Some of the SaGa games can feel intimidating. Running out of viable party members can be, if characters run out of too many life points (LP). Innocent decisions can come back to haunt you. Acquiring new skills comes from participating in battle and hoping for glimmers of inspiration. While the early Game Boy installments, released outside of Japan as the Final Fantasy Legend games, were welcoming, more recent ones can require a bit more effort. Then, there’s SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions, an entirely new entry that can easily be enjoyed even if you’ve never played an installment before.
Part of its welcoming nature comes from how SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions brings people into the adventure. There are four different stories to follow. An introductory quiz attempts to pair you up with Balmaint, Leonard, Taria, or Urpina. But, once that is done, you could go ahead and choose exactly which protagonist you want to control. Both Balmaint and Urpina come off as traditional JRPG heroes. Each one has a set goal to accomplish and reason to get stronger, which can mean more structure to their adventures than Leonard and Taria.
This isn’t to say the other two won’t give you a nudge. For example Taria almost immediately gets a Phoenix Feather that can be used as a reminder of where you are supposed to go. It is more that SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions offers two that have stories that might better fall in line initially with people’s expectations and help them ease into the game, while Leonard’s story is incredibly open and Taria’s expects you to figure out how to make the best use of a mage right away.
Another benefit that works in someone’s favor is how forgiving SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions can be. One thing it does, but doesn’t tell you, is give you the option to adjust the difficulty level of its encounters. If you think it is too hard, you can drop it down to “weak” for a while. Another positive is how clear it is about the difficulty and number of stages you will see in battles. If you are going to enter a location with engagements, the game tells you how many fights there will be and how difficult each one is. It will also let you see which enemies will appear, objectives to earn rewards, and give you a chance to swap out members of your retinue for your current party. A lot of information is given to you at once, so you aren’t going into any encounter unaware.
The SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions LP system can be considerate too. It might be terrifying to see those numbers get into the red and dip down. Fortunately, running out of LP isn’t the end. When a character is the reserves and not an active party member, they will regain one LP for every two battles you fight. There are locations in each characters’ story that will have monsters respawn, which gives you a chance to help people regroup. As you go about your journey, you could also come across places that immediately restore everyone’s LP. For example, one of the hot springs in the Thracini area will do the trick, and Megdasse has a mandragora that can restore the party. (Be careful about the mandragoras, though! Two of the three there will reduce all LP by one.) If someone’s LP does run out, then seven battles later they will be back good as new. There are even in-game Rescue Parties that show up if you are in big trouble.
But the real MVP in SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions is its Tips section. It shouldn’t even go by “Tips” in the main menu. Its real name should be Required Reading. While it doesn’t tell you helpful tips like “don’t reforge a weapon until you’ve learned all of the skills you can from it” or “make sure you have a mage ASAP, because you will regret it in the late game if you don’t,” it does cover everything critical you need to know and helps you start paying attention to things like your current party formation or experimenting to find new roles.
SaGa games can be unconventional, with the way they give people freedom to decide what to do and when and how characters grow based on their actions. There is a lot to take in with every installment. While SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions is a huge game with tons of (occasionally loaded) decisions, it is one that tries to be considerate. There are four heroes to choose from, with two that might feel a little more conventional initially and two that are a little more different. It is clear about presenting information, so you have an idea of what you will be getting into with every fight. Recovering LP isn’t too harrowing. Plus, it has an assortment of tips there, ready to help you start off on the right foot.