Normally when doing a game impression, we try to play the game for at least ten hours before we write one up. I didn't have that much time with Crimson Gem Saga before I had to ship it out to our reviewer in Canada, so I only got about three or four hours in. So while I can't speak to every aspect of the game in depth, I did get to experience a little of everything. Also, a quick aside to anyone looking at this game with fear because they've heard that it's the sequel to Astonishia Story and heard the first game was horrid: you need to know that these two games are so far apart it's like night and day. Crimson Gem Saga has a totally different developer and whatever ties IronNos had in mind when placing it in the Astonishia series at least doesn't put it anywhere close to that nightmare.
"Crimson Gem Saga is a traditional RPG with some beautiful artwork, lots of detailed character animations, and a localization that seems to have been handled with the utmost care."
Crimson Gem Saga is pretty and beautifully detailed. From the Korean character artwork to the in-game models of people and buildings, everything looks great. One thing that really stood out to me was the amount of attention the developer put into the character battle movements, as it was hard to miss the excessive bouncing of Spinel's assets even in the mini character model. I'm not trying to say that Crimson Gem Saga is all about the T&A appeal like some other Atlus-published titles, it was just one of the more noticeable areas of how graphically detailed this game is.
While I can't really say much about the game's overall plot, as I just got to the game's first major event, the localization of this game truly shines as one of its strongest areas. Be it in interaction with trivial NPCs or during event dialogue featuring story characters, Atlus has done a wonderful job of giving this game a chance at being entertaining even if the story doesn't pan out (like I said, I was only a few hours in). The addition of voiced dialogue is solid, so that's a nice bonus Spoil there.
Crimson Gem Saga's battle system is classic turn-based fare with on screen enemies to engage or attempt to avoid at your own risk. If you get the jump on an enemy before they see you, you will get a bonus attack on the group before your turn even starts. If you're caught from behind though, the enemies will deal some heavy damage on your party, possibly even killing you before the round even starts. It's a plus that you can save anywhere, so as long as you're careful you shouldn't have too much trouble, at least to start with. When I had to pass the game on, I had two party members and each could perform special attacks on their own or a more powerful team combo. Character development is left to the player, as skills can be unlocked and then learned through the use of skill points. One frustration was that the game requires a large number of skill points to even see what the hidden skill is going to be and then even more to gain access to that skill. A minor frustration that a little "save, trial, error, reload" process helped me work around, but it still seems a bit arbitrary.
Overall, Crimson Gem Saga is a traditional RPG with some beautiful artwork, lots of detailed character animations, and a localization that seems to have been handled with the utmost care. The battle system seems solid, but isn't really groundbreaking. For those wanting a fun, turn-based RPG on the PSP with a bit of a challenge to it, Crimson Gem Saga might be the game for them. Don't go in expecting a ton of new and unique gameplay elements, but do expect a top notch, though tongue-in-cheek, translation from Atlus.