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The 7th Saga (SNES) artwork

The 7th Saga (SNES) review


"Enix went all-out to craft monsters that would test the mettle of even the most battle-tested adventurer. I faced instant-death attacks, brutal fireball and tornado spells and devastating melee attacks in fights with both bosses and run-of-the-mill overworld denizens. Just when I’d think a particularly tough battle was finally going in my favor, one foe would resurrect a fallen comrade or completely heal itself, forcing me to essentially start over."



THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE (or two)

Enix wastes no time getting the party started in SNES role-playing game The 7th Saga. Seven heroes are gathered in front of King Lemele, who promptly gives some sort of “bad moon on the rise” spiel. However, if these heroes can collect seven runes, the imminent triumph of darkness can be thwarted. Unlike most games, though, these heroes aren’t expected to work together. Lemele demands they separate and scour the land for the runes, doing whatever it takes to be their sole bearer. My hopes were rising that I was playing an intricate, innovative game with the potential for much infighting among Lemele’s apprentices, as each endeavors to prove their worthiness....by whatever means necessary.

But it all falls flat as Enix does the bare minimum with this theme. There is one mission where the player must take down an apprentice who has conquered a city and I also recall being forced to hunt down and beat up another who beat me to one rune, but that’s about it as far as intrigue. And, to completely dispel the “every man for himself” theme, players are allowed to recruit one “rival” to join them. Sure, there’s a slim chance this partner will turn on the hero in an attempt to snare sole possession of the runes, but that didn't happen once during my trek through the game.

Making things worse, none of the adventurers have any actual personality whatsoever. Valsu is supposed to be a virtuous cleric, but when I played, he’s the one that villainously took over the city of Patrof. Lejas was written as an evil demon in it for personal gain, but other than being a bit more likely to turn on a partner, he’s as “vile” as vanilla warriors Kamil and Olvan. Lux was designed as an emotionless robot -- making him about the same as the other six.

Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows....

Lux was the character I chose upon starting my quest. Now, this wasn’t the smartest move on my part as he not only made an obnoxious clanking sound with each step he took, but also was painfully one-dimensional. On the battlefield, Lux could hit foes hard. However, he was slow as sin, causing him to miss often, especially against bosses or any foe more agile than a stone block (and occasionally against those stone block enemies). His magic also was lacking, as I picked up a couple (supposedly) good magic spells, but never had the spell points to cast them that often. Obviously, I needed help.

Sure, it’s possible to go it alone and it could even be argued that’s a good idea (characters bulk up a lot quicker when they aren’t sharing experience), but virtually every hero has a crippling weakness. Lux’s power is tempered by his lack of speed or magic; Valsu has great magic, but is impotent in melee combat; Lejes is a fast and brutal attacker, but has no defensive ability. The list goes on, as some characters might be more well-rounded than others, but none are perfectly suited for a solo mission. A player’s ability to pick a partner whose strengths compensate for their hero’s weaknesses goes a long way towards making The 7th Saga a somewhat easier game.

WHOA!!! Maybe I should have told Lemele to cram it!

Not that this is an easy RPG to meander through under any circumstance. Enix went all-out to craft monsters that would test the mettle of even the most battle-tested adventurer. I faced instant-death attacks, brutal fireball and tornado spells and devastating melee attacks in fights with both bosses and run-of-the-mill overworld denizens. Just when I’d think a particularly tough battle was finally going in my favor, one foe would resurrect a fallen comrade or completely heal itself, forcing me to essentially start over.

The 7th Saga was a frustrating game for me because most every monster seemed capable of posing a serious threat to my well-being. The trek from a town to a distant dungeon wasn’t a simple warm-up for the real fights -- it was a brutal test of endurance that I found myself failing more than once, forcing me to warp back to town, rest at the inn, replenish my healing supplies and start from scratch. Oh, and don’t fall for the “no random battles” gimmick The 7th Saga claims to possess. Yeah, there is a radar on the screen and monsters are represented on it by white dots that aimlessly wandered in my general direction, but the end result was the same. Maybe I’d cover vast distances between fights and maybe those dots would run me down every handful of steps. The concept of battles was executed differently, but the end result was the same.

Bosses were even rougher, as those powerful spells were downright lethal in their hands; in some cases sufficient to put one or both characters on life support each and every turn. Even worse, though, were the rare times I had to engage another apprentice in battle. It was impossible to build a couple of levels and simply overpower them, as the computer has them level up at the same rate the hero does. These fights are designed to be one-on-one duels, so I couldn’t count on my partner. Those rare instances where I had to take on one of these guys filled me with dread, as going against certain apprentices at high levels was like signing my own death certificate.

That’s it!!! I’m outta here!!!!

The 7th Saga really isn’t worth playing, as the only thing it truly offers is a brutal challenge not found in most role-playing games. Sure, there are some other positives, but they all tend to be balanced by negatives. The battle graphics are wonderful, with gorgeous monsters and well-animated attacks....but the overworld, towns and dungeons are drab and plain. I found a lot of the music to be appealing and in some cases, such as the main dungeon theme, epic....but too many of the tunes are VERY short in duration, causing me to lose interest after the same one-minute (if that) song looped for the 50th time.

And, as I’ve said before, the game didn’t do enough with what could have been its greatest asset -- the competition between characters to collect the runes. When all seven heroes are generic RPG character templates, it’s hard to care about their mission AND when there is hardly any actual interaction between them, the whole concept seems rather pointless. No, The 7th Saga isn’t a horrible RPG, but it lacks the sufficient backbone and soul to make it particularly appealing for many players other than those who relish tirelessly leveling up in order to overcome mammoth obstacles.

Rating: 4/10

overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (July 06, 2006)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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