Who doesn’t want to get paid for playing video games? This series follows mobile applications, some of which are borderline games at best, that claim to reward users with cold hard cash (or gift cards). In my pursuit of extra cash to blow on games, or Steam gift cards to add to my collection, I have tried a number of these applications. I hope my experiences can help others steer clear of the more dubious of these applications.
Today we’ll be taking a look at the recent free-to-play mobile game, with the name that seems like they didn’t spell check it, Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe released by Square Enix worldwide in June 2020. This title was previously released in Japan in 2018. While this game does not pay users directly, at the time of this writing it is being offered as one of the games you can be rewarded for playing through Mistplay, and possibly through other services as well.
Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe, hereafter just Romancing SaGa, is an extension of Square’s SaGa universe, which while less popular than the Final Fantasy series, still has had multiple console game releases since the early 1990’s. It is a mix of classic Japanese role-playing with mobile aesthetics thrown into the mix. The story is kind of a mess to try to explain.
The game starts with a teacher giving a history lesson where the student falls asleep. There’s something about an ancient evil 600 years ago, which presumably is returning and your character is the chosen one who will need to defeat it. There’s also a bard telling a story in a tavern. At any rate, you briefly control a group that gets demolished by a big demon, before the game switches to focus on a particular story arc.
The game then focuses on an acrobat, Polka Lynn Wood, whose sister is kidnapped by a demon. He joins an organization, The Grave Knights, who are somehow related to magical towers called Graves and that somehow summon adventurers from other worlds, which is essentially the in-game excuse for having characters from other titles in this series as collectible party members. This organization also gives you missions that move along the game, but the overall initial plot arc seems to be to somehow find and rescue your sister.
Confusing or barely explained plot lines are nothing new in Square titles. The game’s combat mechanics will also feel familiar to anyone who has played their older console titles. At its core, you build a party of 6 adventurers and use them to fight against groups of monsters.
Each character starts with a basic attack, but unlocks new abilities during combat. These abilities are predetermined by who the character is, so it is just a matter of fighting enough to unlock them. Abilities, other than basic attack use BP (presumably Battle Points) to activate. Characters start combat with 10 BP, and gain 3 at the start of each turn after the first. Abilities can also rank up through use and become more effective.
Battles are split up into rounds, so you are typically fighting 3 separate groups of monsters per quest. Quests themselves are chosen from a list, with new ones unlocking as you clear each one. To begin a quest, you need to spend Stamina points, which can be on the first couple of screen shots as the numbers following the lightning bolt symbol at the top of the screen.
Each combat encounter in the main plot section of each battle is followed by a brief cut scene, listed as a Story Quest in the screenshot above. Outside of the main plot, there are also Challenges, Events, and Daily quests. Challenges and Events are typically for higher level parties, but the Daily quests contain a training area that you can use at early levels to fight weaker monsters.
Characters earn Style experience for winning encounters. This experience can be spent in the Dojo to level up characters, improving their stats and sometimes earning new passive abilities. You can also passively earn characters experience by sending them on expeditions. These expeditions take several hours to complete, though you can expend some items to end them instantly.
You earn Aurum, the currency of the game world, by completing expeditions or battles. Expeditions also seem to reward components for upgrading items, while plot battles may reward equipment. Aurum can be spent on equipment or fragments of characters. These fragments can be used to unlock a character, or increase their max level.
Unlike most role-playing games, there are no real items you can use during combat. You are limited to character abilities, so getting an array of characters and unlocking their abilities seems to be the key to progressing. There are also various types of characters and monsters, who are more effective against one another, so at a certain point building a party for a particular fight becomes a bit more involved.
You get one free character summon per day, but can also spend jewels to summon more. Jewels are the other currency used in Romancing SaGa, which are primarily earned by completing Missions. Missions are split into daily, weekly, main campaign, and special categories. Like the names imply, daily and weekly can be done once per day or week. Main campaign missions can be completed once and special missions are only available for a limited time during events.
That about covers the basics of playing this game. As noted earlier, it is a free-to-play title. To monetize it, they offer in-app purchases of jewels or watching external advertisements to earn “free” jewels. Neither option seems to be pushed overly hard on users, as I have yet to see pop up advertisements in the game about buying things. As always, if you are playing this game to earn loyalty rewards, making purchases inside the app doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The art and music are well done, as one should expect from a large game developer. Square Enix is known for some really great musical scores, and while this game has decent music, it isn’t as outstanding as their Final Fantasy series. I’m also guessing that a lot of the character art is reused from earlier titles in the Romancing SaGa series. One odd item of note is that there are random Japanese sound bites in the game, typically triggered when you enter the Dojo or Forge.
The game is heavily about grinding for experience, better gear, and new characters. If you enjoy turn based role-playing game combat, then it is likely that you will enjoy this title. If you don’t, then this may get overly repetitive before too long. I will note that from my, admittedly limited, playing of the game it doesn’t seem to be overly difficult to progress through the story mode. This may be due to the large amount of bonus items being given out to new players to celebrate the game launching.
Overall, I would give Romancing SaGa a solid “B”, or 7.5/10 stars. I found the game enjoyable, and a step up from a lot of other games that you can be rewarded for playing. I also appreciate that it isn’t too overt in trying to make you purchase things for real currency.
If you want to check out Romancing SaGa: Re;univerSe it is available on the Google Play store here. At the time of this writing it has a 4.5/5 star rating. It is also available on the Apple App Store here, with a 4.8/5 star rating. However, if you plan to try to earn rewards through a service, you are typically required to install it through that service.