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SaGa Emerald Beyond | REVIEW! | PS5

''To infinity and beyond''

 

Developed: Square-Enix

Published: Square-Enix

Genre: Role Playing

Release Date: April 25th, 2024

Platforms: PS5

*Review copy provided to me by Square-Enix


The latest stand alone title in the SaGa franchise is here and its developed and published by Square-Enix. With the franchise seeing bot hits and misses from its debut in 1989, Square-Enix decided now was the time to make another hit for the franchise. But did it turn out like they were hoping? or is this a case of getting a little too far ahead of yourself? Only one way to find out, so lets go!


''HEAD INTO THE LIGHT, THE LIIIIIGHT''

 

GAMEPLAY:


When people think of RPG's, they think of titles like Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, Mana series and even Quest 64. Well maybe not Quest 64, that's just me and only me being the one fan to exist in the entire world. The point I am making here is that for a franchise that has ben around since the late 80s and now has 14 or 15 titles under its belt, you really don't see talked about as much as the other classic long running RPG franchise. But why is that? I mean the games have been on nearly every platforming from its very inception, so its not like its reach was beyond the average consumer, no matter which decade you played it in, unless you were someone like the bro in Malibu's Most Wanted and had a GameCast instead of Gamecube and Dreamcast and you couldn't afford it, then it would make sense why you might have missed out on these titles over the many years. With there being 15 titles in the series now, and being on a plethora of platforms, including this generations Nintendo Switch, Playstation 5 and Steam, you'd think that with all the games out there that there would be some confusion about how to go about the gameplay. Well lucky for us, Square-Enix managed to find a very good common ground and figured out a way to unite the gameplay of the past titles into this latest entry as well, and strangely enough to minimal headache degree. That's right, you're not getting a Zelda 1 to Zelda 2 situation, so be VERY VERY thankful. I do not wish that torture on anyone, even Seymour from FFX. Well... on second thought, screw him, no one likes Seymour anyways.

A question people might have from the jump, for those who haven't played the series before, is it one of those franchises where you have to play every single dang thing ever released for it in order to understand just what in the heck is going on? No, thankfully the game is fully standalone and offers a collection of narratives thats easy to follow, even if you've never touched the franchise before. So, pretty much, you got luck by not having to play 500 spin off titles via mobile and music concerts like Kingdom Heart or if you're an FF7 fan, you don't have to suffer the equivalent of a headache known as Dirge... I really envy you. Here in SaGa Emerald Beyond, you uncover the story and narrative of five distinct characters with each of them giving birth to their own separate stories and different play styles, similar to what you would see in a game like SaGa Frontier or even Octopath Traveler. So.. listen their story... this.., may be their last chance. These five characters such as Mido who serves as focal point, Tsunanori, a puppet master who backs up the other companions on the journey, Formina and Bonnie who are both CCPD officers who showcase their skills and plights in their own respective narrative storyline, Diva No 5 who is a songstress that posses many secrets that are slowly unlocked over time, giving more weight to the story and lastly you have Ameya, who is the daughter of a legendary sage. Luckily she's not the daughter of Ero-Senin pervy sage from Naruto, otherwise they might have had to change the age rating on this title, just saying. Traversing through each character story and narrative you will go across many diverse worlds and recruit companions and fight extremely challenging foes against a variety of foes that feel like unique encounter related to the character you're in control of. The only downside to this overall for me is that the world itself and the missions you partake in, again, on a character by character basis, the missions and the world itself generally sticks to the status quo and remains consistent throughout, with slight deviations here and there that feels tailored toward the character narrative being told at the time. This can be noticed when you encounter a scientist when playing as Mido and even Diva no 5. Its basically the same scientist for both stories taking place, but while it remains somewhat the same, there are still slight changes that makes the approach its going for, differ from one another, which makes it feel just slightly more unique with each character than it sounds like at first - which overall aligns with similar aspects that SaGa Frontier had.

