SaGa Frontier Remastered - Review
Square Enix continues its nostalgia crusade, reviving increasingly niche series. This time we are honored with a remaster of SaGa Frontier - the first part of the Frontier dilogy with the original PlayStation.
Games of this franchise continue to be released, and the father of the series Akitoshi Kawazu is still an employee of the company, which in itself is a phenomenon, considering how many old series have sunk into oblivion or simply forgotten, and the developers have retired.
From the very beginning, SaGa Frontier Remastered does not stand on ceremony with the player and takes him into its cold embrace. In a good way, but know right away that you will have to get used to the local tough, by today's standards, rules, there is plenty of challenge here.
The game is riddled with original ideas, but let's go through each aspect in order. When you start, you will be greeted by the title screen, where you will need to choose one of the seven protagonists. The eighth, a secret character, will open after passing any of the presented heroes.
Each character has a unique story, gameplay, and election implications. According to the idea, the project is most similar to Octopath Traveler and Trials of Mana – with some differences.
Accordingly, each branch of the story narrative contains a set of scenarios that you go through the selected character in a certain order, based on what decisions you make in the course of their passage. This applies to literally all actions – which parts of the locations and in what order you visit, which NPCs you communicate with, and which answer options you choose if necessary. Further – more.
Under the condition " fulfill the ultimate goal of the scenario”, you are free to explore the presented locations as you like. Even within a tight framework, the authors were able to convey the spirit of adventure and discovery – turning in the other direction, you can stumble, for example,on an ancient tomb with cool artifacts and an optional boss. And if you talk to an extravagant-looking girl, it turns out that you have common goals, and you will receive a replenishment in the party. The whole game is built in this way, so you should be as attentive and inquisitive as possible, since the locations themselves are quite compact – you will not get lost, but at the same time there is a place to turn around.
As you may have guessed, the story lines of the characters repeatedly intersect and find a point of contact in the story of Detective Fuse, who is able to recruit all the characters into the party, provided that the necessary requirements are met. In turn, the endings also depend on what and how exactly you performed. This information is directly or indirectly mentioned not only in the dialogs, but also in the progress log in the game menu.
Of course, you will have to get to something yourself, but the game will hint at this. For example, save or not someone, get or develop the necessary skills, and much more.
Thus, a system called “free scripts”is implemented. In some ways, though with the limitations provided, you are the director of the fates of your wards. This is one of the most non-linear JRPGs in the history of the genre.
In SaGa Frontier, a whole medley of settings. Of course, given the presence of spaceships, robots, blasters, aliens, advanced technologies and other things, science fiction is at the forefront. But in addition, there are features of the modern world, Gothic fairy tales, mysticism and fantasy. It's amazing how such an eclectic cocktail goes well with the game. This is expressed both in the gameplay elements, such as the presence of laser guns and magic in the neighborhood of katanas and martial arts, and in the regions of the world. Breathe in the fresh breeze in the picturesque island town of Oumi, and then make your way through the smoke of the Landfill, making a stop in the ghostly Japanese castle of Wakatu in search of the secret seal. You never know where bad luck will take you, but that's the whole point.
The brave assistant mechanic of the ship Red lives a double life. Behind the facade of an ordinary hard worker hides a vengeful superhero Alkaiser. Since he needs to keep his identity secret, reincarnation is only available when the party members are blinded, dead, or are robots. In this form, he gains significantly enhanced stats and new skills, including heroic techniques available only to Red.
As a human, he can equip all types of armor, weapons, accessories, as well as eight combat skills. You are free to put in the empty slots any learned skills that are differentiated into physical and magical. For the establishment of skills of the same type, you get a discount to the cost of using them in battle. It is measured in weapon points. There are also life points – not to be confused with the classic health points. If the health is reduced to zero, the character falls unconscious, and it is possible to return to the system if you use any healing object or spell-there are no resurrecting things. So if the life points run out, the hero will not be able to take part in the battles until he restores them outside of the battle or with a special item. It is important to send the characters to the bench in time for an additional party, the number of which, as well as the active one – is up to 5 participants.
