SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS – Review
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: Square Enix, Studio Reel
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Android, iOS
Tested on: PS4

SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: Characrters, Flow
Bad: Premium price, Barebones
User Score
6.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)

When a game presents its title in nearly all caps, it feels like someone is just shouting in your ears. Nonetheless, some publishers pride themselves in coming up with titles such as this, which are supposed to ramp up the wow-factor of the game. SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS is actually an upgraded version of a Vita title that was released in 2016. With the somewhat limited success of Sony’s handheld, Square Enix now thought it was the proper time to release the game on the Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam and even mobile platforms powered by Android or iOS. Those last two had us worrying if the game would be any good, as it has a rather premium price tag and you can’t really justify it when a PlayStation 4 game has such low requirements to properly run on Android or iOS. That being said, we moderately enjoyed the game, but it had some flaws for a console release.

Story

You’ll get treated to a somewhat strange story in this game. You’ll be thrown in a world where different ‘celestials’ are worshipped by the different empires the world has been divided into. While all celestials represent positive aspects, there is the ‘Fire Bringer’ who only brings chaos. When it’s the age of the Fire Bringer, many monsters used to spawn, but now that he has been defeated, the world has no more interest in working together. This also brings us to four separate stories you can play through. You can play with four different personas that wander around this broken world. While one’s goal is to rescue her kingdom, other characters are of a simpler origin. It’s hard to explain all the different plots, but the character you get for your first playthrough depends on what choices you make at the introduction of the game.

The story is brought to you by small conversations, much like a comic book. Only little parts are voiced, and this isn’t the most appealing way to present a story for an RPG game such as this. Many dialogues don’t add that much to the overall story and even then the main plot of the different characters isn’t always that interesting. The presentation of the story could have been better for a Square Enix release.

Graphics

Outside of the fairly cute character designs, the game is not that much to look at. You’ll be treated to last-gen graphics, and even then they are somewhat simplistic. You’ll have proper 3D character models in combat, which look decently designed, albeit with a lot of rough edges. There are a sufficient amount of different character models, but certain enemies tend to get overused. The overworld is done like in an old school RPG, where your character walks on a drawn map with icons popping up for certain points of interest. While the latter is not as crude as, let’s say the 16-bit era, it’s done in a fashion that will never stress the limits of your PlayStation 4. As this game is a Vita port, it does feel like it was designed for a handheld console, or even the mobile platforms it released on today.

Sound

The sound design is not bad. AMBITIONS does have a fairly decent soundtrack that provides you with a cinematic backdrop. The sound effects are properly done and the limited set of one-liners your characters spit out during combat don’t become too stale and/or annoying. A missed opportunity, however, is the voice acting. While certain key dialogues are voiced, it’s far too little to immerse yourself in this barebones JRPG experience. It would have been nice if the game was dressed up a bit more than it currently is.

Gameplay

SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS is a very typical JRPG game, but one tailored for mobile platforms. The game is very limited in its content and offers a very basic RPG experience. The game has a very solid foundation with many different characters, attacks, pieces of equipment and so on, but it feels like the developers never went further than said foundation. You’ll have to go through a very limited amount of dialogues, and you’ll simply go from one battle to another, often grinding to become stronger to progress.

Combat is fairly simple in AMBITIONS, as it follows a rather standard turn-based format. The game shows you the order of who is attacking next turn, and you can also see what moves the enemy will perform. You are limited to the amount of BP (Battle Points) you get per turn. These BP increase gradually per turn, allowing you to either have more characters attack per turn, or use stronger moves to vanquish your foes. You can alter the order of combat by using attacks with status effects on your opponents, and you also see before the battle what difficulty the next fight will be. Sometimes the difficulties don’t make that much sense, as some Hard battles are easily winnable, while Normal battles kick you in the groin repeatedly. Your characters also have LP (Life Points) and when they are knocked out in combat, they will lose a point. When they run out of LP, you’ll have to replace them with another character for the next few fights, allowing them to recover their LP.

Leveling is done in an unconventional way in this SaGa game. You don’t see an experience meter filling up, but you are rewarded on which skills you use, allowing them to rank up. You will gain more HP and skill levels for your weapons the more you fight. There is no clear system, but this isn’t that bothersome.

The developers pride themselves in calling this an experience in which you choose the flow of the story. To a certain extent, this is true, as you often have to pick which location you’re going to visit first, which might alter the other available locations. Sadly, it’s not clear what consequences some choices will have, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re making a choice at all, as it’s never clear if other locations will be influenced by you picking one over another. It’s fun that there are some variables thrown into the mix, but they are too unknown for you to feel good about.

The equipment system is rather unclear and basic, as you can craft new items, with the crystals you collect from your combat victories. You can slowly upgrade your characters, but the stats don’t offer that much in terms of upgraded power or resistance. Perhaps this is because of the gradual nature of the upgrades, that they are not that noticeable.

Conclusion

SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS is a fairly fun and bite-sized JRPG experience. While the game isn’t really a worthy next-gen title, it does serve as a great breather in-between more serious RPG experiences. While the premium price tag isn’t completely justifiable, we can’t call this a bad game. If this game was released with a lower price tag, the score would have been slightly higher, but if you’re a fan of grinding games, then this one is certainly worth looking into (when in sale). Don’t dive into this one for the epic storyline however, as the dialogues and story content are rather limited for a Square Enix release.

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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS - Review, 6.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

2 Comments

  1. JasuSakura
    JasuSakura
    December 25, 2019, 1:40 pm

    Does it share any (other) similarities with the Romancing Saga games? f.e. does it have the succession system where you continue with the next of kin/offspring if you’re main character/party dies in combat? Or do you keep playing with the same set of characters through the 4 storylines?

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    • Ibuki
      Ibuki
      December 25, 2019, 1:41 pm

      Each storyline has different characters. When you die, it’s often not even game over – you can retry certain battles or sometimes you just alter the storyline slightly. This game is a mobile-friendly game as it’s a Vita port, rather than a fullfledged PC game.

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