Vestaria Saga 1: War of the Scions – First Sip Review
Developed by Vestaria Project and published by DANGEN Entertainment. Vestaria Saga 1, is unsurprisingly the first game in a proposed SRPG franchise.
The broad strokes story of Vestaria Saga is pretty generic. A continent is divided into warring states, a large empire is crushing smaller nations. The game begins with one of the strongest of these coastal kingdom’s being wiped out. Well, actually it begins with the kingdom already on the brink of destruction. The king has been killed, as well as his general, however, the Princess and her guards remain to put up a final stand. But instead of fighting to the last man, the acting general sends his younger brother and a few trustworthy knights to flee with the princess. Again this is a story that has been told many times before. But only in broad strokes.
As the game progresses you’ll be introduced to an intricate story of war, betrayal, and deception. The game also has a branching story system based on the choices you make and which characters survive the battles.
The story is probably the strongest aspect of the game. Finding it interesting is almost required to enjoying the game as it takes up a lot of time. A solid 9 minutes of exposition occurs between the first two battles. You can speed up and even skip the text if you just want to experience the battles. But a lot of work went into the story and it is worth experiencing.
There are a ton of retro games using old art-styles. But there is a difference between classic and outdated. Unfortunately, I found Vestaria Saga’s art to be outdated. For a game released in 2019, it looks quite bad. The battle map screens are uninspired. Characters are small and hard to tell apart at times. But it’s the battle sequences that are really disappointing. The character models in still frames look ok, but during animations, there are obvious missing frames so it doesn’t look smooth. Character portraits are better but still nothing particularly unique. Backgrounds and cutscenes are also somewhat boring and empty.
Then there is the aspect ratio. for some reason, the game is made in a square aspect ratio of 4:3 instead of the widely used widescreen ratio of 16:9. Also strangely there is no option to make the game fullscreen. It begins by default in a windowed format and does not list an option anywhere to change this. You can press F4 while playing to make the game full screen, but it seems odd that it wouldn’t be an option or have the key even listed.
Again the music and sound effects in Vestaria Saga are fairly retro. However, unlike the graphics, this feels more acceptable and less outdated. While none of the music really stood out as anything memorable to me, it was still pleasant enough. The music carries a very classic fantasy RPG style to it, with that heroic synthetic orchestra sound that the classics used. Beyond that, there really isn’t much to say. Sound effects do their job, the music does its job, there is no voice acting which is understandable. With the amount of dialogue in the game hiring voice actors probably would have at least doubled production costs if not more.
If you’ve played the Fire Emblem series, especially the older titles (1990 – 1999) then you know exactly what to expect from Vesteria Saga. However, there is a very good reason for the close resemblance. Shouzou Kaga, the lead developer on the game, also created the Fire Emblem series. Vesteria Saga is basically how the Fire Emblem series would have progressed if Kaga remained with Intelligent Systems. But as a far smaller independent team I would wager Vesteria would have a much smaller budget than a recent Fire Emblem game. Which may account for the somewhat outdated graphics and various other technical issues.
In short, Vesteria Saga is a Strategy or Tactical RPG. Which means you have a battle screen split into a grid and units placed on this grid. Each turn you can move your units and perform an action such as launching an attack if the enemy is within range. Once all units have moved or you decide to end your turn early the enemy units will take their turn and then 3rd party units if there are any. Objectives differ between battles, sometimes the battle will offer multiple options for victory. For instance, get a unit to a certain location or defeat a certain enemy.
Most battles will involve far more enemy units than friendly ones. So tactics are paramount to victory. Everything from the placement of units to weapons selected or even performing tactical retreats. Losing a unit can be devastating as the game has permadeath. So any unit lost in battle is lost for the rest of the game. The game allows saving at the start of every fifth turn before an action is performed. Which means you can reload the battle if you make a mistake an lose a unit. However, it may also mean you have to play through the same few turns until you succeed.
Overall, the game uses a fairly complex system that relies heavily on stats and for some reason doesn’t include much in the way of auto-calculations.
If you are a fan of the Fire Emblem series than Vesteria might scratch a certain itch. However, if you are new to the genre than I wouldn’t recommend Vesteria as an entry point. The battle system, in particular calculations with the stats, are difficult to understand. Various NPC’s in the first battle will give you brief explanations in a weird fourth wall breaking manner (that I found distractingly out of place). But you can’t really review these tips later on so you can find yourself suddenly dealing less damage because of a weird stat quirk you forgot about.
Fans of the genre will find a fairly lengthy campaign as well as increased difficulty settings. As well as a host of characters you can come to like and then try hard not to let them fall in battle.
In Coffee Terms
In coffee terms, I would describe Vestaria Saga as a plain roasted black. It’s a classic blend to be sure. One that you would likely remember if you’ve been drinking coffee a long time. However, it doesn’t do anything more than that. There have been innovations over the past few decades, making coffee stronger, improving the visual aspects and adding all sorts of flavors. Vestaria Saga operates as if none of these innovations have happened. It’s not bad, in fact, plenty are bound to love it. But if you’re a modern coffee drinker with no nostalgia goggles then you’d probably expect more.
Vestaria Saga Links
Vestaria Saga 1 Review Summary
One half of the YouTube brother duo, The Game Bros with Sirhc and Ar0n, Chris is a lover of games, movies and other great things you can do from home.
Coffee of choice: I like the sweeter kinds, mixed with chocolate, coconut, caramel etc. but I won’t turn down a flat white or a straight black either.