The Legend of Legacy Review:Will it be Legendary?
The Legend of Legacy
Publisher: Atlus USA
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating: E10
Release Date: October 13th, 2015
Thank you Atlus USA for providing us with a review copy!
The Legend of Legacy is the latest JRPG out of the minds of FuyRu. While FuyRu has a track record of delivering subpar games, minus a few (see our Lost Dimension review), they are looking to finally break the mold on the 3DS with putting together an All Star team of developers to create a game that is a spiritual successor to the SaGa series. You may ask: how does it do? We are here to discuss that today.
The Legend of Legacy is a game where a King is seeking to map out the island in which his kingdom is on to discover the legends behind it. However, the island is ravished with monsters at every corner. Unfortunately, his guards are only good at protecting him and not fighting monsters. This is where your character comes in. He is looking for adventurers to map out the land with the promise of fame and fortune awaiting them. Here, the game takes an interesting turn. Instead of one main character, you have a choice of eight different characters to play as. Each one with their own backstory and motive on why they are taking the king’s quest to map out the island. Their motives are all pretty interesting and make you want to learn the story behind them. They can range from a girl suffering from standard JRPG trope #131 (Amnesia), to a strange frog prince looking for the rest of his people. The character’s stories will leave you wanting to find out more and more about them until the very end.
Like I mentioned before, your job will be mapping out many areas for the king. On paper this sounds pretty easy. You are given a few areas to explore at first, and you fill in the maps by exploring every nook and cranny of the different map sections. From there you then sell the maps to the local merchant, and after that you buy another map to explore an entirely new area. However, it’s not that straight forward. The maps you are exploring are filled to the brim with monsters. Sometimes too many monsters.
These monsters will appear on the over world as a type of shadow, if the shadow sees you they will pursue you, with each shadow having different ways of doing so. Lion shadows will first face you then charge right at you, bug shadows will attempt to leap at you while birds will fly right at you. You never know what it is you will really be fighting until the shadow comes in contact with you. This leads into the next part of the game, the combat system.
The game’s combat is similar of that of your typical JRPG turn based combat system. However, I have to give FuRyu credit for trying to innovate this mechanic. At the start of your battle phase you will have the option to arrange your party in different formations. These formations are made to give you a different approach to varying situations. You may want to throw caution to the wind by attacking all at once, or having one guy tank all the damage that turn so your main support and attack units don’t fall in the first turn. These formations add an interesting layer to your strategy, and makes you weigh your options. Mainly, whether it is wise to charge in blindly or take it cautiously. The main character you started with will also determine who your starting party is, and each party member will have a role that they are better at than others. They are not completely locked to that role, however.
In combat you can attack with many different weapons that you buy from town, get from ship charters in the towns port, or find in battle. Each weapon will have its own stats and skills that can be learned with it. It should be noted that chartering ships, albeit expensive, is your best way to unlock new weapons and gear for your party members. The more you use a certain weapon, the higher your attack stats will go up with it, and sometimes you will unlock a more powerful move. These powerful moves, more often than not, will require you to use your SP. Sadly, this game doesn’t give you items to recover SP during battle. Do not fret as you automatically gain back 1 SP point every turn. So using some moves that only require 1 SP come risk free in the off chance they don’t work.
Another gameplay mechanic that makes this game unique is how you use your spells. There are four different elements in this game, water, fire, wind, and shadow. At the start of the battle you will see a reader on the bottom portion of screen showing which element currently has the larger influence on the battle. You must use a contract spell to enter a contract with the certain elements for them to be in your favor during the battle. Entering in a contract with the elements will also boost your attack power, and the more influence your elements have, the stronger you and their effects will be. Be warned, enemies can steal your contracts and have the effects benefit them as opposed to you. The water elements will restore your health by a small amount at the end of each phase, the air elements will restore some of your SP at the end of each phase, and the fire elements, well to be honest, I am not entirely sure what the fire elements did. The game wasn’t very specific on what to do there, and, to be honest, the game isn’t very specific on a lot of things.
I need to talk about a lot of the glaring issues this game has. The game has no real sense of direction. At the beginning, I said the game’s story allows you to explore a variety of stories through the view of eight different characters. That would be awesome, if there was a story to explore. The game’s narrative is nonexistent, with the only real exhibition happening at the beginning and at the end of the game. There is little to no substance in the middle. Sure, you get some back story on the island you are on through interacting with different crystals and certain points in the game, but it just feels flat. I feel like I have no motivation to really try to explore. The game feels like “explore the areas because why not?” There is also very little interaction between party members. What makes a lot of JRPG (like Persona, Etrian Odyssey, and Shin Megami Tensei) games stories stand out is the interactions your main character has with the different party members. You start the game wanting to know as much as you possibly can about the game’s characters, and the game delivers leaving a memorable experience. This game starts you off with a hunger to know more about your party members, only to starve you through the entire experience. The only way you can explore all eight of the party member’s stories is if you play through the entire game with each different character. Thankfully, New Game+ makes this a bit more bearable.
