In hindsight, I should’ve played Clarent Saga before I played the Team Syukino games. This would’ve been a much better first impression for SRPG Studio. Not to mention: it’s free!

Clarent Saga: Tactics was released in 2017 and solo-developed by David Nguyen. In January of this year, David’s also released Clarent Saga: Chronicles, which looks like a classic Final Fantasy clone. It looks good, but it’s not the sort of game to be featured on this website, so let’s talk about Clarent Saga: Tactics instead.

Clarent Saga is split up into three parts where you control three different armies: Chapters 1-7, Chapters 8-18, and Chapters 19-37. We’ll start from the very beginning.

Behold: growth rates! I wasn’t previously aware that SRPG Studio was capable of displaying these. 

At the start of the game, you’re prompted with whether or not you want to view the tutorial. I viewed it out of curiosity and found it’s extremely comprehensive, spelling out every little detail in every menu. Clarent Saga also has a difficulty selector, with the easiest difficulty being excessively easy. Saving during battle is possible, too. Add to all this the ability to buy “Cheat” items from the menu, and you get a SRPG which is very friendly to SRPG newbies.

Yet, it also offers quite a bit for SRPG veterans, particularly fans of Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War.

“Sigurd the Holy Knight.” Does this ring a bell?

Several characters in Clarent Saga are named after FE4 characters. These are fun little allusions for any diehard fans of FE4 (like me). 

In many other ways, Clarent Saga clearly follows in the footsteps of FE4. There’s a dark cult which sacrifices children, like the Loptyr Cult in FE4. The head honcho of that cult manipulates several events in the story, like Manfroy in FE4. There’s a woman who has children by two different men, thereby affecting the events of the story like Deirdre in FE4. There are holy weapons that only certain characters can use, like the Balmung, Tyrfing, Gae Bolg, and Yewfelle in FE4. 

Oh yes, in Generation 2 (Chapters 19-37), you get new characters who will turn out differently depending on your romantic pairings in Generation 1 (Chapters 1-18).

Clarent Saga is, in many respects, a copy of FE4. You could criticize it for being derivative, but I quite enjoyed it, personally. If there’s anything Clarent Saga shows us, it’s that the general formula of FE4 is so damn strong that you can copy it, water it down, and still end up with an enjoyable game.

Another game which it seems to copy is Langrisser 1, although this influence is only present for one arc of the story. In Chapter 8, you start with two characters who need to escape to the north end of the castle. Tell me: doesn’t this map look really familiar?

We escape Castle Baldea Meyr. For the next battle, we meet a traveling girl named Chris Ami and need to fight our way north to the village of Salrath Belsar. Later, Narm Athena, who guarded the right side of Castle Baldea Meyr, comes to deliver us the bad news that Baldea Meyr has fallen, and then joins our party. After we return to Baldea Meyr, we have to defeat Xeld Gawain. Emerging victorious, we find that the Dalsis Pherrelios Empire has stolen Langrisser Excalibur, and then we recruit Taylor and Jessica Ragnar and Anne who were imprisoned. However, it turns out that Xeld Gawain had a lover named Celia Zeke, so we now have to defeat her him.

…I could do likewise for the rest of the story and its parallels to FE4 but I won’t, as that would be too tedious. You get the idea; Clarent Saga’s influences are clear as day. Personally, I loved these allusions because FE4 and Langrisser 1 are both some of my favorite games I’ve ever played.

In other news, the translation is good, but does have several noticeable mistakes. The good news is that none of them made the game unintelligible,.

On the negative, Clarent Saga’s maps are rather small, and it has an unfortunate tendency to reuse them. I counted at least four battles on the same Castle Meyr map. Several other battlefields are used for at least three battles each. Even if Clarent Saga has 37 chapters total, many maps are rehashes of earlier ones, so the game ends up feeling a bit repetitive.

