Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Look Ahead - Soul Saga

Now that Soul Saga has been over-funded by three times the original pledge with the Kickstarter closed, I believe it's time to really start talking about it, since this is something you'll want to look forward to.  In the interest of full disclosure, the main reason this game is on my radar is because it will be available on Vita (and PS4, Wii U, PC, Mac and Linux) a year from now when it's finished (barring delays) and it looks really, really neat.  Originally, I'd heard the intention was simply those minus the PS4 and Vita (likely because the former hadn't been formally shown off yet, nor extrapolated on, both of which we saw happen at E3 and thereafter) and none of those play options were open to me.  So, admittedly, I just sort of passed on it which is obviously a bit selfish, but it's simply because there are just so many games, you guys.  I'm sure you realize.

If you're not quite sure what Soul Saga is, because you equally haven't been paying attention prior to this point, then it's a game that bills itself as a JRPG that's been inspired by some of the classics we remember growing up like Breath of Fire, Suikoden and of course, Final Fantasy, though there are some other RPGs that it draws from which I will get into in a bit.  It starts a bit familiarly; the main character, Mithos, is a young man following in the footsteps of his loathsome (from Mithos' perspective, at least) father in becoming a Guild Leader with the ultimate goal of succeeding where his father apparently failed.  Of course, just getting to that point will take some doing as being a Guild Leader obviously isn't a walk in the park.  However, it's through this that a bulk of the rather neat gameplay mechanics come into play, which is why I wanted to point it out beforehand.

I have held off long enough, so I want to get to one of the things that made me -really- excited about the game.  The world of Soul Saga is one made up of Sky Islands that rest upon a reef of clouds, shielding them from the harsh surface world below.  Being that they are -islands- in the -sky-, there's obviously only one way to get around - by airship.  Thanks to some of the stretch goals, the developer is going to be able to implement a Skies of Arcadia-styled Airship Exploration and Airship combat system which is amazing.  I would say that that element was one of the better parts of Skies of Arcadia, but that would be lying because -all- of the parts of SoA were good parts.  The Airship Exploration/Combat is merely something that made SoA stand out from the rest of the JRPG fare at the time and with good reason - not only was it different, but it was so good.  If SS's attempt is even half as good, it's going to be worth the game alone - something that I'm not saying as hyperbole.

Really, all of the stretch goals for the Kickstarter were for love letter-type things like that to older RPGs.  After you got by the basics of funding the game itself, Voice Acting and Wii U/PS4/Vita ports, it begins.  The Airship and combat stuff, I covered as Skies of Arcadia, just now.  The Job Board is something you're all familiar with - side quests to keep you occupied in the form of villager requests and the like, all posted to a central location.  Legendary Weapons is a standard as well, though more celebrated in Final Fantasy than anything I can think of - remember getting the Ultima Weapon for Cloud in FF7, or dodging 200 lightning bolts in FFX for Lulu's best doll weapon?  Yeah, it's like that, only they have their own storylines attached, so it's probably more involved than "Beat big optional boss". 

The Guild Master and Guild Hall areas are where we start delving heavily into Suikoden territory, (Technically Skies of Arcadia as well) in that the former has you scour the land for potential guild members and entice them to join you at your HQ.  The latter then allows you to have these guild members actually -do- things, provided they're not in the party (I assume, if they can even -be- in the party) giving things a sense of life that exists beyond when you're there.  Basically, it enters a bit of management into the game, which just isn't done enough, honestly, and has only met with limited success recently (what comes in my head first is the...questionable attempts by the Assassin's Creed games - send person out, wait, they might win, get reward is hardly exciting or worth bothering with), but can be a genuinely good mechanic.  One of the other stretch goals that was met, Guild Battles, also sounds to scratch the Suikoden itch, sounding to me like the War battles that the series introduced and ran with that were quite different and quite enjoyable.  There's still a few more Stretch goals that I didn't explain, some because they weren't funded (Though Garen's Saga is going to happen even though it didn't reach that total before the funding date) or because I'm just not sure what to think of them (like the Pandora's Boxes, which sound interesting and different), and if you're interested the full list is here with fairly detailed descriptions.

Mechanically, the game just sounds outstanding - a mesh of all the best parts of the best RPGs of the past, which seems to be a popular goal of late and an admirable one to go after.  After all, these neat little parts are -why- those series were beloved, even if it didn't get them the big sales numbers that were just hard to come by back then.  The development cycle of the game is something I'll be looking after with quite a bit of interest, since I can guarantee you that fifteen of my dollars will be going this game's way the moment it becomes purchasable on my Vita.  I am thoroughly sold at this point in time, and if you're not, I seriously have to question why.  Unless...you just don't like JRPGs, which is understandable.  Even still, this is ambitious and while I hope it's ready a year from now, I'll check my expectations here.  When it's done, it's done and if that ends up being more like a year and a half or better, well, so be it.  Just make sure the game is as good as it can be, because we're looking forward to it now, DisasterCake.

please include a giant friggin' Harpoon Gun weapon for your airships please, because that thing was so awesome

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