Azure Saga: Pathfinder
There is a lot of potential in this JRPG-style title, but Azure Saga: Pathfinder ends up painfully average in almost every way.
When I started playing Azure Saga: Pathfinder I didn’t know what to expect. It is an RPG game created by an Indonesian company that is marketed as an old-school JRPG title.
I soon found out that this JRPG-style game is indeed very old-school. So old-school that it doesn’t dare to change anything in the familiar formula, for better and for worse.
The plot of the game is a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi, similar to the Star Ocean series.
In the beginning, we follow our hero and his loyal android companion as they race towards a planet in a spaceship, to meet the hero’s father. Their spaceship crashes and they find themselves on an alien world where humans are hunted by strange creatures.
From here on, their mission is to find the hero’s dad and return home. As is the standard in this genre, the duo will also find themselves in a pivotal position to affect the planet’s future.
Sadly, the plot doesn’t really capitalize on the combination of fantasy and sci-fi, and you can see important revelations and twists coming a mile away. Also, the moral complexity is at the same level of a Disney film. One side is exceptionally evil, and the other is a misunderstood victim.
Overall, the plot is fairly run-of-the-mill, but a few plot holes surrounding the villains’ ultimate goal prevented me from fully getting into it.
When it comes to the characters in the game, things are also on the average side. The main problem I had is that the game doesn’t spend enough time developing those characters.
Adding extra story segments where the characters talk among themselves about random subjects, like what was going on in in the world or themselves, could have alleviated this problem.
I’m not saying the script needs to be thick with extra dialog, but after finishing it, I can’t tell you anything about the personality of half the cast. It’s quite a shame since some characters have the potential for growth, and are really well designed.
The highlight of Azure Saga: Pathfinder is undoubtedly the combat system.
Battles are quick, and the bosses are challenging. The combat system is the standard fare for RPGs: we control three characters, and in each turn, we choose an action like an attack or a special move. During the battle, we can switch characters freely from the frontline and the reserve. If all the characters in the frontline are knocked out, then it’s game over, which doesn’t make a lot of sense considering they still have their buddies raring to go.
A cool element in battles is how a specific combination of moves create an exceptionally powerful new attack. It’s a bit of a shame that we have to find most of those attacks through trial and error, which can take a lot of time.
My main complaint with the combat system is that it feels too limiting at times. For example, if you revive a character, you cannot heal it in the same round, since the game still registers it as being knocked out. This can create some annoying situations, like reviving a character and hoping the enemy doesn’t attack it and knock it out again before the round is over.
Another problem is character balance, especially when there is only one character that has the incredibly useful ability to restore all the party’s health in a single move (and items that do the same thing are hard to obtain). As you can imagine, this character is a must for any boss battle, which limits your choices.
By the end of the game, I found myself using the same small team with the boring strategy of performing the same attacks and healing everybody each turn.
Outside of battle, you explore dungeons to advance the plot. They aren’t too long, and I haven’t found myself getting lost, but the random enemy encounters can get quite annoying when you just want to trek from point A to point B.
There is the occasional puzzle that suffers from a weak setup or lack of any coherent hints. A particular one comes to mind, where you need to navigate a forest maze with only two clues; the first is incredibly misleading and the second can only be found after completing half the puzzle. The developers intend to patch this puzzle, which is a wise decision.
Another issue I have is that the maps lack some useful details. There are no indications of items, shops or quests. That can be problematic if you missed a key item or looking for a specific quest-giver
When it comes to graphics, the game features pretty detailed artwork during dialogue and charming character and monster models during battle. The fluid animations are pleasant to the eye, and there is decent enemy variety, though a single boss type is hugely overused.
Happily, my year-old laptop could run the whole game perfectly, with no drops in framerate, so you know the game is well optimized and should work on any decent gaming rig.
The music in the game is decent but felt too generic, and I ended up listening to other music while playing. There is no voice acting at all in the game which is a shame, although understandable.
Azure Saga: Pathfinder is a game I’d describe as pretty average. It has a sound basis but a lot of small faults. If the developers take the criticism to heart, they can polish the next game to be pretty darn good as there is a lot of potential there.
The game is about 25 hours long with a few extra hours for completing all side missions and unlocking new dungeons. If you want to play an old-school RPG, then Azure Saga can definitely work for you. However, there are a lot of other games that can better fulfill that need.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.