 

''I hate sand, its coarse, its rough and gets everywhere''

 

While each characters story and even main narrative can keep you invested and draw you in the more you play, sometimes you find the main character actual story a bit lacking and this makes you tend to drift in favor of other characters like Delores, who's narrative offers a vastly more intriguing take and more in depth scenarios that actually make you feel closer to the character, unlike Tsunanori has like a wall stop gap of development and starts feeling more like an obligatory character, rather than one who actually adds to the narrative and furthers the story along in a significant way and in the end, for his character, it leaves you feeling bummed due to how much he lacks compared to other characters. Not as lacking as as Quina from Final Fantasy 9 of course, so that's a win right there. Having said that though abut the game lacking in areas compared to other for characters, with each arc for the respective characters lasting around 5 to 6 hours depending on your player skill, this can push the overall story mode to around 26 hours and should you get stuck or have issues or partake in everything, you'd then be looking at a just over 30 hours in order to complete the entire game with all the five playable characters, even with replayability in mind due to the way the overworld itself works and what it sets out to accomplish. Straight forward and a little too easy most of the time, even with difficulty being abled per mission, the game does wobble a tad bit like a little fat penguin and has some issue here and there trying to balance out the direction it wants you to go on, alongside with figuring out which enemies and battles they want to throw at you thats unique to the character you're playing as that gives you a reason to want to progress further, In turn you have a pro and con, sometimes things seem like they're purposely making you feel directionless, but at the same time, the devs insert just enough subtleness to the alterations of the game that make you want to explore a tad bit more here or do a little but more battling and giving you JUST enough incentive to keep your brain grasped within the narrative itself. Which for me was a good thing because with my attention span, sometimes I play games and halfway through it I'm just begging to let it end, just like Christmas season with Mariah Carey... PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!


Wait wait wait, hold it. Aren't I forgetting something? 5 main characters and side characters, 5 different narratives and story paths, combat that plays to the players skill and strength, 30 hour plus game, decent replayability that gives you incentive to want to play more even though you should be sleeping and now you're going to be dead tired the next day and look like a zombie(like me)... but still, something is missing.... Oh yeah, the dang gameplay, oops. Explained a little bit to nausea through the titles instructional videos, with each character like traditional RPGs getting their turn in battle as you award your turn order, each character you play as has their abilities betoken by cost, effects, timing and even damage, which makes it pivotal to take actions like bosting potency of each attack to ensure all attacks remain strategic by chaining together your attacks to turn a normal damage output to the more critical hit levels, which if done enough and right, will allow that character to unlock additional attacks to use as well. This is why being strategic in games like this that WANT you to push what the mechanics can do can be so crucial to a persons perception or not on if this game has fun combat, or if it something that bores them to tears. By strategizing and not just mindlessly attacking and hoping you just over power and win like I do in most RPG's because I just like the feeling of beating the living snot out of people(even in real life), by using chains, you can also BREAK and disrupt enemy assaults on you and your party to your advantage, as well as manage your little companion friends to do small actions here and there should you need them to help out with things like, should you use them, how will that effect your current formations that you are using to create a more diverse tactical depth? That can be determined by your set up and allow you to figure out which companion is good to use in certain scenarios over another. You get to play the way YOU wish to play, which is always a win in my book when RPG's and even games in general let you figure stuff out and play YOUR way. Basically I just described and called them Burger King since we have it our way.

 

''BY THE NINE DIVINE''

 

OVERALL:


At the end of the day, SaGa Emerald Beyond, at least for me, remained a fun experience overall, but with a sprinkle here and there of things that lowered the bar just a tad bit. Some characters arcs not being as interesting as others can lead you to wanting their five hour story to end quicker than it should because of lack of patience, difficulty that even if you pick the harder difficulties that missions let you pick still making the game feel a tad bit on the easy side even without griding out levels, some character arc stories feeling too similar to the other due to meeting same characters or being in the same area, that kind of ruins its uniqueness a bit, etc etc. Even with those negatives, the bopper music, fun strategic gameplay, great art style, decent amount of replayability and each character combat wise feeling different from each other, makes the overall positives of the game outweigh the negative. Is it better than some the previous entries into this franchise? no - but it does what it needs to do in order to keep the reputation of the franchise intact and that is ultimately the goal these companies should strive for. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick say BUY NOW



 




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