Some previous comments on this: Syzygy
-often got constantly lost and had no idea how to progress the story
Do note that SaGa Frontier is, itself, breaking the SaGa mold in terms of its structure. It’s a weird RPG series being deliberately experimental, and it had an awfully messy development with half again as much content cut from the game right before shipping. So— getting lost in that one isn’t that surprising.
-never really got the hang of how to make my characters better (no clear levelling system)
You do want to read the manuals, especially if you aren’t familiar with SaGa conventions like “Sparking”, “LP”, “Human/Mutant/Robot/Beast”.
-enemy and dungeon difficulty would spike rapidly. I would cruise through the enemies in an area and the boss would wipe me in one move
There can be a lot of reasons for this and SaGa is on the challenging end of the RPG spectrum in general, but one thing is: do not grind in SaGa games; Kawazu opposes level grinding and usually puts in systems designed to silently punish it by making the game harder.
-there seems to be little to no agreement on which games in the series are the best or even good
I would dispute this: all SaGa games are good, and most fans consistently point to Romancing SaGa 2 and Minstrel Song as the best of the ‘traditional’ style and Unlimited SaGa as best ‘spinoff’.
(For me it’s Frontier 2.)