It’s always strange to think that SaGa, one of my favorite video game series, was initially titled The Final Fantasy Legend in the west. Since 1990, the series has received several sequels and spinoffs, but none more prolific than the Romancing SaGa trilogy. Now, Square Enix is returning to the Romancing SaGa storyline with the upcoming release of Romancing SaGa Re:Universe, a mobile exclusive coming west to iOS and Android. Romancing SaGa Re:Universe takes a lot of inspiration from the series with its many features, but it will ultimately be judged as a true SaGa title with its late-game offerings.
Romancing SaGa Re:Universe tells the story of the Child of Destiny, a warrior born every 300 years. While it was thought that after the planet was reborn, the Morastrum would never return, the legends were wrong, and darkness began to show its ugly face. With the Child of Destiny born, no one has a clue whether they will be good or evil, which is typically the case for those who are chosen.
The story begins by introducing Polka, a trapeze artist in the circus. During a performance, his partner Liz was kidnapped by an evil entity, proclaiming her to be the 500th child. Polka then promises to rescue her and sets out a journey until he finds himself joining the Grave Knights, a group of soldiers who protect the region from demonic beasts. With the base of operations set in the city of Vanguard, players join Polka on his quest to become more powerful and follow any leads pointing towards the whereabouts of Liz.
The story is somewhat haphazard and requires you to play a few missions before you understand Polka and his backstory. It definitely feels rush in the early scenes, but this also allows mobile players to jump right into the action without the need for a lengthy tutorial. Instead, the game opts to explain features as you explore the various menus. So, in a sense, there’s very little handholding done, which is unique for a mobile game.
The gameplay is incredibly streamlined here, and you won’t really be doing much outside of strengthening units and fighting in quests. However, the game does highlight the story sections through later missions where you get a better idea of the other character’s personalities and feelings towards Polka. This approach is reminiscent of other Romancing SaGa titles, where they mainly only focus on character growth through battle and story elements. Things like realistic graphics, new systems, or a straightforward narrative are missing entirely, which series fans will be used to.
The battle system has a manual setting where you can choose attacks for your party members. Additionally, there’s a Normal Auto Mode, which conserves BP and a Full-Power Auto Mode, which uses the best attacks available no matter the BP cost. Either way, characters will randomly learn new skills or improve the ones they use. Characters can also team up for special joint attacks to cause serious damage.
Quests open to players are separated between Main, Event, Daily, and Challenge. The game doesn’t require it, but grinding levels is beneficial if you want to get through the dungeons easier. Players can also change the difficulty of each mission so they can take them on again at higher levels for more rewards. There is a stamina meter here that is needed to take on quests. However, I never seemed to run out of it as each quest that I went on added stamina after I was graded or as I gained levels. Still, I imagine you’ll need to keep your eye on this in the later parts of the game.
As players use characters in battle, they’ll be able to use their experience to enhance their Style. Each character has their own Style experience that they can use towards leveling up. Characters can also have their Style level uncapped later on in the game to produce more reliable units. The stats improved vary between characters, which makes each unit unique.
As you can see, Romancing SaGa Re:Universe is relatively similar to other Square Enix mobile titles such as Brave Exvius. However, the art of learning new skills in battle and the option of a non-linear storyline is what will ultimately set this title apart. When it comes to SaGa games, the story trumps all other systems, as the characters and battles only aim to assist it. I’m enjoying the ease of entry that the game offers for non-mobile gaming fans as well as its auto features. Still, I’m holding out to play through later story quests and get the authentic SaGa experience when the game officially launches.
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