Seven Heroes for Seven Runes
King Lemele has assembled a motley crew of seven of the toughest beings he could find. You can play as any one of them -- from a beautiful Elven sorceress to a strange Predator-like alien from another planet -- in a quest to recover the seven mighty Runes of Magic. The other six characters you'll meet later during your journeys.
The character you choose has significant impact on the game play and plot. Some characters are likeable and will have no problem interacting with townsfolk, while other characters, like the demon character, will not be trusted and therefore threatened at every turn!
Sinister Sights and Sounds
Graphics is one of the Saga's highest points, especially in combat. Although the viewing modes are from a standard overhead-view in Movement Mode and from a first-person view in Combat Mode, the quality in both is above average. Instead of cartoony images, Saga shows characters and monsters in a large, realistic style. The animation of the monsters is truly disturbing.
ProTip: Combining a warrior's and mage's skills, Lejes has devastating offensive power and is a good character to choose.
The haunting music sets off the graphics well, too. Although not quite up to the quality of Final Fantasy II, both the music and the sound effects are unusual and distinctive.
Don't take Esuna, the elf sorceress, as your character. Unable to wear armor, she is extremely vulnerable, even at the 25th level.
For all its originality in looks, sound and premise Saga's game play is very reminiscent of other games, like Phantasy Star. You wander the world fighting monsters and talking to people in towns and castles.
The movement is somewhat innovative. Unlike other RPGs where you're ambushed without warning, you can actually see the monsters on a radar map as they sneak up on you. This adds an intriguing real-time element to the game play. The interface is the standard two-button, yes/no type and presents no problems.
- Beware of the Cave of Earth, a dangerous dungeon easily accessible at the start of the game. Stick to the open desert for level-building.
- If you have a choice, don't challenge the other heroes. The computer gives them almost unlimited Magic Points, and the rewards just aren't worth the risk.
- When first mapping a dungeon, it's not worth the risk to open Treasure Chests. Most don't contain treasure, but a hideous creature known as a Trick, instead.
While not spectacular, the plot line changes from a straightforward story to a nonlinear situation best suited for experts. Many puzzles will linger for some time until you find the right person to talk to or the right item to use. Conversation is very limited, which may be a letdown for fans of the high-drama RPGs, such as Final Fantasy II.
Unfortunately, the frequent, simplistic combat does not live up to the rest of the game. Basically, you slug it out. Your choice of Spells or Weapons is immaterial. The monsters are tactically too similar from one another.
Since you will be ambushed every 5 to 10 seconds, combat quickly becomes a chore.
If you're a connoisseur of RPGs and don't mind incessant combat, you'll want to have this game in your collection. However, Enix may want to think twice before creating an Eighth Saga.