I always hear that the SaGa games have punishment for people that like to grind and overlevel, which has mostly kept me from checking them out. I'm sure some people like that at the same that means you shouldn't have to grind though, but it's a pretty hard out for me.
Nah, that is legit the biggest misunderstanding about the series. Especially the overleveling part. So like, the way the games work is that enemy scaling and player stats aren't tied together. If you think about most games with level scaling it's just a simple linear progression, you level up, enemies level up. SaGa games don't do that. Instead the series has a mechanic called Battle Rank where the more fights you do the more a number increases. As that number goes up harder enemies start appearing.
The whole punishment misunderstanding comes from the fact that it's technically possible to just keep grinding enemies that don't give very good stat gains while also increasing your BR to the point where enemies you can't handle start appearing. But in practice - it's just never going to happen. To put it in more normal RPG terms think of it like this, you'd have to willingly spend dozens of hours grinding enemies that give you no EXP. Would you ever actually do that in a normal RPG? Because that is how these games are, the only way the game would punish you is because you decided to just fight quite literally hundreds of enemies that weren't making your characters stronger.
It's actually very possible to overlevel if you want, same as any other RPG. They just don't have linear level scaling because it gives you the chance to exploit the game in fun ways you wouldn't be able to in a linear system. For example in SaGa Frontier one of the playable races is robots. Robots do not gain stats from fighting, just from the gear they equip. A chest piece that gives a human +30 defense would instead give a robot something like +30 def +100 HP +20 strength, etc. So with that knowledge you can start a brand new game: run around the world and buy or pick up good equipment, and then stack it on a robot to give them stats good enough for the final boss. All within like 20 minutes of a new game. The thing is, going in blind you wouldn't know that so technically I ruined some of the fun you'd get from going in and figuring that out for yourself. But, that is just one part of the game so I don't really mind, it gets my point across.