(WARNING: Reading this may provide some light spoilers for Sage Fusion 1 if you haven’t already played that game first.)
Last year when up-and-coming developer Kidalang released Sage Fusion (our review), their debut effort – a mixture of Visual Novel, Graphic Adventure, and RPG sensibilities – was met with much praise on our end. It is now approximately two-thirds of a year later, and Yusdi Saliman and crew are back with the gripping conclusion to the many yarns they set about to weaving in their first offering. Today we’re going to take a look at just how well Sage Fusion 2 (out now, $2.99) fares in light of the many accolades we previously heaped upon its solidly-written forerunner.
To recap – for those not familiar – Sage Fusion 2 follows wealthy freelance merchant Marlon Ziglar, and his bodyguard assistant, through the conspiratorial escapades they get caught in the middle of while delivering goods to Capistad. If there was one complaint that could – and often was – levied against the original title, then it would be that – due to how much time was spent building up the world – the plot didn’t really seem to begin until the game was almost over. Sage Fusion – Chapter 2: Children of Deceit – however – avoids all of this by opening on a bang and going full speed from there, what with the burden of setting the stage having already been tackled.
This time around everything you could have possibly been wondering about – slightly concerned over – or intrigued with will all be explored in far more detail, as well as many things you never realized had sinister undertones to begin with. You’ll learn more about the package that Marlon was hired to deliver to Heinlein, more about Alvonse Brin’s mysterious fury and the enigmatic girl observing him, and more about the past of Vientiane Blaise and how she came to be a Tarrant Spy. The game will also give you plenty of things you never dared think you might possibly desire, such as a wholly optional boss fight – set inside an amusement park – where you fight a giant mecha statue from atop a Ferris Wheel. Considering that there is nearly double the story content that was featured in the first chapter of Sage Fusion, you’re definitely going to get your absolute fill of gripping Sci-Fi drama this time around.
In an attempt to accommodate those who haven’t yet played Sage Fusion – Chapter 1: The Phantom of Liberty, the sequel makes an effort to bring new players up to speed through a number of flashbacks. Thankfully all of these flashbacks occur at relevant moments in the plot such that returning players will not question their existence, and will certainly help to refresh returning players on some of the plot’s finer points. Still – as helpful as it is – it’s certainly no replacement for the massive amount of quality world building done in the first title, and so I do seriously recommend that new players consider starting there.
By the way, the same Super Mario RPG inspired battle engine – still sans EXP, Gold, or random encounter grinding – has returned completely intact from the original Sage Fusion outing. In it – the same as last time – players have to tap a shield icon precisely just before it either disappears to maximize damage dished out, or to minimize incoming damage received. The damage blocked once more fills up each character’s individual Action Point gauge, with AP being the currency that determines which actions – or items – that a hero qualifies to use each round.
While Sage Fusion 2 certainly has an array of epic and gripping battles (see above mention of giant mecha fight), Kidalang’s second outing is still primarily about its plot first and foremost. It is still not uncommon to see long chunks of text – presented in a Visual Novel esque format – at every turn in the game’s plot, making the title more suited to at home play than gaming on the go. However – as I previously mentioned – this time everything is far more tense with the heat constantly being on as the heroes race to learn the full details of Hoder and Corosso’s plan, before the corrupt duo bring about the collapse of the Union. Along the way some legitimate philosophical questions will be raised about artificial intelligences, the nature of democracy, the ethics of cloning, the dependability of man, and what exactly right and wrong truly are.
All of this writing is once more presented with a virtually flawless topnotch delivery, making the Sage Fusion series still one of the most amazing pieces of literature that you can get on an iOS device that doesn’t take the form of an eBook. All of this is perhaps even more impressive when you consider that the game essentially came from a three man team located in Indonesia, with absolutely no middleman being used to translate the title into English. Hopefully these master story tellers, whom refer to themselves as the Honorable Puppet Masters, will manage to stay in business so that they might present us with more masterfully crafted tales of intrigue in the years to come.
The only downside this time around is that – keeping line with the fact that this is the part of the plot where the proverbial shit hits the fan – Sage Fusion 2 has a large number of rather trying boss fights in it, all of which take place at the end of a lengthy conversation. If Kidalang were to consider making a revised update of Sage Fusion 2’s code, I would suggest moving these checkpoints to right when the actual fighting starts so that it becomes far less stressful if you don’t finish a boss fight until the third try. While you’ll also probably be sad to the see the cast of heroes go when the credits finally roll, that is not exactly a complaint on the matter of anything Kidalang needs to be tweaking.
I would like now to take a moment to close this review by discussing how Sage Fusion 2 looks, and – visually speaking – the game is once again the same treat that its predecessor was before it. The lush hand drawn artwork – which simultaneously combines the sensibilities of both Graphic Adventure and Visual Novel games – is back in full force, this time taking players to whole new places. Some of these new locales include a floating factory in outer space – a temple on the planet of Tan Dessem – and the ever dreaded Centrum Compassio, a place of horrors that was only hinted at in the first outing.
iFanzine Verdict: The sequel to Kidalang’s Sage Fusion – which has been delivered with twice the story content of the original – provides you with everything a fan of the first stellar outing could have ever hoped for, and then some more. Unfettered by the world-building need the first title had, this time around the heavily story driven RPG has far more gripping narrative as everyone rushes to stop Hoder and Corosso’s plan before it’s too late. The only downside is – keeping in line with the fact that this is where the plot gets serious – there are many difficult battles in the story’s back half, most of which have a checkpoint that dumps you back to just before a cut scene – rather than the fight itself – should you fail.