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‘SaGa Emerald Beyond’ Hands-On Preview – Fantastic Combat With Incredible Music

Later this month, Square Enix will release SaGa Emerald Beyond, a brand-new standalone entry in the long-running SaGa series, on iOS, Android, Switch, Steam, PS4, and PS5 worldwide. That’s a big deal for a few reasons, like it getting a global simultaneous release, being a multiplatform launch from day one, and it is also arriving on mobile the same time as other platforms. All of those are small compared to the world getting a brand-new SaGa game of course. SaGa games have always been quality RPGs for folks who really love RPGs, and SaGa Emerald Beyond is no different. Thanks to early access from Square Enix, I’ve been playing SaGa Emerald Beyond on PS5 ahead of its launch. I can talk about the opening moments of the game, but rest assured we will be reviewing the full game on iOS and covering it on Switch and Steam Deck when we are able to.

Now you might be wondering why we are covering a game on PS5, well PS5 was the only version of SaGa Emerald Beyond available to play early, and we are not missing out a chance to play and write about one of the best RPG series out there are we? With that out of the way, this early preview allowed me to play a few hours of the game and sample three of the main character paths. It is early to say how the story will evolve, but all three show a lot of promise and have me wanting to play more.

With SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions, the team found a great middle ground between the necessities and decoration in an RPG. We’ve seen Square Enix successfully pull off RPGs that have the bare minimum outside a competent gameplay system as in Dungeon Encounters which I love, but SaGa Emerald Beyond is a more ambitious take on SaGa Scarlet Graces with enhancements and additions to every area so far. If you never played that or a SaGa game at all, SaGa Emerald Beyond does a fantastic job with its tutorials for its structure and combat mechanics, but don’t expect this to be a straightforward RPG. So far, the more I’ve put into the game, the more I’ve loved it, and I’ve also been surprised at how different things feel even in the start as I tried three different characters.

The original reveal for SaGa Emerald Beyond has always highlighted it having 17 worlds to explore covering different cultures and landscapes. At least based on the portions of the game I can talk about for this preview, I misunderstood how that specific aspect of SaGa Emerald Beyond would play out. I didn’t expect a big open world of course, but it feels like I’ve experienced the opening moments of multiple tabletop RPGs in the early bits of SaGa Emerald Beyond in its setting and stories. You do get some freedom to approach different situations, but it feels directed in some ways here.

Saying SaGa Emerald Beyond is unlike anything I’ve played before would be a lie, but it definitely has managed to make a SaGa experience that I love so far, and one I think will get more folks into the franchise with its gorgeous aesthetic, lovely visuals across varied locations, and sublime combat.

If you played SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions, you experienced one of my favorite combat systems in recent times. When SaGa Emerald Beyond had more of its gameplay showcased, I was excited to experience the combat more than anything. The team has more than delivered here. You have the elements from SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions here like the strategic elements in combat, but also new mechanics like interrupting and changing the order of your own party actions. I can’t even imagine how varied things might get in later parts of the game, but so far every single encounter has been fun.

Even in the early portions of SaGa Emerald Beyond, the music has surpassed all my expectations. The music from Kenji Ito, Yohei Kobayashi, and Hidenori Iwasaki has been more varied than I expected across the different stories and battles. SaGa Series music is always top tier, but I think this one might be even more special. Alongside the music, this release has English voice acting, and my only complaint here is the volume levels need changing because it feels like some character dialog is too loud compared to the music.

Having played SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions on every system outside the Japanese PS Vita release, I knew what to expect from the interface in SaGa Emerald Beyond. I ended up putting most of my time into the PS5 version over PS Remote Play on my iPad with a controller. I also did replay a few hours on PS5 to see how it felt. It runs smooth and looks great. I hope the other versions are as good. You can rest assured that I’m planning on covering every single version of the game with a focus on the iOS, Switch, and Steam Deck as soon as I can.

Square Enix told me that a demo will be released tomorrow, and I urge you to try it if you have the smallest interest in turn-based RPGs or just love RPGs in general. SaGa Emerald Beyond is shaping up to be truly special, and I continue to remain glad that the publisher lets Akitoshi Kawazu continue to give us new games and bring back gems for modern console, PC, and mobile platforms. I was already looking forward to SaGa Emerald Beyond quite a bit before, but I want to just stop writing this article right now and go back to it so I’m going to do just that.

If you’d rather try out an older game from the series before playing the latest and potentially greatest, make sure to read our reviews of Romancing SaGa Minstrel Song Remastered here, Romancing SaGa 2 here, Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend here, Romancing SaGa 3 here, SaGa Frontier Remastered here, and also SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions here so you’re covered.

SaGa Emerald Beyond releases on April 25th worldwide across iOS, Android, Switch, Steam, PS5, and PS4. Stay tuned for more SaGa Emerald Beyond coverage from us as we get closer to launch.

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