To perform advanced techniques, you need to learn them through a special mechanic – "Flicker". It is important to remember that you can learn a new technique only if you have at least one free slot in the list of skills. The discovery of certain skills is arbitrary. The exception is the spells that you need to buy in the shops of the settlements and which can be equipped only if the hero has a special gift for the use of a particular school of magic. Some of the talents are innate, and some you will acquire in the course of passing.
Combo attacks resemble the combined attacks of the heroes from the Persona series, but are one of the most important mechanics here. Combos are the cornerstone in defeating bosses. They significantly increase the damage dealt and the probability of applying a debuff. In light of the fact that the blind grind here leads to the opposite effect, because you will only strengthen the enemies and increase the total number of life points for the bosses, combo bundles become the number one weapon against them.
They are performed by combat skills, played in a certain order and provided that the enemy does not kill you or you do not break the order by using healing magic or things. Finding the best bundles for specific enemies, as well as monitoring the availability of the required number of weapon points, is much more valuable here than constantly destroying the same enemies.
All opponents are visible on the location maps, and the battle begins when you touch the silhouette on a separate screen in turn-by-turn mode. All teams in the battles are a reflection of the weapons you have equipped, their combat skills and corresponding spells, as well as items that will have to be placed separately. The full set of available items is available only with the help of a backpack, which is best worn by a tank character with high protection and health.
Although there is no pumping in the usual sense, and many buns to the characteristics you get through an impressive arsenal of equipment and buffs, heroes can earn an increase in attributes based on the results of battles. This directly correlates with the effectiveness in combat – how many points of damage or treatment are produced and what skills the hero used. Preferences are given to those that cost resources.
At first glance, it may seem that the game relies too much on the grind, given the number of opportunities for growth, but the opposite is true. Killing the same weak enemies all the time is not an option. The developers somewhat break the pattern in this regard, because in fact, you grow each story from scratch and get them equipment. However, in fact, SaGa Frontier encourages you to think outside the box. As you may have guessed, the local protagonists have different races, where each has its own pros and cons. Accordingly, the authors spur interest in experimenting and creating a game that will meet your preferences and style of play.
As mentioned above, the most powerful weapons will be the most effective individual skills and combo attacks. The number of possible options is huge and really amazing. Micromanagement in terms of training specific heroes with their own customizable perks and equipment at the moment turns the game into a kind of constructor. Create a team of battle mages, melee and ranged warriors, or jack-of-all-trades-the choice is yours. The ability to put on different types of equipment and train your pets in other types of attacks only increases the variability of the gameplay.
Continuing the introduction to the protagonists, we turn to a girl named Asellus. She is half mystic and half human. If we draw analogies, then mystics are vampires who live separately according to their principles and masterfully master magic.
She wakes up in a Castlevania-style entourage, surrounded by coffins and mysterious devices in a huge, gloomy castle. As it turned out, she was on the verge of death and received a blood transfusion from the lord of the manor, inheriting the powers of mystics, such as immortality and the gift of charm of others.
"Am I a man or a mystic", " Which side of the barricades should I take?", "Is it possible to escape from evil fate"? - in search of answers to questions, Asselus will visit many regions. You will have to make an inevitable choice, which will lead to one or another outcome.
In the original version of SaGa Frontier, a number of scenarios and replicas were missing, but in the remaster, the authors returned all the content to the place, like the scenes in the biolab, and now it is easier for players to understand the motivation of Asselus and make an informed choice in the end.
In contrast to humans, mystics are able to absorb and acquire the skills of defeated monsters using special weapons and spells. But, alas, they can't learn new skills for swords, firearms, and martial arts.
