December has always been a strange month for video game releases. Publishers seem to try and cram everything in November to get holiday shopper’s attention, which leaves December is a difficult place. Usually, the hype around December games fades as publishers set their sites on the following year, and gamers stress out when they realize how much money they spent during Black Friday.
However, this didn’t stop publisher Square Enix from slightly releasing two great RPG within the same week of this month, Star Ocean First Departure R and SaGa: Scarlet Grace Ambitions. Both games released digitally in the west and feature a range of mechanics and features that make them stand out when compared to other titles. That said, there’s no reason why every fan of RPGs isn’t playing one or both of these games right now.
Star Ocean First Departure R is a re-release of Star Ocean First Departure, which originally released on PSP in 2007. This version of the game has received an updated resolution and speed increase option along with a complete rebalancing of its battle system. Additionally, players can choose whether to play the game using English or Japanese audio, along with a newly recorded Japanese audio track.
While these upgrades are well received, its the adventure within this game that players will want to experience, especially if you haven’t played a Star Ocean game before. As the cast of characters grows, their bonds become stronger, which makes for some amusing and emotional moments of storytelling. The battle system is fast and accessible, and the game includes non-linear elements, as players can choose whether or not to bring certain characters with them on their adventure.
SaGa: Scarlet Grace Ambitions is the enhanced version of 2016’s SaGa: Scarlet Grace, which released on PlayStation Vita in Japan. This game is unlike any SaGa game that has come before, in that it does away with traditional dungeon crawling and town exploration. Players choose one of four characters who each have their own unique story across a vast region.
During gameplay, players will traverse an open world map as they make their way to key points of interest. This is where they will be prompted with what is contained in that area; typically, these are battles or unique ways to get materials. However, sometimes side-quests are found that takes the player on an entirely new journey that they have control over. It’s like you are playing Dungeons & Dragons in some ways, as you never know what you are going to encounter. Also, the battle system takes planning and strategy as players will learn new skills for each of their party members the more they use attacks. It creates great moments of thought as you try to create the perfect scenario for victory.
There is so much to these games, but we wanted to briefly turn you on to them in case they missed your radar. Each provides a different RPG experience, but they are both solid adventures with unique mechanics.
SaGa: Scarlet Grace Ambitions is available now on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, and iOS/Android devices.
Star Ocean First Departure R is available now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
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