Legend of Legacy
If you’ve arrived at this page, it means you’re thinking about purchasing Legend of Legacy – before you settle in to read the following 1000 or so words, I implore you to fire up your 3DS and begin downloading the very generous demo on the eShop – at 2300 blocks, it might even be finished when you’re done here! With that out of the way, it’s time to size up developer FuRyu’s latest offering.
Published by Atlus, Legend of Legacy is a turn based RPG which harkens back to the SaGa Frontier series, combining gorgeous watercolour backgrounds with deformed Chibi style 3D characters to create a visual aesthetic that still manages to impress on ageing 3DS hardware. To top this off, SaGa Frontier composer Masashi Hamazu himself has been brought on board to supply an upbeat score that manages to be enjoyable during play but sadly unmemorable outside of the game itself.
Legend of Legacy features the most wafer-thin of storylines – The King of Adventurers has recently rediscovered the mysterious island of Avalon and promptly decided it’s time to retire, leaving further exploration in the hands of the player who must choose between one of 8 protagonists before setting out. After mulling it over, I eventually chose the lady knight Garnet only to feel a bit let down when the majority of the other selectable characters were added to my party within the first few hours of play.
It became apparent very quickly that what Legend of Legacy lacked in narrative, it made up for in grinding – in fact, Legend of Legacy is the most grind heavy JRPG I’ve played in quite some time. With little story incentive to keep players moving forward, the enjoyment players get of this title will be very dependent on their attitude towards field exploration, map completion and the battle system.
By thoroughly exploring field areas, you’ll complete a map of the area which can be sold to a merchant in the island’s sole town of Initium. The catch is that whilst you can sell your map at any point, complete or no – more detailed maps sell for a higher price than incomplete maps. What makes running around like a madman busily completing maps frustrating is the multitude of enemies infesting every area that will chase down the player once spotted. I know this is a staple of the genre, but I have very little patience these days for the constant “WHOOSH!” of a turn based battle system. It’s a small comfort that foes do not appear randomly and can be avoided with a bit of work, but this should only be done sparingly as battling is essential to making any sort of progression.
There are many elements to combat in Legacy of Legacy that help differentiate it from run-of-the-mill turn based systems, not all of them necessarily good. Most notable from the outset is the implementation of HP in Legend of Legacy, which replenishes after each battle; a quick-save system that almost seems to encourage save-scumming and an escape option which returns you to the entrance of the current area with no penalty. These are capped of by a bizarre RNG based levelling system – rather than earn good old fashioned Experience Points and scrimp your way to new levels and abilities, Legend of Legacy bestows new abilities and stat points randomly during battle, with the difficulty of the enemy acting as a sort of multiplier to the chance of this occuring. The moves a character will learn are also tied to the currently equipped weapon and the use of currently known moves. If your head is swimming, take a breath – this is only the edge of the rabbit hole that is Legend of Legacy’s battle system.
While other JRPG’s pay lip service to positioning and occasionally allow placement of characters in the front or back row, Legend of Legacy goes all out with Formations and Stances. These denote the role a character will take and are crucial to efficiency and efficacy. By choosing Stances such as Attack, Guard and Support players can create and configure Formations to suit their playstyle and the predisposition of their characters. It’s no use having a character suited to a Support role stuck in an Attack stance and vice versa. Further Stances are unlocked as areas are conquered, some more useful than others depending on overall battle strategy. Now that levelling and character placement are suitably confusing, you’re probably wondering “What about an equally convoluted magic system?”
No JRPG is complete without magic – FuRyu knows this, and so does it’s best to incorporate a system that is as tedious as the other parts of combat . Know here as Elements, FuRyu have gone with the classics: Water, Fire and Air. In order to access Elements, players must first find and equip Shards that will give access to elemental abilities – but that’s not the end of it. Players must also establish a “contract” with the elemental spirits of an area before these abilities can be used, done through the use of a move in-battle. Of course, enemies have no such requirement and can use elements willy-nilly regardless of contract. What this means in practice is that during some battles, one character might be dedicated solely to keeping up, for example, an air elemental contract in order for other characters to use air abilities – if an enemy uses an ability of another element like fire, the contract is lost and any subsequent air abilities will fail until the contract is renewed.
If you’ve made it this far, one thing should be abundantly clear: Legend of Legacy is a demanding game in terms of both focus and time. While it requires a large amount of grinding, that tactic alone will by no means allow players to steamroll through the game unless they have a thorough understanding of Formations, Stances and Elements. While it may be the perfect game for a particular type of player, most mainstream JRPG fans will find the flimsy storyline and repetitive gameplay hard to look past despite luscious visuals and audio. If you followed my suggestion at the start of the review and are a particularly slow reader, you should have Atlus’ generous demo ready to unwrap on the Home screen of your 3DS. Rather than just take my word for it, why not fire it up and see if Legend of Legacy is your cup of tea?