Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Legrand Legacy
I don’t know how to explain Legrand Legacy. It is sometimes the visual novel with characters that frown and delight in the progression of the story. It is sometimes the RPGMaker project of your youth, that mimicked your favourite JRPG moments so that you could experience them again. It is sometimes the expansive canvas of the larger world, lovingly painted in your imagination and realised in your vision. It is sometimes the tactical event that makes your fingers covet the keyboard in anticipation of the next button’s perfect strike.
And in the culmination of its parts, assembled by Indonesian developer Semisoft, it is the love letter that was written for the classic Japanese RPGs. Final Fantasy, Suikoden, and even Xenogears were infused into its biology and the result is an offspring that doesn’t so much dash out of the gate as skip innocently into the worldview. For a small developer, it is a marvel, but it also shows that it does take a village.
The initial opening sequence is dated in its graphical quality, but still delivers an interesting premise to Finn – a slave who is sent out to fight in the gladiator arena, and in that moment resonates with an aspect of his primal self. It is certainly worthy of Playstation 1 cutscenes (someone cue Final Fantasy 8), but Semisoft reminds us that this is a new entity and there is a lot more buried in that first cutscene than we realise. Semisoft cleverly sets up some of the key assets in the game – the tactical wheel that takes the form of an iris and the threat of a supernatural element to Finn’s combat abilities. Others see worth in Finn’s talents, and even more in how he values others. I would argue that there are some aspects of Finn’s story that occur a little too early for me to truly value their implications, but he provides a solid foundation as you encounter other characters with more prominent personality traits as you delve into a plot a lot larger than traversing a desert.
The tactical combat develops dishes out experience points for your successes, but it makes you work for them differently and it definitely challenges you to make something of them. Your accrual of XP is not only reliant on the level of the enemy that you encounter – it is also reliant on pressing a button on the keyboard or controller so that the marker lands in a certain highlighted area on the circular dial. The more times that you land the marker in the “good” or “perfect” section of the dial, the more XP you accrue. In addition, gone are the days where you buff a key character stat and hope for another party member to compliment it – each level provides you with points that you allocate to your stats in order to unlock new elemental abilities or buffs/debuffs. Other typical strategic assets (such as elemental bonuses and weapon triangles) complement these tactical elements, making each battle not only unique but vital to pay attention to.
All of these components are woven into a tapestry of locations peppered across a map that is more painting than cartography. A lot of care is taken to make landscapes immersive (reminding me of games like Bravely Default that pan out to a larger frame when the player sits idly), and even more care is taken in animating characters consistently. While Legrand Legacy cannot hold a candle to eighth generation consoles, the art style does remind me of a very polished isometric CRPG, and the difference is noticeable in the indie developer market where RPGs have been a prominent (and consistently well-funded) game genre in the last 5 years.
I love that Legrand Legacy challenges itself to be something a little bit different while also reaching for a long-lost emotional connection to the games that it loved. It has a reasonable polish in the beta build and holds more promise for release. There was only one thing that disappointed me, and they were things that only made me hesitate before I started the game. In our quests to reclaim the feelings of yesterday and the wonder of our youth, it is very easy to fall into the face-value tropes that sometimes signal an immaturity in creating a story. What astounded me was that I found very little of this in the game itself – only in the way it was marketed. The alliterated title and logo assets feel marginally clever but alarmingly appropriated.
Legrand Legacy shows that Semisoft is capable of so much more beyond this familiar wrapping, and I hope that the Indonesian company continues to look forward because it shows that our fellow gamers in South-East Asia are capable of amazing things.
*Please Note: Sarah was playing a pre-release copy of Legrand Legacy that was feature complete. There may have been small changes to story elements since this review was written.