Review – SaGa Frontier Remastered
SaGa Frontier is a series that isn’t completely alien to me. I owned SaGa Frontier 2 back on the Original PlayStation and I loved its watercolour style graphics although getting to grips with the gameplay was something that I found difficult at the time, I also remember the game constantly switching stories and thus I did not get very far. Twenty-something odd years later and I find there is a remaster coming which is a remaster of the first SaGa Frontier.
After playing the newly released Romancing SaGa in more recent years, also I have had my share of experience with the SaGa series overall. Being a series that emphasises non-linear gameplay, SaGa Frontier is no different, you are able to choose from one of seven unique stories; eight if you include the new character Fuse that can be played once certain conditions have been met.
So when you choose one of the protagonists to begin with you are then transported to their story arc and while your characters may end up entwined with each other, to get the overall story played out in full and to be understood you need to play out all the characters personal stories. While that all sounds very good, the main issue that arose for me is the same one that I have experienced previously, the dialogue can be a bit poorly put across and then I found myself in control of my character when I expected the characters dialogue to continue.
Gameplay consists of traversing maps and having a lot more freedom in doing so, maps have several exits where you can find yourself going in one big circle or finding secrets, there is no right or wrong answer on where to explore when you compare it to games such as Final Fantasy it makes a welcome change to what you may already be familiar with. While character sprites look generally normal and something I would expect for a remaster I found some of the backgrounds and enemies that reside in them rather odd-looking, I found myself fighting a Dragon which looked like it had been hand-drawn, it’s not to say every enemy looks like it, I just found it an odd texture choice when you compare it with the game’s graphics. I’ve also come across enemies that almost blend into the background or have a slimy like appearance, the enemy sprites in the game don’t seem to follow the same formula in design as the characters. The graphics aren’t bad, sure they don’t hold well compared to today’s standards but when compared to a game that came out pre-millennium, it all looks very nice even if it is hard to tell where to go sometime
Battles aren’t completely random as enemies do appear on each map and running into one will trigger a battle so, in theory, it is possible to avoid them but it isn’t always so easy. In some cases, maps are so small and tight and full of so many enemies in such a short space you can’t help but have to just fight through each fight, while grinding is never a bad thing especially in this game it can be an annoyance especially when you’re just trying to backtrack from A to B through an area you have seen many times before.
Battles are simple and require you to use commands based on your character, using your regular sword to attack for example has a chance of unlocking a new skill. Using this skill at the same time after selecting another character skill also has a chance of creating a special new combo move which can be extremely powerful, this system can help you decide on what to use and allow you to experiment with different move sets. You are limited to the number of move sets that you can use, so if you wish to learn something new then you must bid farewell to one of your existing ones. Battles won’t be easy either, even if at first, they do seem it. The game falsely puts into perspective that enemies can be defeated with one-shot attacks and HP restoration after every battle, but this will only get you so far, if you go in unprepared in certain battles then some enemies will take you out pretty quickly. WP is the measure of your skills points for the more powerful skills and along with LP are the only attribute not to be restored after each battle. LP is a reoccurring attribute in the SaGa series that depletes every time you die, and in some SaGa games, it was more unforgiving by never being restored even at Inns and also can permanently remove a character from the game. However here it is less a worry as it can be restored at Inns and you won’t lose your character should your LP be diminished completely. As there is no level system in this game you are required to raise your attributes through grinding battles. Your HP and other attributes have a chance of increasing through battles. The game does come with some Quality of Life features such as a fast forward button and an integrated Journal in the menu to help make sense of the story.
Even though I will say this game is more forgiving than the Romancing Saga games it is still something your average Final Fantasy Joe’s will care less for, it isn’t for everyone. I would advise giving the game a chance though if you enjoy exploration and enjoyment of battles that are constantly changing.
A PlayStation 4 Review code was provided by Square Enix