The entire point of Metal Saga is the entire lack of story. It’s the kind of game that people had wet dreams about during the PS1 era when everyone was salivating to the idea of no-linear video games. The experiences ends up being half Dungeon and Dragons and half original Final Fantasy, and on paper the game somehow managed to take the worst part of both of those games and combine it into something that almost worked.
So early in the game the player is introduced to this odd group of outlaws that are exploring the wasteland looking for remains of the past civilization, which is super common for all of these post apocalyptic worlds. The effort is even made to have them show up several times through a couple of the dungeons, throwing in an hint that they may be import later in the game. Then, out of directly no-where, they decide to rob a train and the player kills them. No explanation, no closing statements about why they went from Lara Croft style ruin exploring for ancient bio-tech goods to robbing a freakin’ train. It just happens and the player chases them to the top of the train, of course, and fights them to the death. No reasoning given.
Although it is entirely possible that the game has a deep reasoning for this happening and I just managed to miss it. Most of the plot to half of the stories takes place by taking to people inside of the town, which the game manages to discourage by having rather long load times and many characters in the same area say the same exact boring crap over and over again– so after the fifth time loading a room and having someone in a train car telling me that they better eat their lunch before it goes bad I simply stopped talking to people entirely.
Most of the direction of the game is given in the way of a wanted enemy hit list given at the hunter’s guild counters, basically boss creatures that are out in the world somewhere. With very few exceptions almost none of these monsters have any back story or reason to take them out, they are simply creatures floating around the world with bounties on their head to be killed. Although when there is an exception it is so odd and borderline insanely terrible that it almost breaks the flow of the entire game.
In one of the corners of the map there is a small, very clearly Japanese style, town. The way that it is set up is so that all of the stores are at the very front of the town, including the hunter’s guild. At the very back of the town, four screen away (which means four load screens), is the mayor of the town that explains that the Orchi monster has been eating all of the young women of the town. There is some minor story given before he mentions that his daughter might be next and that a hunter has already attempted to kill it and is being nursed back to health in the other room. The only problem is that his daughter never mentions anything about being eaten and the other hunter is nowhere to be found.
Basically this ends up being the main feel of any of the plot in the game, when plot is given it is half super vague with not nearly enough information and the other half is just that person giving information that makes no sense. The vague parts for this is filled in with my expert knowledge of Japan gained through watching anime, as I know who Orchi is.
Turns out he is a god that shows up every couple of hundred years and starts to mess with the world until a hero comes and basically destroys the crap out of him. As the story seems to go every time Orchi appears people think the world is about to end, but it never does cause I guess Orchi doesn’t have any follow through. Also he is never killed, as he is a Japanese god and simply immortal, and just takes a beating and goes back to sleep. Although none of this is ever explained in the game, and all of my knowledge is gained from other sources. I really don’t think this is an example of bad localization as much as that team being truthful to the programmers that where clearly institutionalized after the creation of this game.
At one point in the game I saved an entire town of orphans, which seems to be a recurring theme in Japanese games when the plot slows or dies and they need to drive home the point the player really is a hero, and was told after that I could send gifts to the town. This wasn’t the first time that I was told I could send gifts somewhere, as a matter of fact I am pretty sure it was around the tenth time I had been told such a thing. The only problem is that the game never actually states how that is done. Interesting that after almost 20 hours of play I am still not sure I can do half the stuff the game told me I could.
Although after all of this time in the game I have sort of figured out one key feature that seems to be true (although the fact I have since reverted to using guides to help me figure out what the hell is going on sped this discovery along too), the game pretty much always wants the player to continue moving westward. I don’t know if this is an analogy for America’s expansion, or if it just happened to fit into the open-ended-ness of the game.