SaGa Frontier Remastered Review – A Non-Linear JRPG at Its Best
Title: SaGa Frontier Remastered
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: April 15, 2021
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Square Enix
Growing up in the PlayStation era was a great time for JRPG fans. Square Enix seemed to have curated a group of developers who delivered hit after hit in the genre. While exploring the isles of Blockbuster at the age of 11, I stumbled across a game from the developer that I had never heard about, SaGa Frontier. I chose this to be my game for the weekend, and I ended up asking my dad to buy it for me four days later.
This is a game that means a lot to me. As a kid, I could only beat a few scenarios, but I still found comfort in every playthrough being different. With the release of SaGa Frontier Remastered, I can approach this game as a long-time fan with an eye for the subtle changes added. One thing is for sure, though; this is still the most fascinating JRPG I have ever played.
SaGa Frontier can’t be put into a box. You’ll have the choice of 7 scenarios after beginning a new game, with an 8th scenario to be unlocked. Each character has a different story and often a different antagonist to be fought. The scenarios transcend dimensions and even take us to hell and back; it’s an adventure through and through.
What’s important to grasp is that these scenarios are supposed to be playing out around the same time. You’ll encounter other characters through their individual storylines as you progress a character’s story, which might come off as strange, but playing each character will give you the general idea of what they are fighting for. Themes include elements of revenge, love, and world-saving battles. The choice is ultimately yours as to how you want to approach these tasks, and it becomes a genuinely awesome experience.
I will say that some scenarios are inherently more difficult than others in terms of length and end bosses, but they all have something in common no matter who you choose first; you’ll probably be confused as hell as to what to do. From the very beginning, you are left to figure out what to do. Mostly it requires you to talk to some NPC or go to a specific place, but you’ve got to pay attention to know what the game wants you to do.
Luckily, there’s a gorgeous new quest log that lets you know what you need to do next to progress the main story. It also provides details on any active side quests you have unlocked. However, side quests are tricky in this game. Even though the world is open for you to explore, you don’t really have to go everywhere during a playthrough. It’s ultimately up to you.
Some quests are shared between characters, such as the Arcane and Rune Magic quests and a few others, but you really aren’t forced to do them. Talking to NPCs may point you in the direction of optional quests as well, so you will not only have to talk to everyone but also pay attention to what they’re saying.
The design is brilliant as every playthrough is a different beast. The challenge comes from understanding the game’s nuanced systems. How leveling up works, how to acquire certain characters, and where the hell to go will always be on your mind. However, every minute spent will often reveal something new about the game you didn’t previously know.
The battle systems require lots of patience because it’s not as easy to explain as the story. I’ll say that there are humans, robots, and even monsters that can join your party. Humans can very in job class and extend to a Mystic arts user, while monsters can learn new abilities and become stronger from absorbing fallen enemies. Learning new techniques happens at random, and there are even secret techniques learned when a group of techniques are learned.
After a battle, your party is completely healed to fight again in the next encounter. However, characters have Life Points that determine how many times they can die in a fight. Characters can be healed after they die, but once they hit 0 LP, you’ll need to go to an Inn to restore them. Luckily in this remastered release, you’re able to run from every fight. This is just perfect for those who don’t want to be too over-leveled.
Equipment can now be auto-equipped on humans, depending on what type of character they are. I liked this feature, but you’ll probably have a specific loadout when entering a boss battle that you’ll want to adjust manually.
When it comes to SaGa Frontier Remastered’s updated system, you’ll find some gorgeous-looking character sprites that display each of the characters clearly. I don’t think I noticed some of their clothes and hair’s finer details when playing the PlayStation version. The menus are touched and up optimized, and the pre-rendered background appears to be a lot better than what we saw in Final Fantasy VII Remastered.
Another aspect of SaGa Frontier Remastered is the scenario of Fuse. He works at the IRPO, and no, that isn’t his real name. He is a martial arts user who was a playable character in the original game. His scenario isn’t the best, but it was fun to get to know more about him. The new game plus also makes additional playthroughs so much easier to get through, but there is an option to play the game with the updated features.
I’ll say one thing; the auto-save feature is a godsend, especially during the scenarios where random bosses occur. You can even quicksave before a battle to load back in easier. However, it isn’t possible to return to the main menu from the menu screen, but I did test out the old trick of R1+L1+Start and it takes you right back to the main menu. I enjoyed the fast-forward option as well since the end bosses can be exceptionally long fights.
I feel like I can go on and on about SaGa Frontier Remastered that would extend far outside the scope of this review, but if I could sum it all up, I’d say this is the best non-linear JRPG of our time. This does come with a load of nuanced challenges that will push your patience and understanding of the genre. However, after a few hours, you’ll feel the same way.
The remastered version only makes the series more approachable with updated visuals, autosave capabilities, a new protagonist, and additional scenarios. I couldn’t have asked for a better version of this game to return to.
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