Title: Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe
Release Date: June 25, 2020
Reviewed On: iOS
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Gacha JRPG
For the uninitiated, gacha games can be pretty intimidating if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. A lot of them are marred with substantial pay to win mechanics, especially if it’s tied to some sort of multiplayer element.
Luckily for newcomers, the Square Enix released Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, a mobile gacha that’s exceptionally friendly to new players, with an added connection to the SaGa series. While it doesn’t really introduce anything new to the genre, it provides a great single-player experience through its accessible systems.
Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe has players assume the role of Polka, a trapeze artist with the circus. During a performance, an evil being appeared and kidnapped his partner, Liz. It claims Liz to be the “500th child” and disappears. Polka vows to rescue Liz and sets off on a long journey where he finds himself joining the Grave Knights, a group dedicated to protecting the land from demonic beasts coming from Graves.
These mysterious Graves also have what is essentially spirits of characters from past SaGa games, which help Polka on his quest. The story sections of this adventure push things along rather quickly, almost to a fault. Each character introduced gets a brief introduction of the personality and maybe a few bite-sized interactions later on, but that’s all we ever get. Even seeing Polka’s character growth as the hero feels incredibly rushed.
In the later parts, some story segments dive into an old character’s backstory, but I still ended up wanting more. Hopefully, some events are tied explicitly to the various characters in the future so we can learn more about each. Thankfully, the overall art direction of the game is astounding, ranging from the environments, battle sprites, and 2D models of the characters, which are both presented in updated illustrations and character models for this release.
It’s not a secret that gacha games are all about drawing new characters, hoping for a rare one, and then powering them up. In Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe many of the playable characters are from the original SaGa games along with a few new original ones. Some characters join your party through story progression, but the more powerful characters will be acquired through summons.
The interesting thing about this title is that you don’t have to worry about getting the best units. Enemies and boss fights seem to scale in difficulty as any typical JRPG would. There are also higher difficulty levels of the same story missions that give better rewards. I found that grinding levels is only required if you want to tackle early submissions dungeons early, but that isn’t necessary.
This is in contrast to the many gachas that have enemies who reach an insane power level where you’re forced to grind a crazy amount of levels or outright start whaling to get a powerful character. Approaching the tougher battles in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe mainly requires you to have the proper weapons and abilities instead of the most powerful SS rare units. This is especially notable since there doesn’t seem to be any upcoming plans to include multiplayer elements.
Fights in Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe play out in a typical turn-based JRPG format but paired with elements of the old SaGa games. Characters you use can actually learn new abilities during combat, depending on the “style” of character you have. Style pretty much represents the type of weapon that a particular character is using. There’s also a combo system that can be activated depending on the abilities you choose. It comes with a bit of trial and error, but you can attack enemies quickly if you find a combo sequence for higher damage attacks.
Additionally, players can activate limit break style combo attacks called OverDrives that can be executed once their OverDrive meter is filled. There’s also an option to set up different formations prior to encounters, each with their own benefits like having characters in the front line receive a defensive stat boost.
New players to the series will definitely find this combat more interactive since it can change during each fight. However, if you are coming with a load of experience in the gacha genre, then these features might lose your interest. Many times, gacha games hook players through complicated means menus and dozens of enhancement options, but this is one mobile RPG that likes to simplify those systems to be more straightforward.
I would like to thank the development team for sticking to their guns in using their old battle system, which has still proven to be fun even today as opposed to maybe dumbing down or overcomplicating the fights. Again, I never felt I was stuck or that I wasn’t able to progress fairly. I could also run auto-battle battles on previous missions to grab experience points, and weapon drops quickly and never felt I had to buy gems to get better characters.
Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe is a great entry point into the gacha genre and the SaGa universe. The connection to the series told through a new adventure flows well with the game’s RPG mechanics. While the game’s story isn’t going to immerse you, there’s no pressure on the player to use real currency by stonewalling them with a high difficulty scale or intimidating PvP mode.
If anything, Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe did such a fantastic job introducing me to the universe that I actually ended up buying Romancing SaGa 2 on my phone, so I can finally experience what this classic series has to offer.
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