A diamond in a LOT of rough.
It has been a while since I played a traditional JRPG. In the mid 90’s to way into the mid 2000’s, Japanese role playing games reigned supreme. They were the games to beat back then, with tons coming in a variety of flavors and difficulties. It was an interesting time. Every once in a blue moon, we get a JRPG that goes back to form – something that reminds us of the games of yester year. Sometimes it’s met with nostalgia, sometimes it shows us how far we’ve come in the role playing game genre. The Legend of Legacy does a bit of both.
Created by an all-star cast of developers from various series like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy XIII, and where most of the influence comes from, the SaGa series, The Legend of Legacy hopes to take players back to a time where JRPGs were dominant. And in reality, they do a pretty good job with it in that sense.
Price I’d pay: $20
Multiple lives, multiple journeys.
Taking place on a newly awakened island, Avalon, players first choose which character to play as through the story. Much like a SaGa game, the game can be told through multiple perspectives depending on who the player chose. Stories will intertwine a bit, but not much. Players will eventually get a full party and reserves consisting of the other main characters they didn’t choose. Depending on the character, motivations for coming to Avalon will become more apparent through exploration and interactions with others.
The combat is reminiscent of the SaGa series as well as other games. It revolves around different stances to choose from at the beginning of each turn. Some may be all out attacks, while others may focus on one party member defending the other two. Depending on the situation, players must strategize on which stance to choose. Defending is always a great option, because this game is not easy by any means. Even a powerful party can be devastated by normal fights. Players need to create a party that suits multiple situations. Having a power hitter for attacks and a good defender for defensive stances is a must. Healers and magic attackers help with multiple things, especially boss fights. The game also utilizes a special elemental mechanic where certain characters can increase the elemental affinity in the area, which boosts certain magic attacks. A higher water affinity in an area/fight, the stonger the water attacks.
Funny level up.
One thing that sets it apart from other JRPGs is the leveling system. Unlike traditional RPGs, The Legend of Legacy has attacks and abilities level up rather than the character. The more a character uses a certain attack, the stronger it will become. Same goes for certain stats like attack, defense, HP and SP. All go up over time after battles. While that works, it quickly becomes difficult to determine when or how much longer until another stat will level up. This made gauging when I was ready for a boss fight almost impossible at times.
One very interesting mechanic is the fact that when a character goes down in battle, they don’t “stay dead or knocked out.” In fact, after each battle, all party members are restored to full health. Only if a character does fall in battle their maximum hit points are slightly reduced until the party goes back to town to rest. This makes exploration more simple and less of a resource grind.
One rather annoying issue I had with the game was the lack of direction. There was no big story plot or anything hinting at where to go or even what I was supposed to be doing. I was left to my own devices and was told to go and explore and return to the king after I had done a bit more.
Explore, but be careful.
Speaking of exploration, The Legend of Legacy seems to fall more on this than actual story bits. Like in an Etrian Odyssey, players are tasked with filling out a map of each area. By just moving around an area will fill out the map, this seemed to be the main goal of the early hours of the story. Exploration is rewarded with full maps that can be sold for a pretty penny in town. There is one drawback to exploration – unexpected boss fights. Far too many times, I was minding my own business, filling out maps, and doing standard encounters when out of nowhere, a boss fight would begin in a certain area. I had no idea there was going to be one, and the game never hinted at them either. It was just time for a boss fight since I just so happened to wander into the wrong area. Like I said before, this game is not easy, and the boss fights are a big part of that. Luckily, there is a quick save feature that allows me to save and keep playing in the event I hit one of those surprise boss fights. I ended up moving about half the map screen and saving each time.
I loved the visual and audio art style of the game. The characters’ looks and the way areas popped in and out as I traveled around them really made the game come alive and made the 3D effect actually matter in lot of ways. The soundtrack, done by the Final Fantasy XIII composer, is fantastic and adds a lot to the overall feel of the game.
I feel so torn with The Legend of Legacy. I really liked the combat mechanics and the way it handled exploration, but with the difficulty spikes with the boss fights and slightly clunky leveling mechanic, it made it a chore to actually grind for fights. That, on top of poor communication when it can to navigation and where to actually go next left me wandering around until my next boss fight. For the hardcore JRPG fans, There’s some good to be had here but only if you’re willing to wade though some pretty rough mechanics and difficulty.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.