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SaGa: Scarlet Grace

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#1 uiruki

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 11:12 PM

It's funny, there are a bunch of other games I've gotten further in that I could be writing about but this one is just so... odd.

 

Now, as a preface, I've never played the SaGa games. I enjoyed the Legend of Legacy demo but not enough to play through a game on the 3DS. Going in, I have come to understand that with the SaGa games, they are trying to make something more like a tabletop roleplaying game, but still computerised. Having gotten through an hour and a half or so of this, I can see how that's coming together.

 

Firstly, you pick your hero. Actually, you answer a bunch of questions and are presented a hero, a suggestion which you can then ignore and choose one of the others. There are four; I picked Taria the ambitious potter who one day finds that her stuff's all coming out crooked so it's time for a long trip. By the way there's a phoenix outside????

 

You walk around the world map, and there are certain areas you can go to trigger events. A town usually has an event and always seems to have a blacksmith.

 

A fight soon ensues, after recruiting a band of hunters. A battle party is five characters; action is determined by a timeline which you can read beforehand and then assign people to do attacks, which cost stars. You start with a fixed number based on your formation (the default has 4) and then get one extra per turn. I love the battle system so far. It's got a really fun, tactical, puzzly feel to it as you try and knock enemies around the timeline and defeat them at the right moment to cause a chain attack. There was a lot of consternation at the loading times within battles, but actually I haven't felt any stress from it so far. Basically, you choose your team's attacks, it loads for between 5 and 10 seconds, and then it plays out the sequence in a series of snappy but impactful animations. It's very clear, easy to read and importantly when you get things right it is just flashy enough.

 

Behind all this is a wonderful soundtrack. The game is low budget but that didn't stop Kenji Ito from getting a lot of live instruments in and it sounds fantastic. No voices, but the writing in the text is sharp enough to keep things going so far. That extends to the tips screens too: instead of tutorialising, the game simply flashes up "new tip" when something new happens and you can trot off to the menus later to check it if it didn't make sense (it turns out poison does damage over multiple turns!)

 

So far, it really feels like they've taken a big RPG and instead of spending lots of money on all the bits inbetween, they got a few kids, a Unity licence and let the old guys just write and write and write. From what I understand the four characters have extremely different routes through the story and even in the first hour I've seen points where I can diverge; I accidentally opened a sluice gate and got an important looking monster killed. If only I could understand what it was saying - I bet there's someone out there who knows. With 70+ recruitable NPCs I wouldn't be surprised if I could bring someone back later, or maybe another of the playable characters will know, changing the dynamic of that area.

 

It remains to be seen whether I'll continue all the way through as annoyingly it has no Vita TV support. But as a game for a commute it seems ideal - the combination of the accelerated game pace, the large numbers of events and the heavily tactical battle system make it ideal for times when you can give all your attention to your handheld without distraction. Headphones help but watch out if you're listening over Bluetooth - you can't even open the settings menu while it's running because of RAM usage so make sure you save!



#2 uiruki

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 11:13 AM

Still playing this, still fascinated. It's a lot more free form than I'm used to but in that sense it's a lot of fun going to a new area, touring the towns and working out what's going on. Each area has its own story which you can play through in your own way and I'm really enjoying that part as well as the battles.

#3 uiruki

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 11:10 AM

Got back into this now I'm travelling again. I really wish this had Vita TV support. Hopefully it'll be ported somewhere I can both take it out and play at home!

I'm really enjoying the little stories in each area. Most of the JRPGs I have enjoyed have little stories going on at each town but they've expanded that to whole states in this game, thanks to the way they've reset the scale of the game. In the area I'm in I am visiting towns to hear rumours which then appear on the map; earlier I helped a local queen fend off some bandits and earlier still I was cursed by a spirit who forbade me from changing my mind on anything (on pain of losing 1 LP permanently, not the kind of thing you want to mess around with).

In terms of battles, as characters join, rank up and learn new skills I feel like I've got a lot of tools to deal with the interrupts and counters the enemy lines up. It really feels tactical in a way not many turn based systems have been, with the bonus that one of my characters has the fantastic name TIAGO LISBOA. He can hit everyone in one go and has levelled up that skill so it's a great opening gambit.

#4 E. Randy Dupre

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 08:53 PM

I really, really hope this gets a European release. I've been fascinated by the concepts behind the SaGa games for years. Own them all, but have only got around to playing the original and Legend of Legacy - the mix of Western and JRPG styles is both unique and also properly weird, which is a big part of the appeal, but the learning curve is intimidating (I remember booting up SaGa Frontier once after work, intending to get into it, and finding that it required far more concentration and intelligence than I had to offer after a tiring day of bullshit, so put it back in its box).



#5 uiruki

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Posted 08 February 2017 - 11:06 PM

I hope it gets a Switch (or PS4 with network saving) release to be honest - with less loading and, more importantly, the ability to play on a big screen I think it'll come into its own. The battle system really is fantastic and the soundtrack really deserves blasting at high volume.



#6 uiruki

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 02:08 PM

Man, really hope they announce a Switch port for this. Ended up dropping it because of the game speed; I think someone ended up estimating that even if you took your time, 30-40% of your game time ends up being loading.

Also Tiago Lisboa needs to be freed from the shackles of a single region release!





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