Another thing to mention is how easily it is to miss things in this game. You are allowed to explore the games maps in any order you like, meaning you could have missed something you were meant to get that would have made the current map you are in easier. Each of the spells require contract spells, and to find them you have to find them in the games different maps. For a good portion of the game I found none of them and had to rely only on water elementals. While not impossible, it was a bit annoying to feel like I was obviously missing something the further I got into the game when I had so many air and fire spells and no way to use them. When I finally did realize where to get them I felt it was kind of silly how there were no clear indications that I had to go that route to get them from the start.
The next thing you could easily go the whole game without knowing is that you can recruit other party members. While the main character you pick gives you a set of two party members to start out with you can easily recruit more by finding them around the town area and simply talk to them. The thing is I had no reason to think that. I had talked to everyone in town on the first day of the game a few times and not a single new party member was there. Granted the town folks do change from time to time but they aren’t always party members. By the time I realized I could find new party members in town, my main three party members dwarfed the new recruits stats to the point where I didn’t really want to make an effort to train them from the ground up to make them usable in my party. Normally when I get new party members, early on I try to evenly train them with the rest of the party, but with how vague this game is in letting you know when or how to get more I had no drive to.
The last thing I will talk about is the game’s difficulty. If you are a person looking for a big challenge that takes you back to the days of the Super Nintendo, and can be just as unforgiving, if not more, then this game may be for you. If you aren’t, and were looking for a JRPG to immerse yourself into the story and surroundings, this may not be for you. The enemies in this game can be extremely unforgiving at times, when you encounter them in large groups they can be a huge threat to your party. Many times I would encounter a group of enemies that had the ability to wipe out your entire team in the second turn if you were not prepared, and these were standard enemies. The only saving grace you have is that they will refrain from doing the attacks that could wipe out your team in the first turn. If you feel like you are about to be overwhelmed your best course of action is to just run away. And you will be doing that a lot.
Running away from battles are always 100% guaranteed, however, you will be sent back to the start of the area. This is where it can get a little frustrating. You could be really far in terms of mapping out an entire area, the last time you saved was about two hours ago, and you get a surprise battle filled with enemies that almost wiped out your entire team. You have two options: run away and start all the way at the beginning again, or try your luck and fight it out and lose all two hours of progress of map making and grinding in a few swift seconds. This is a scenario you will find yourself in a lot. Sometimes you will mistakenly encounter a mini-boss battle and have no choice but to fight or die, sometimes these are monsters that are clearly way more powerful than you. The fact that the game’s level up system does not exist, and the only thing you level up is your stats means you are constantly never really sure if you are ready to take on certain monsters.
However, in a sick sense, this can also be really enjoyable. The feeling you get from taking down an enemy that had earlier made you lose over six hours of progress is one of the best feelings in the world. You could spend several hours grinding up your skills and putting together the right formations to take down said enemy. But there is always the grim reminder that you will face the same issue again in the next area.
I will give the game this credit though, no matter how difficult the game may seem at times, it is never truly impossible. You just need to be willing to put in the extra work and effort to want to get past what is constantly driving you down. I can see the appeal of it, however, at times I just feel like the game’s difficulty could have been balanced more. Then the people wanting a challenge could get what they want, and the players who are looking for an immersive adventure could get what they want.
One thing I will say that I loved about this game is the art style. I love the popup art direction they were going for. You actually get to see the world around you pop up as you explore around it, so every new section of the map you discover unfolds right in front of you. This is also one of those few 3DS games that I recommend you play with the 3D on to get the full experience of this popup effect. The many different maps you explore all look unique and crafted right out of a fairy tale. It makes you almost forget the challenges ahead of you and just enjoy the scenery around you. Well, almost. Your admiration of the scenery may be cut short by being chased all around the map by monsters. But once you get the time to explore it on your own it’s worth the treat. And it’s imperative that do you explore the map, as there are secrets to be found everywhere.
Overall, The Legend of Legacy is a very interesting game that has much potential that is dragged down by its own lack of direction, barren storytelling, and unbalanced difficulty. However, the game still has potential, and I feel like if the developers could focus on the games strong points and iron out the downsides, The Legend of Legacy could be a Legend worth passing on one day in the future.
+Gorgeous visuals, specially with the 3D on.
+Innovative JRPG mechanics
+Variety of party styles to choose from
-Lack of direction
-Bare bones story
-Expect your system time to be vastly different from your save time.