Reviews// Legrand Legacy

Posted 25 Jan 2018 15:28 by
There are those of us belonging to a certain age group that have overwhelmingly fond memories of JRPGs released in the 90's/early 2000's. This nostalgia allows us to ignore the pitfalls of early videogame design decisions that when used today can make games infuriating to play.

Legrand Legacy runs the risk of emulating old JRPGs too heavily.

I hit a wall early on with this game from Semisoft. That wall came in the form of not enough healing items, not enough currency to buy healing items and a healer that doesn't get a proper healing spell for the first few hours you have access to her. In modern games this wouldn't be too much of an issue. You'd respawns at a checkpoint or, in the more generous games, get to retry the battle. With Legrand Legacy you go back to your last manual save and these defeats can come swiftly and without warning or when you are deep in a dungeon after running out of your meagre supply of healing items.

At first I put these defeats down to me being out of practice with the older style of JRPG, so I decided to grind out a few levels and try and build up a better supply of aid. This worked for about thirty minutes after re-entering a dungeon that had been giving me problems. I was doing great, making my way through enemies and passages and then I hit the wall again when everyone in my party was inflicted with confusion during a single enemy turn and proceeded to die, with nothing I could do but watch and despair as I lost another chunk of progress.

Legrand Legacy looks and sounds like a late '90s PlayStation JRPG with an extra lick of modern paint to make it sparkle and gleam. It has beautiful pre-rendered backdrops, all painted by hand rather than being 3D models. The character models are wonderfully old school without being too trope-ridden, all with a fantastic melancholy soundtrack.

You start the game as Finn, a slave with no memory of his past. After he wins a gladiatorial match his freedom is bought by a strange old man. All this man wants in exchange is a guard to see him through a dangerous desert so that he can deliver medicine to his daughter who will die without it.

Nothing goes to plan and Finn ends up doing the bidding of a beautiful silver-haired adventurer who promises to help him if he does some things for her first. The story is delivered via text and character portraits that are brought to life using a technology called Live 2D - this tech takes 2D images and gives them a false sense of 3D animation. There are also brief full motion video (yes, honest to goodness FMVs) cutscenes that add an extra layer to the narrative.

I opened this review on a negative, partly because it is preventing me from finishing this game before writing the review, something I hate doing, but mainly because it is something older JRPG fans are familiar with and for some it'll be the difference between buying and not buying the game. Despite this, I honestly love Legrand Legacy. It presses so many of the right buttons that I know I'll keep going back until I bust through the wall preventing me from continuing.

The combat system is an almost perfect example of a turn-based system designed to keep you on your toes. You can do quick attacks that'll almost always hit, or you can risk interruption and try for a more powerful Grimoire spell. Each character and enemy has clearly visible strengths and weaknesses so you can plot accordingly. There is a front row and back row system that changes characters' attack and defence stats and allows you to place weak characters behind those with better defences.

During an attack you are presented with a button prompt and a timer. If you press the button in a marked region you score a hit, if you get the button press perfectly you are rewarded with a critical hit.

There is a tactical war system in the game that feels like a boardgame within the actual game and makes for a great change of pace. This is on top of mini-games and a number of other diversions that can keep you wondering through the large overworld.

I can easily recommend Legrand Legacy to fans of the JRPGs of yesteryear, but only if you have the patience to deal with the downsides that come with that style of game. For newer gamers who have always been reluctant to try older, less generous, JRPGs I would also recommend they start here because of all the modern aesthetical touches and easy to understand mechanics that will prove hard to master. Legrand Legacy is a love letter to a genre that has changed significantly in the last two decades and whilst it isn't perfect it is still a really good game.

Pros:
+ Fascinating story, characters and setting
+ Beautiful soundtrack topped off with the inclusion of Emi Evans (of Nier fame) providing the vocals
+ Lovingly hand-painted environments
+ Great turn-based combat systems

Cons:
- Gruelling difficulty spikes and unexpected defeats
- Archaic manual saving, a system that should remain in the past

SPOnG Score: 7/10

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