Wizard Rouge has remarkable magical talents and exclusive, paired with another magician, spatial magic, which is quite a powerful help in battles. Another magician, Blue, turns out to be not a fool and goes on a long journey to study all the schools of magic. Of course, they are both the strongest wizards for a reason, and during the passage of the scenarios you will discover a shocking truth, where in the end you will have to decide to make a difficult choice.
Blue is quite an interesting protagonist, from a distance seeming to be a real villain because of his final goal and a very rude, detached character. At the same time, sometimes it comes to the comical, if you read the dialogues with the other characters. In terms of gameplay, it is also unique. All because of the fact that the game has opposing schools of magic, and you can not simultaneously own, say, the school of light and darkness-one cancels the other. However, Blue can master all of them at once. In addition, he is the only one able to teleport to previously visited places.
The only monster in our gang who takes human form in the game, Ricky, goes on a quest for powerful rings in order to revive his fading homeland of the Lummox animals. The story, although the most linear of all presented, is quite soulful and is a kind of story about the formation of a person and growing up.
It is quite difficult to play for him at first, since you are literally a goal like a falcon. Only accessories are allowed to equip,no armor or weapons. So no combat skills and attribute growth – only what you can absorb after defeating other monsters. One skill per monster, just like all the other members of this race. At the same time, having absorbed the soul of the enemy, your ward changes shape, which is reflected in the model in battle and its characteristics.
The good news is that almost immediately you will get allies of other races, among which there will be very strong comrades. I recommend the local samurai Gen, he is a very strong swordsman with cool martial arts skills, a real killing machine.
Bard Lute-perhaps the most banal of all the protagonists. But at the same time, the most that is, a jack-of-all-trades, who is good at mastering any attacks or magic, you can make a fighter out of him, who has all the desired skills for attack, defense and support. Being an adventurer at heart, he goes wherever he wants, and eventually comes across his father's killer and a powerful group, where some details of the global plan concerning the central storyline are revealed. On his way, he meets all the characters.
Model Emelia begins with a prison, where she gets because of the accusation of the murder of her lover. During her story, she meets knowledgeable informants and learns that she was framed by members of the dangerous Trinity organization. What sets her apart from the rest of the human race is the possibility of class change. It is performed when changing the suit in the style of spheres from Final Fantasy X-2. It changes not only its model, but also the characteristics with skills. Moreover, military-style clothing accelerates the acquisition of skills for firearms, and a wrestling suit – martial arts.
The story of the mech by the name of the model T260G immediately throws out of the fire and into the fire, demonstrating the galactic batch. As a result, our brave robot is buried in a Landfill (with a capital letter, as last time, because that's the name of the city – Scrapyard) for many years, until it is dug up by young masters of technology in one of the regions. It has a rather entertaining story, where people interfere, and the outcome resembles the games of the Phantasy Star series. The most juice in it is a cool battle with the final villain.
Mechs do not improve their parameters, as a result of battles, instead absorbing the computer programs of iron opponents, which open access to new skills. The T260G, in turn, has its own feature – it is able to change the body. Each chassis changes the model and gives an increase in efficiency in the use of attacking techniques against certain races, treatment and other advantages. Everything has a price, so you will need to think carefully about what mechanical parts, things and equipment elements to equip the mechs to get the desired build of parameters and a set of attacks.
The eighth and final character is the uncompromising Detective Fuse, a real tough nut to crack. His intriguing story intersects with all the others and opens the veil of mystery over many questions that remain after the passage of the plot for other characters. It is intriguing for a reason, because you transfer your decisions through the transfer of the game's system file before starting the passage. Only in its storyline is it possible to bring together all the playable characters, both main and secondary. (All details about the robot's adventures are forbidden by the embargo, so I will omit the details).
