Review: Crimson Gem Saga (PSP)May 26th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Sony PSP
It’s always nice when an RPG comes along that tries to do away with gimmicks in their battle system and present a simple set-up that is more fun to play. Atlus’ Crimson Gem Saga adheres to that old school-style turn-based gameplay that lets the game focus more on presenting an enjoyable story than gimmicks to set itself apart from the pack.
Crimson Gem Saga stars a man named Killian that is fresh out of the Green Hill Academy for chevaliers and heads out to find his place in the world after a disappointing finish as the salutatorian of his class. This ends with forming a group of four adventurers to find this powerful Wicked stone to stop it from being used for evil purposes. The story is enjoyable with enough good humor thrown in to keep it entertaining after the many hours it takes to beat the game.
After the first arc, your group of adventurers is sent off on a quest to collect the remaining Wicked stones, which presents the first major issue with the pacing of the story. After breezing through the first ten hours at a nice pace through the story, the first stone takes a hefty ten to fifteen hours to complete as you’re given about ten extra steps through three towns and three dungeons that feels like a ton of fluff and extra complexity compared to how the game starts. These aren’t simple dungeons either, as two of the three you’ll run into can be confusing enough to get lost easily without a simple map that you could bring up to remember where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Another dungeon immediately following the discovery of the second Wicked stone introduces another dungeon you must get through that is just a maze, with many rooms that look the same unless you map the dungeon yourself to get through the confusing mess that is called a dungeon. If there was a simple option to buy a map like the monster compendium that you can purchase to reveal enemy weaknesses and their level, this would not be as much of an issue at all.
The battle system in Crimson Gem Saga is simple fun with the basic options that you’d expect from your typical turn-based RPG on the SNES or PS1. There are a few tweaks that compliment the simple battle system nicely, such as the ability to ambush enemies that you see outside of towns for the first hit advantage, a combo system that lets you get a few extra hits when prompted to do so, and even teamwork moves that you can unlock by using the skill trees. It would have been nice to have something to differentiate harder enemies from the easier enemies that roam dungeons like other games with a similar feature that changed colors or their size to let you get an idea of what you may be getting into beforehand, but all you’ll see here are blue ogres that roam the countryside.
Crimson Gem Saga does look very good with its hand drawn style of sprites that works well enough, though a bit more work into making it feel like more than just a pretty backdrop could’ve added a lot to the visual style. There are some small hiccups here and there where battle animations stutter, particularly with this bomb-throwing humanoid rat enemy you run into constantly during one of the dungeons, along with some clipping issues where Killian’s sprite pops above tree branches and other items it shouldn’t. Load screens are all over the place, especially in dungeons, as many of the areas in the game are cut up into smaller pieces, so prepare to see even more of that blue ogre than you’d expect.
Crimson Gem Saga does have great audio, with a lot of good music playing in the background as you fight or explore. Voice acting has been added to the North American release for this game, which helps differentiate more important dialogue scenes from the rest and does a nice job of adding to these characters.
Crimson Gem Saga does provide a fun experience as a simpler turn-based RPG, but the maze-like dungeons that don’t offer maps to alleviate confusion sour the experience quite a bit. It’s not a complete turn-off, but made what was an engrossing experience more of a chore as time went on. If you’re a PSP owner that craves for good RPGs, this is probably the best original RPG you will have seen since Crisis Core from last spring and it’s a decent purchase for a new, solid RPG to play on the go.
Final Score: 7.5 | Suggestion: Buy It
Sony PSP |