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Despite PlayStation Plus and Game Pass, retro-inspired throwback Sea of Stars is already a huge sales success

100,000 units on day one? That's some pipe dream target stuff right there, even though Sea of Stars was Day One for Xbox Game Pass and PS Plus.

Split image with Xbox Game Pass marketing materials, Sea of Stars key art, and the PS Plus logo
Image credit: VG247

Have you heard about Sea of Stars? The gorgeous little indie game – a knowing throwback of an RPG, peppered with all the modern quality of life updates you'd expect from a 2023 release – has been slowly broiling over in certain parts of the internet for a while.

Congrats, Studio Sabotage. | Image credit: Studio Sabotage

The game, developed by Studio Sabotage, acts as a prequel to another Xbox Game Pass hit, The Messenger. As the studio's previous title was a love letter hardcore 2D platforming titles, Sea of Stars is a wistful homage to old-school RPGs – think Super Mario RPG, Illusion of Gaia, Breath of Fire, Chrono Trigger. In the game, you play as a pair of heroes (Valere and Zale) who harness the imbibe of the sun and the moon, respectively.

It's what you'd expect from a game that takes all its cues from the golden era of pixel RPGs, and its day one sales demonstrate there is still a voracious hunger for this kind of game on the modern market. "We’re speechless. Thank you," says a tweet from the studio yesterday, as it announced a whopping 100,000 sales... in just one day.

For an indie game, that'd be impressive anyway. But Sea of Stars has a little extra something going on that makes that number even more notable; the game launched onto Xbox Game Pass and PS Plus Extra, meaning that – despite these frankly ludicrous sales numbers – there are still thousands and thousands of other players enjoying the peculiar world of Sea of Stars that haven't paid for it.

Look at this and tell me you didn't get a blade of nostalgia to the heart.

To ship this much, in one day, whilst offering your product effectively for free on various subscription services... that's a success story unlike many others. And it's well deserved, too: I've only played a little of the game so far (have you seen the release slate coming up? Whew!) and I'm absolutely in love. It's the sort of game you think about whilst you're playing other titles – it's got the soundtrack, the combat rhythm, and the sense of place that all your favourite 'boomer' RPGs had.

Sea of Stars, and its rampant success, really does galvanise something I heard VG247 associate editor Alex Donaldson say recently: we're in a golden age for RPGs. No matter what your flavour – action-RPG, pixel classic, experimental, remake, remaster – there's something for you right now.

If you've got active PS Plus Extra or Game Pass subscriptions, I cannot insist strongly enough that you play Sea of Stars; it might just make you remember why you love video games so much, all over again.

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