After giving some initial impressions of Mercenaries Saga 2 for a "Demo Hotness" back in December 2016, I've finally gotten around to playing the full game. For convenience's sake, I picked up the Android version rather than the 3DS version that I originally previewed. Here are my takeaways now that I've finished the game:
- Throughout the game's 32 stages I found that the variety of units, skills, and classes allowed for good party customization and changes of tactics. That being said, there definitely seemed to be some clear winners and losers among my characters (e.g. witch >>> thief)
- Most of the battles provide a good challenge and mix of enemies along with some varied terrain to take into account. However, there were very clearly some stages that were just there to serve as padding. In my opinion, if the whole set up for a battle is "Oh no! Bandits!", it probably didn't really need to be in the campaign.
- As somebody who is pretty averse to grinding, I was concerned when I hit a few difficulty spikes. Thankfully, by revising my strategy I was usually able to find a way overcome stronger enemies and I managed to get through the whole campaign with minimal grinding. To me, this is a hallmark of a well-designed strategy RPG.
- Compared to most other SRPGs, the battles are fairly short which is well suited to portable play. It's also helpful that progress can be saved at any time mid-battle.
- As I noted during my preview, the controls and interface are pretty clunky. This is even more notable when playing on a mobile phone since some of the menus were clearly designed with physical inputs in mind rather than a touchscreen. Once I got used to it, this clunkiness didn't significantly impact my enjoyment of the game.
- The writing in the cutscenes is pretty dry, but the story works in terms of giving each character a little personality and setting up each battle scenario; just don't expect it to keep you on the edge of your seat.
- The music quickly became repetitive. This is a rare case of a game that I played mostly on mute.
Reading this review, it might seem like most of the positive aspects of this game that I've highlighted come with a negative caveat. That might be true, but when you get right down to it, this is a fully-featured portable SRPG for only $5 (USD), and a pretty enjoyable one at that despite a few flaws. If you want something more robust than Fire Emblem Heroes, but not as involved as Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, or Fire Emblem Fates, Mercenaries Saga is definitely worth a look.
Completion Time: 25 hours, 5 minutes
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