SaGa Emerald Beyond Review – Repetition not for the faint-hearted

Reviewed May 16, 2024 on PS5


PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5


April 25, 2024


Square Enix


Square Enix

Five teams of characters and five trips across multiple worlds. It sounds like a great adventure with several possibilities, enticing you to return and re-experience the story to see different endings. Jumping across worlds and carrying over your experience allows SaGa Emerald Beyond to stay with you in a way that other adventures can’t. Even after completing all five stories, there’s always another reason to jump back in.

By introducing a complex combat system with several aspects, you choose fighting styles that work for you. Multiple endings encourage you to replay stories and do something differently for new outcomes. Carrying over your experience makes each playthrough easier, letting you overcome challenges that previously stumped you. However, this means the game demands repetition and lots of combat concepts aren’t explained. SaGa Emerald Beyond is a great experience, but its nature also means it’s not for everyone.

SaGa Emerald Beyond has five different stories that focus on five different groups. Whether it’s a puppet master restoring a barrier or two cops apprehending a criminal, each story is unique. It lets you see how each character views different cultures, experiences, and events. The freedom to choose how you experience a story can be exciting because there’s no right or wrong answer. If you want to make a different choice, you can always replay the story.

None of the worlds are too large or difficult to explore. You can scan a world when you arrive to see the places you can visit. A line guides you to each destination, helping you find the paths you must take. More complex paths are easy to travel around and the game doesn’t hide them. This makes it easy to find your destination without constantly getting lost and it serves as a convenient map.

Replaying stories is a key part of the game’s appeal. When you first start a story, there are different choices you can make and enemies you can’t beat. As you complete more stories, gain more experience, and acquire better equipment, more choices are available to you. Enemies that previously blocked certain paths can be overcome. Revisiting a story and overcoming a powerful obstacle is rewarding and motivates you to replay every possibility.

“It’s time-consuming if you want to uncover the game’s depths and it’s not always worth the effort.”

However, replaying stories is also SaGa Emerald Beyond’s double-edged sword. Since you can’t fully explore a story and uncover all the possibilities the first time, you exhaust yourself with each replay. There’s no option to skip text you have already seen or battles that you have already fought. The ending differences aren’t always significant enough to justify a replay, making several experiments almost worthless. It’s time-consuming if you want to uncover the game’s depths and it’s not always worth the effort.

Another important part of the game is the combat system. It’s turn-based and you can see all allies and enemies on a timeline. Your moves can shift positions on the timeline, inflict status ailments, or protect your allies. It’s possible to surprise enemies with interrupt moves, counter-attacks, or move after the first attacker. There’s a lot of strategy that revolves around a combo system that is crucial to your success.

Every character story you investigate has its own team of fighters. None of them are the same, letting you experience different styles of combat. Some are all-around fighters, others learn enemy moves, and a few even convert enemies to foes. This prevents combat from going stale by giving you a unique challenge with every story. As you master combat with each group, you learn how to utilise everyone’s advantages.

The complexity of the combat system lets you choose how you fight battles. Do you want to focus on combos or play a defensive game? Are you fighting aerial enemies or fast opponents? If you know what comes next, you can strategise and defeat your enemy before they can do real harm. That flexibility also means you aren’t limited to certain battle strategies. While some work better than others, it always depends on the situation. This encourages an environment of experimentation, where you discover different ways to take down enemies.

The combat system suffers from a glaring flaw: a lack of explanations. While there is lots of information found in the Glossary and Tips page, you learn primarily through trial-by-fire. Pursuits and counterattacks are never named and conditions are rarely started. You must figure out several aspects by yourself, figuring out what enemies can do through repeated experiments. Even the act of stringing combos together is something you learn on your own rather than through a tutorial.

While the game does have an introductory tutorial, it barely scratches the surface of combat. You aren’t properly prepared after the first few fights take place. Information like Interrupts requiring certain conditions, status ailment information, and other important facts are left out. This makes combat more painful than necessary and proper tutorials could fix that. There are some trials that outline some missing information, but it’s not always clear what they refer to.

The emphasis on replays and a lack of information makes SaGa Emerald Beyond a tough choice. It succeeds in what it sets out to do, but players who aren’t looking for tedious repeats should go elsewhere. Players who enjoy learning on the go and replaying a story multiple times will enjoy themselves. Turn-based strategic experts will have lots to work with thanks to the combat system. But for everyone else, you may struggle to get attached to this game because it feels like homework to explore everything.

SaGa Emerald Beyond has great potential and it can be entertaining. The stories don’t overstay their welcome and have several endings for you to explore. Combat is strategic, forcing you to learn and think before you fight. Replay value actually matters because you can overcome obstacles that were initially too tough and explore new paths. However, the game has several endings that require multiple playthroughs and it’s taxing to uncover them all. It’s tough to learn everything you need as well. Be cautious when you pick up the game because if you don’t like strategy and repeated playthroughs, this game isn’t for you.




  • Five unique stories that don't run too long
  • Combat system provides several strategic options
  • Replay value from conquering past obstacles


  • Can't skip text which makes repeat playthroughs tiring
  • Lots of information isn't explained to you
  • Emphasis on replaying is draining

SaGa Emerald Beyond provides an engaging RPG that takes you through five different stories and a complex battle system. By replaying stories and carrying over your experience, you can overcome previously insurmountable obstacles and view different endings. However, the emphasis on repetition and lack of information make this a hard game to master. You’ll need to enjoy replaying stories multiple times and learning on the job to get real enjoyment out of the experience.