I also feel that Clarent Saga didn’t quite capture the magic of FE4’s game theory. While often criticized for its map design, FE4 nonetheless offered a few things that Clarent Saga did not:

  1. Rankings at the end of the game like “Tactics” and “Exp” which encouraged intelligent, resourceful play. 
  2. Larger scope, resulting in battles which felt like adventures. 
  3. Challenging enemies who would wield holy weapons, like Eltshan, Langbalt, Blume, Ishtar, and Brian, all of whom would appear on the battlefield, alongside regular castle bosses.
  4. Side objectives, or multiple fights taking place concurrently, like in Chapter 3 (Lionheart Eltshan) or Chapter 7 (Across the Desert).
  5. The castle base, where you could access the pawnbroker and the arena. 

While Clarent Saga does abide by the FE4 philosophy of large groups of enemies who swarm you one squadron at a time, its maps end up feeling less fulfilling and consequential because of these factors. It follows heavily in the footsteps of FE4, and as good as it is, it’s nowhere as deep or complicated. 

Story-wise, Clarent Saga doesn’t ever eclipse FE4. At times, it comes close to matching FE4, but inevitably, it always ends up falling short. Its support conversations are good, and it did a nice job with character continuity, i.e. having characters from Generation 1 reappear in Generation 2. But perhaps due to its blatantly derivative nature, the story is quite predictable to anyone who’s played FE4. 

There’s also this shoehorned idea of time travel during Generation 2. This made no sense at all; there was no reason for time travel to be brought into the game’s narrative.

Behold: a bonus map!

Clarent Saga has a bit of post-game, with extra bonus maps once you’ve beaten the main story. I’m personally not very interested in these. What grabs my eye is the higher difficulty levels; I might have to replay the game on Very Hard eventually. Between the difficulty modes and the different romantic pairing options for Generation 1, Clarent Saga has a good bit of replay value. 

Especially for a free game!

Clarent Saga’s ending screen

This is some of the most fun I’ve had with a SRPG this entire year so far. I loved Clarent Saga! Any game which combines Langrisser with FE4 knows how to make me happy.

Subjective biases aside, I need to reiterate that Clarent Saga didn’t do as much with its maps as it could’ve. In particular, I don’t see any excuse for the extensive reusing of certain maps. Additionally, Clarent Saga never truly escapes the shadow of FE4. Does it ever do anything unique which distinguishes itself from FE4? No, I don’t think so. 

While it’s a very well-designed clone, it’s still a clone. I believe clones can be good, but if I’m being fair, I can only rank them so high. That being said, I’d nevertheless recommend Clarent Saga and Conviction, another SRPG which obviously copies the formula of another one of my favorite SRPGs. David Nguyen did a great job with Clarent Saga and showcasing SRPG Studio’s capabilities. I hope that, if he develops more games, he’ll continue to demonstrate this work ethic while also incorporating some original, fresh ideas.

General Information
Year: 2017
Console: Windows, Mac
Developer: David Nguyen
Get the game for free here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/709670/Clarent_Saga_Tactics/

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Anarch16Sync
1 month ago

Interesting, it seems the game got a lot of improvements since when I played it. The exploration wasn’t there back then, same with some UI things, or the choise in love interest on the first Gen.
Also story wise, when I played the plot was there but the writing was really bad, too rushed and didn’t make sense in a lot of parts, like it was a trope/reference checklist more than a script…
But even so, I don’t think I would play it again, the amount of map reuse was a big negative for
me, and that hasn’t changed sadly.

I’m glad to see you’re giving more Srpg Studio games a chance, specially after starting with that awful experience of the Falnarion games.

Anarch16Sync
Reply to  Harvester of Eyes
1 month ago

Yeah, right now games get posted all over on different places, there is good amount on Itch, then on Fire Emblem Universe or Serene Forest, on Steam most of the Srpg studio games are japanese or chinese, and well, if they are translated is probably machine translation levels of quality, that is sad because I have seen some interesting looking ones… but the lenguage barrier is too big.

David Nguyen
1 month ago

Hi,

I am the author of Clarent Saga! Thank you very much for your coverage of my game.
I really like your review. You really point out well my influence. I acknowledge there are still many flaws and it doesn’t reach the level of TRPG cult classics. But I find the game fun and enjoyable, and I am also glad that people have fun with it. I think the best SRPG Studio game available is Vestaria Saga.

Jess
Jess
1 month ago

I appreciated your comments on the story! David brought me onto the project last year to revamp the narrative and expand it from the original script, so I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it 💚 Thanks for playing the game!

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