Modern gaming is very different from what we saw in the past. Most games follow ordinary sensibilities to the point where certain buttons are synonymous with specific actions. However, many unique ideas, systems, and concepts were attempted back when games were figuring it out. Among the experimental games was Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song. The experimental RPG featured a unique art style, a bold narrative, and multiple different characters to explore. It made for an experience that resonated with several players, making Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered a rather bold choice. With a new coat of paint, faster gameplay, and all the things that made the original unique, is it a must, or is there a reason it never caught on?
Part of what makes Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered unique is the non-linear approach to narrative. Every character has their own quest to obtain the Fatestones needed to defeat the evil god; how you get there is entirely unique. This is also something that made the original release incredibly divisive.
The Start of Something Great
Since there is no linear direction, like you talk to this woman, who tells you to go to this place, and it just continues until the game ends, players are told almost nothing in Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered. Instead, players must engage NPCs, explore the world, mess with various elements, and slowly piece together what needs to happen. This is engaging since it feels like an adventure, one where you can miss half the game by making confident choices, but it can also make the in-between parts a drag.
For example, take one of the earlier quests where you need to reclaim stolen gold. The quest has a specific trigger: talking to a particular person, followed by visiting the town, though it relies on players to encounter them. The first part makes sense; you’ll see defeated guards that guide you to a confrontation before being told you need to find them. These enemies are found in the sewers, a location you’d either randomly find or noticed on the map given to you by, which need to be defeated to continue in the quest.
In addition to an unusual approach to narrative, combat works similarly. Instead of tying skills and things to standard progression, these rely on a concept called glimmers. The idea is pretty simple. When fighting a foe, there is a chance your character will randomly figure out a new attack. These need to be fixed, as retrying a fight can result in different skills being unlocked or, in some cases, this attempt not unlocking a new ability. This is one of many ways, there is also a purchase system and other things, but it furthers that realistic feel in the narrative.
Each encounter also has some unique rules and guidelines to it. Three main elements go into every attack in Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered. BP is a resource you gain on every turn that can be used to perform specific attacks. In addition to BP, there is LP, which works like MP, along with durability points (DP). As the name suggests, every weapon has a finite amount of durability that will decrease as you engage in combat or use specific attacks. When it hits zero, the item will no longer be usable and needs to be repaired via a blacksmith, inn, or something similar. It makes combat a bit more interesting, as you can’t rely on a single trick to overwhelm every enemy, but at the same time, you always have an ace in the hole.
The Unique Art Style Really Stands Out
All this being said, the outcome of the unconventional approach to narrative, and intriguing narrative, Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered is a pretty basic JRPG. Combat could be more engaging, and the mechanics are so unique you need to experience it. This isn’t a negative per se, more a point that the esoteric nature of the non-linear narrative will be the deciding point for many players.
If those elements resonate with you, Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered has some enhancements. These can be turned off, just like playing at the original speed. Graphics have also been improved, but it’s hit/miss, like in many games. Some sections still look pretty dated, with others having enhanced models. It’s a style that appeals to some, but you should still experience it if you love exploring the world.
Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered Review Verdict
Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered ultimately comes down to what type of experience you want. If you want to walk into every building, explore every dialogue option, locate a number of secrets, followed by repeating it as the other characters to unlock the true end, you’ll love this experience. Transversely, if you want some kind of direction, you’ll likely be frustrated with Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered the second you start. It gets better, just not to the point where it ever deviates from the same core idea.
[Editor’s Note: Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.]