With a console that has as many RPG’s that the Playstation 2 has, it can be extremely hard to figure out which RPG is the one for you. Well one of the latest RPG’s to make it to the console is Romancing SaGa from the very popular developer Square Enix, which tries to take some of the classic RPG elements and combine them with some new ideas to make for a great experience. So does this formula add up to one of the better RPG’s on the market this year? Read our full review to find out!
What is funny about Romancing SaGa is that it actually is a remake; yes a remake of a game that was released in Japan for the Super Nintendo. So if you’re like me, this is actually news to your ears because this is something I actually learned right before I wrote this review. With that not being a huge factor, the game’s real feature of fame would be that you have eight playable characters all through the entire adventure. Being that the story is a very vital part of the game, I will not spoil it for you. Suffice to say that for an RPG, the story needed a lot more to it. The story behind Romancing SaGa was nothing that made you want to keep coming back for more.
Without a truly interesting storyline, a game like Romancing SaGa really needed the gameplay to pick up its loose ends and help to tie everything together. Unfortunately I can’t say the developers managed to do this either. For the most part, Romancing SaGa is a game that goes along with the typical turn based RPG that have been set for years now. You start off in this game by choosing one of the eight playable characters, which in a sense will just change the order in which you play through the game. What is really weird about Romancing SaGa is that it really doesn’t give you much in terms of direction. I honestly started out in this game completely confused and oblivious to what the goal I was trying to complete first.
And this is really a constant problem in Romancing SaGa, and it leaves you to your won devices by not including a map. So the majority of your time in this game will literally be wandering around trying to figure out what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Of course the whole idea behind this game is to continue to level up your characters, and basically this means going through a ton of side quests. One of the big issues about these side quests are that the developers never used their imaginations. The side quests are rather bland and they just start piling up after a while, with really very little enjoyment to speak of.
The only real positive thing to speak of with this game is the combat system, which is one of the better turn based combat systems that I have had the chance to play this year. The game gives you plenty of different strategies to take into account, as the system is very complex and does take sometime to get used to. Without getting into all of the nitty gritty details, the combat system is delightfully deep and solid, but is not without problems. The battles take quite some time and while this can be normal in other RPG’s, Romancing SaGa stacks up easy enemies with hard enemies all over the map, which does hurt the pacing a bit.
The idea behind Romancing SaGa is a great one, having eight different characters and a huge world to explore. But the game lacks direction and focus, and that really hurt the game in the long run. It is hard to explain the wandering you will do, especially in the beginning just trying to figure out what to do next. Square Enix usually is known for having very coherent games, but Romancing SaGa just doesn’t manage to put all of the pieces together.
I can’t say that Square Enix is becoming predictable with their visuals, but Romancing SaGa looks precisely how I thought it would when I visualized the game in my mind. One of the problems I did have though was with the lack of variety in the environments, as the game feels like it takes place in the same location from start to finish.
Square Enix also didn’t bring in as much detail as they had in past RPG’s, and this is sort of a disappointment as well. Romancing SaGa has very unique anime style character designs, but to be honest they just look nowhere near as good as they could. Romancing SaGa is a decent looking game that has some good qualities, but in the end it doesn’t do enough to really keep you entertained for all that long.
Plain and simple, Romancing SaGa is not all that entertaining. This is one of those games that are still searching for itself, it doesn’t know what it wants to be throughout and never gave you a clear purpose of why you should even stick with the adventure. On paper this game had a lot of potential, with eight playable characters and a slew of different combat options. But in the end Romancing SaGa just never was all that interesting and never did it make me want to come back and play more. Had the story been better and there been more direction of what to do, this game might have been a much better experience.
I have to say I was honestly shocked at how poorly this game ended up. Like I mentioned at the top of this review, Square is known for making great RPG’s that is really their best genre. But in the end this is one RPG that I think they will look back on and see things that they will never want to do again in a video game. Unless you are a huge SaGa fan or have to have every Square RPG that comes out, you are probably better off passing on this one.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.