Of course, you will be challenged by a whole lot of bosses. Although they are repeated in places due to the structure of the narrative, there is no sense that there are very few of them, much less that they are weak. In addition to a large pool of health, each has its own unique aces up its sleeve, and you will have to get acquainted with both attack patterns and weaknesses. Sometimes you are amazed at the epic nature of battles – these are large interesting-looking models of bosses, and their animations themselves, and the battle melody, and even unexpected moments. So, in a battle with one of them, the place of battle will change right in the middle of the field, and the other will need to be entertained by a sophisticated method.
The openness of the game turns it into an analogue of Souls in places, where you can stumble upon a powerful enemy, falling to the death of the brave. Fortunately, they are allowed to be saved almost at any time, except for the places provided for in the plot. But this is not all-in the remaster there is an option to escape from the battle with a 100% probability. Naturally, you will not be able to hide from the bosses. Therefore, you should come prepared and fully armed.
The scenarios for each of the heroes are not only arcs of intertwining stories and combat challenges,but also original solutions in terms of gameplay. So, at one point you will have to solve a number of puzzles with mirrors, at another-use infrared glasses, and at the third-surf the expanses of cyberspace to destroy bugs to get into the system.
Speaking of other innovations, it is important to expand the explanations for all skills and subjects. In the old version, all the effects and bonuses were not specified, and there was no information about the impact of the things used during the battle, which, you will agree, is critical for a game with an abundance of objects and techniques. There is also a brief reference that outlines all the mechanics and features of the gameplay. Adjustments were also made to some skills and abilities, and a number of techniques were renamed to better convey the meaning of their actions.
It is impossible to express the amount of gratitude to the developers for such comfort as the ability to speed up both the animation of battles and the movement of characters. Options are available in 2 and 3 times, and are configured separately for each aspect. This saves a lot of time.
Interestingly, the game was graphically transformed with the help of AI upscaling, which gave an absolutely amazing result. Bright colors, neat models of characters and objects on the background, great battle animations. Believe me, given the diverse bestiary to match the settings of the locations and the many types of attacks, watching the effects and movements is a real extravaganza. I'm not afraid to say that with the exception of AAA titles, this is one of the most spectacular JRPGs. You feel the weight of the blows, coupled with a powerful soundtrack. Otherwise, we have traditional 2D, spiced up with pre-rendered backgrounds, which are now adjusted to the widescreen display scale of 16 by 9. Each screen is like an art form, whether it is a multi-story casino, dense jungle, a futuristic city in the sky or a magical kingdom.
The whole overall gloss is spoiled by the ridiculous interface with huge frames and poor fonts, as if they came from a cheap mobile game. It seems that the developers simply copied the shell from the mobile version, without bothering to adequately implement it on consoles and PCs.
Kenji Ito, the game's composer, seemed to be possessed by a demon when creating the soundtrack. The musical accompaniment changes as abruptly as what is happening on the screen, trying to suddenly plunge a melodic knife into the back of an unsuspecting gamer, only increasing the effect of presence and participation in the events. Music sometimes anticipates the future, but this is more of a plus than a minus, because it makes you concentrate in anticipation of a tragedy or fun.
Given the combined hodgepodge of settings, the composer tried to find the key to each. In all regions, you will feel the enveloping accompaniment, whether it is a lounge in a port town, a brisk battle march in the jungle, or a tense melody in ancient ruins. I would like to separately praise the theme that sounds at the start of each story and sets it up in the right way. It's mysterious, depressing, and fascinating – igniting the imagination with epic adventures ahead. Even more pleasing is the presence of as many as five battle tunes and unique themes of boss battles for each of the heroes - the most intense and long-lasting compositions.
Surprisingly, due to the intervention of the series ' father, the quality of this reissue was even better than the remasters of such pillars of the genre from Square Enix, such as Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IX.
An absolutely unforgettable JRPG-epic, which in some places has not been surpassed by any other game. Unique characters and situations, a non-linear narrative structure, a deep combat system and an atmosphere of endless adventure will not leave anyone indifferent. Technically, we have one of the best remasters of Square Enix, where the authors with love and awe improved everything possible, returned the original ideas and released them on all popular platforms.