Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity is a game for PlayStation 2 published in North America by Atlus USA and in Europe by 505 Games. It is a Tactical RPG genre game with highly stylized artwork and animated cutscenes.
Stella Deus, marketed as a spiritual sequel to Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth,[ is a ]tactical role-playing game. The player is presented with a grid-based map, shaped to resemble a physical location and can deploy up to six characters with which to complete the map's objective. Characters and enemies must be moved to close physical proximity before they can attack each other, and maneuvering around or behind an enemy can decrease the likelihood of them dodging. Outside of battle, the player is given the option to manage and customize the characters' equipment, passive skills (like "move farther" or "dodge better"), active abilities ("barrage of sword slashes," "healing magic," "steal the target's purse") and even, to some extent, their statistics.
Stella Deus differs from traditional tactical RPGs by its use of the AP Gauge. Each character takes their turn when they have 100 Action Points in their AP Gauge, and depletes it by moving, attacking or using abilities. The amount of depletion depends on the "Cost" of the weapon, spell, or the character's "Move" stat. The latter is a complex equation factoring the weight of the character's equipment, their Strength statistic and their Evasion statistic. As an example, on one gauge and with a Move score of 20, Spero can run five squares forward, or run three squares forward and attack once, or run one square forward and attack twice, or stand still and attack three times. Any unused AP hastens the onset of the character's next turn. The AP Gauge and Move score also work together to limit each character's equipment: the game releases "new" equipment on a regular basis, which tends to weigh more and inflate the Move stat. The player must choose between mobile, lightly-armored characters and slow-but-well-defended ones. Then, as experience points and statistics accrue, increases in Strength and Evasion make the character able to shoulder more weight, allowing them to "grow into" the latest gear; then the game releases new equipment, and the process starts over again.
Stella Deus adds "Zone Effects" to its characters. Each character has a predetermined zone around them; they can exert influence on anyone within that radius. Each character has several Effects that can be applied to their Zone, which the player may choose from; a few examples of include Spero's "Allies Dodge Better," Gallant's "Allies Regain Magic Points," and Lumena's "Enemies' Move score goes up by 20." Zones also affect the "Team Attack" system. Any character may initiate or participate in a Team Attack, in which multiple characters all beat up on one enemy for extra damage; the only requirement is that the enemy target be within each participant's Effect Zone. As an added bonus, when certain characters participate in a Team Attack, they invoke a special character-based combination attack (for instance, Avis and Lumena use "Burning Hearts" if they are the only two participants in a Team Attack), which does more damage than a conventional Team Attack.
Stella Deus takes place in a world called Solum, which is slowly being swallowed by "Miasma," a mist-like substance that destroys all life it touches. Against this creeping apocalypse, several groups have developed responses. The Aeque Church, led by High Priestess Lumena, believes that the Miasma is God's will, sent to bring the world to an end, not with a bang, but a whimper. A warlord, Dignus, has taken to ravaging the countryside with his armies, imposing the law of the jungle: he who will not fight for his life does not to deserve to live. And finally, an alchemist named Viser is using Dignus's patronage to hunt the world's Spirits (polygonal creatures whose nature is unknown), draining their life-force to fuel his alchemic inventions, which he is sure will save the world. His friend and deputy, Spero, is the game's protagonist. Spero must make his way through this muddy political situation and see if he can save Solum.
Stella Deus has a total of 21 recruitable characters. Each has their own skill sets, armament and abilities, and can be sent through a "Rank Up" process to raise stats, change class (along a linear progression) and unlock new abilities.
- Spero: the main character; dual-wields katanas. Though his world-view is not especially complex, it is he who leads the quest to open the Gate of Eternity, as each of the other characters in the party is loyal primarily to him, and is generally busy keeping everyone motivated and calming hostilities.
- Linea: the other main character; a shaman who fights with a bow and offensive magic. The game's epilogue reveals a budding romance between her and Spero.
- Avis: prince and heir-apparent to the kingdom of Fortuna. Dignus destroyed Fortuna, and Avis has sworn revenge. Wields a longsword.
- Lumena: the High Priestess of the Aeque. Though pacifistic and highly spiritual, she is an implacable foe when roused, and has an array of healing magics and a staff.
- Grey: Grey's passive abilities allow him to walk farther in one turn than most other characters, and his spear allows him to strike two enemies at the same time. Grey is flippant and prone to speaking before he thinks, often leading to bickering with Adara.
- Adara: an alchemist who lost an arm in an experiment by the wicked alchemist Malkar; her mechanical replacement from Viser, an "argyrion", doubles as her battle weapon. She is one of only two magic-users with an emphasis on attack spells. Outside of battle, Adara is kind-hearted and upbeat, but ashamed of her prosthetic arm.
- Gallant: a taciturn man, Gallant is an axe-wielder. He is later revealed to be, like Linea, a member of the Anima people, though he does not share her affinity with Spirits.
- Prier: an eleven-year-old girl and Lumena's most faithful attendant, she is sent along with the party early in the game; though she insists on Aeque doctrine at first, Spero eventually teaches her not to passively wait for a peaceful end.
Spero's two best friends and companions in the hunt for Spirits are Adara, a woman who lost her arm and had it replaced by an alchemic limb, an "argyrion," and Grey, a free-wheeling jokester who rags on Adara constantly. Early in the game, they meet Linea, a member of the nearly-extinct Anima culture, and a shaman: she can talk to Spirits. She informs them that the constant death of Spirits is what is bringing on the Miasma, and that the only way to save Solum is to open the "Gate of Eternity," which will bring a fresh crop of Spirits in and push the Miasma back. Spero agrees to help her with her quest, which involves securing the aid of four elemental Summon Spirits before opening the actual Gate.
Their primary resistance comes from Lord Dignus and his lieutenants (including Viser), but allies also arrive in the form of Avis, the last heir of a kingdom Dignus destroyed, and Lumena's lover; he leads the official resistance against Dignus, along with Linea's Anima clan, and eventually brings Lumena's Meridies faction into the fold. However, the Nox faction of the Aeque becomes a major thorn in Spero's side, as its leader, Nebula, is dedicated to bringing about Solum's destruction by summoning God himself: Dies Irae, the God of Destruction. Spero must stop Nebula and Dignus both to cement the victory begun with the opening of the Gate.
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Stella Deus received moderately favorable reviews at the time of its release, with a 75/100 score from the aggregate review site Metacritic. Many reviewers praised the game's art direction and visual style, even as they lamented its poor voice acting. Frequent mention was made of the game's relatively low difficulty level, which was variously described as appealing to genre newcomers and alienating to hardcore fans.[ ]
fr:Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity ja:ステラデウス