire series. To top it off, there is a main-story boss battle that's horrifically glitched to be impossible sometimes, but you won't know it's glitched until you've fought it for awhile (in my case ~15 min) an the requisite cutscene doesn't activate to remove his invincibility, forcing you to reload. Nothing like this should happen in any game released for sale.
TL;DR--I never thought I'd like an SO game less than I liked SO3 (not a popular opinion, but I replayed it recently enough to know I liked it even less than I had remembered), but this game managed to do it. As it stands though, my SO rankings have a new bottom dweller: SO2>>>SO4>>>SO1>>>SO3>>>SO5
/endrant (for now)