Review: Romancing SaGa 2 (PS4).
Romancing Saga 2 is probably the most unfair RPG I have ever played. You belong to a group of people who point out the high level of injustice of the series Dark Souls? In that case, I recommend checking it out Romancing Saga 2. Only then will you know the taste of true satisfaction after overcoming any adversity.
No, Romancing Saga 2 This is not Dark Souls RPGs, nor am I going to pull out any more of this series beyond the introduction here. However, I wanted to make you realize at the very beginning how unfair this game is, in which most depends on … luck. I don’t know if it was 25 years ago when it was created Romancing Saga 2 whoever was familiar with the concept of good game balance. If so, it is definitely not Akitoshi Kawazu, whose child I got my hands on at the end of December. The game is so unfair, so out of balance that … I can’t comprehend the simple fact – I enjoyed spending over 47 hours with it.
Before we get into the game, however, a brief history lesson. Romancing Saga 2 made its debut on the SNES in 1993 and never left Japan. So if someone wanted to check this installment, they either learned Japanese or imported the game, figured out how to drop it and upload the translation to finish it on the emulator. But let’s face it – nobody thought about such games. That is why the remake of the game released 24 years later for mobile devices (and for consoles and PCs) is like rain in the desert.
Looking at the projections you are wondering “what remake ?! it looks like a game from 20 years ago!” Well, yes. The visuals have been changed, although it still operates on a pixelart. The visual refreshment is on the one hand more pleasant and easier to read views, but on the other hand – depriving the original charm, especially if we look at and compare the original interface and the refreshed one. This is where the remake’s mobile roots are most clearly visible, where everything is incredibly large and not very comfortable to control with a pad.
The not very intuitive interface is probably the only problem that the remake brought us. In addition, Square has made all of the goodness. First of all – four save slots and the option to automatically execute them, which – believe me – is sometimes a salvation. Secondly – additional locations with new, strong items that, in theory, can spoil the game, but … without a balance, there is nothing to spoil. Thirdly – the option of a new game +, which at any time, from any save and how many times we like it, allows you to start the game while keeping the acquired items. And, of course, the English translation, which was done well, although if you want to use the guides written for the amateur-translated SNES version, you will not agree a lot. But well – the canon is determined by Square.
Okay, but what about the game ?! Why is it so unfair ?!
If anyone in Romancing Saga 2 did not play, he deserves a solid explanation of this aspect. The character development system in the game is … complicated. We don’t have levels, at least unofficial ones, and there is no stat growth, normal skills and spells (though a bit easier with them). Romancing Saga 2 it’s just random. Some mechanisms seem to work in the background, but … they serve randomness. The flagship example is skills. In many RPGs, we learn them with successive levels, from subjects or in a different, logical way. Here, skills are activated randomly during the fight, if we meet certain requirements (not disclosed to us in the game). When we activate a skill, a given character remembers it, and in the next generation – we can teach it to everyone. Simple, right? But when you spend 4 hours trying unsuccessfully to fire one of your stronger skills, your hands will drop. To show the level of complexity, only some of the aspects on which this system depends – character level (invisible to us), enemy level, known and used attacks, a special number assigned to each class and character separately. And, of course, the mathematical formula that decides whether we are going to learn something. It wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for …
… that the game doesn’t want us to fight too much. In the background, there is an invisible counter that converts the number of fights we fought to the level of enemies. So if we want to grind to raise the statistics or gain some skill, the monsters we meet will take us out in one move, and I don’t even talk about bosses, because some of them have more than one form and with our strength – they are stronger. This is where the complete lack of balance of the game comes out, which bases the mechanics of acquiring skills and pushing days in creating items based on combat, while doing everything to avoid these fights.
Were it not for this – quite serious – problem, we would be dealing with an absolute classic of jRPGs. Because the story and the gameplay around which it is entwined is incredibly satisfying, as is the complete lack of hand-leading and complete freedom in the order of missions. The plot revolves around 7 heroes who, according to legends, once came to the game world, saving it from the end. It turns out, however, that these heroes are a solid villain (each of them separately and all together), so they kill the current king, the older son, and thus start our fight. Romancing Saga 2 works strongly with the succession mechanics of the king’s lineage. After a certain number of fights and completing the mission, we receive a message about the passage of time, we choose the heir to the throne, who absorbs the previous statistics and skills of the previous ruler.
What is most powerful is the non-obvious nature of the game. Most of the missions require us to talk to NPCs. And they usually do not directly tell what to do, they mention, for example, that something is happening somewhere. We can ignore it or try to investigate. Interestingly, all these missions are simply extensive side scenarios in which we add new lands to the kingdom, increasing the income (a certain amount falls after each fight) of our empire, and also allow us to discover new classes and characters that we can join the team. In addition, we have some management fun, because in each generation, we can build specific buildings at once after meeting certain requirements (of course, no one will tell you about them). Each scenario is at least several dozen minutes of fun, so my counter after defeating the last boss stopped at over 47 hours. The main missions simply require you to defeat seven heroes, but not all of them are available right away. Like scenarios that unlock after meeting certain requirements, but in general – the order is free.
So, if you are looking for a solid jRPG, then you can look at Romancing Saga 2. However, I warn people with no experience in this genre and patience. Saga 2 will have no mercy on you and will take advantage of your slightest mistake. The game is far from perfect, but considering the 25 years in the neck of production, some things and archaisms can be forgiven.
The game was reviewed on PS4 Pro
The code for review was provided by the game’s publisher – Square Enix.