Legend of Legacy Review: Punishing Fantasy

A wild role playing game approaches, but don't let its cute looks fool you

Legend of Legacy Review Punishing Fantasy
14th March, 2016 By Ian Morris
Game Info // Legend of Legacy
Legend of Legacy Boxart
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Furyu Corporation
Players: 1
Available On: 3DS
Genre: Role Playing Game (Turn Based Battles)

Legend of Legacy is a game that turned heads when it was first announced, due to the "all star" development cast it was putting together. Reading like a who's who list of Japanese role playing games, it brought together plenty of big names from the (admittedly fairly obscure, at least on these shores) SaGa series (like the Playstation's SaGa Frontier, or Playstation 2's Unlimited SaGa) to make a brand new role playing game that promised to recapture the adventure of old. Paired with a gorgeous hand-drawn art style, which made it feel more like you're exploring a moving watercolour painting than playing a game, Legend of Legacy was high on many people's most wanted lists. But sadly, despite the pretty visuals, it's a game that doesn't really live up to the hype, thanks to a laundry list of problems.

We'd usually start these reviews off by setting the scene a little bit - telling you all you need to know about the game's story, the world its set in, and the many crazy characters that inhabit it. The only problem is, Legend of Legacy doesn't really have a story - and that's one of its most glaring faults. While there is some lore here - the game's set on the island of Avalon, a mysterious land that simply sprung up from the sea one day - that also appears to be the entire extent of the story. You simply pick one of the six characters on offer to play as (from an admittedly varied line-up, including Owen, the mercenary, Eloise the alchemist, and a small blue frog prince known as Filmia), and set out on your way. Each of the characters is looking for something unique - Eloise is searching for the secret to eternal youth (despite only being 24), and Filmia, the seemingly forgetful frog prince, is looking for his kingdom. So far, so good - but no sooner have you started playing the game than the entire story simply dries up entirely. And it doesn't come back.

Legend of Legacy Screenshot

This is almost literally the game's entire plot

Instead, what follows is an adventure of exploration and self-discovery, as the king sends you out on a quest to simply explore the land. In fact, that's actually 99% of the plot here - with a few random destinations to choose from on a world map, it's up to you to pick a place to explore, and get running around. Although even that makes it sound more exciting than it really is.

When you first set foot in each area, the bottom screen will show a local area map that's almost entirely blank, bar the few feet immediately around you. As you run around each area, the map will fill itself in, showing you the percentage you've explored, and this is essentially what the game offers in place of a story. Luckily, exploring itself is at least visually impressive, as the world will literally spring into view - trees pop out of the ground, caves suddenly show up, and the world comes to life around you. It's a really impressive effect, and one that's shown off well in the trailer below.

The only problem is, Legend of Legacy's magic wears off not too long after, as you quickly come to realise there actually isn't all that much more to the game. All there is is some maps to explore (for no reason other than because they're there, so why the heck not), and battles with the games numerous enemies. Often stalking around each area, there are dozens of enemies waiting to lock horns with you, and they'll charge at you should they see you. In practice, what this means is you'll end up getting involved in many, many battles over the course of your time with the game - and they're not exactly easy to get to grips with.

While turn based battles are usually a good thing in terms of accessibility, Legend of Legacy feels like anything but. There's nothing in the way of a tutorial to explain how everything works, and instead you're thrown in at the deep end. Before you begin each turn, you'll have to choose a formation - when you first start out, this is a choice between an "all out" stance, where your characters line up in a row ready to attack, and a "protector" stance, which in our case, saw the woman standing at the front with a shield, ready to absorb any physical attacks (taking damage at a reduced rate) on behalf of the men.

Once you've chosen a stance, it's up to you to go through each character, choosing a weapon you want to use, and a move to perform with that weapon. Some weapons have more moves available than others, but each will have one move that costs no SP (skill points), along with a collection of others (presumably that do more damage) that will set you back at least a few SP. So far, so simple - but this is where Legend of Legacy starts to get confusing.

For starters, while each weapon has its own stats for Attack, Guard and Support, so too does each move. Why they have said stats, or what they actually mean is anyone's guess, as the game doesn't tell you, but it does make judging whether one move is better than another rather difficult. At seemingly random times during a battle, the word "AWAKENED!" will flash up on screen, and rather than perform the move you told them to, your character will learn (and perform) a brand new move instead. The only issue is, we haven't quite figured out how or why this happens. During one battle, we were "AWAKENED!" and learnt a new move, only to promptly die soon afterwards (something that happens a lot in this game, although more on that later). Weirdly enough, after loading our last save (which was made just before the battle we popped our clogs, and learnt the new moves in), we haven't actually yet managed to re-learn that move, despite having put in several hours more with the game, and played through dozens more battles. If playing one battle was enough to have us learn the move the first time, how have we played dozens more, and yet not learnt it this time? It's a good question, but Legend of Legacy isn't in the business of providing answers - only making you ask more questions.

Legend of Legacy Screenshot

Choose a move, try and guess what the coloured chart means - much of Legend of Legacy is a mystery to begin with

Similarly, there's no levelling system to speak of here - instead of having a nice, clear (and rewarding) bar that fills up at the end of each battle, your characters will instead gain extra health, or stat boosts seemingly at random. Again, there's no real rhyme or reason to when, where or why you'll get these boosts, and the fact you don't actually go up a level gets rid of a lot of the reward, and feeling of progression that usually comes with role playing games. Having had your health go from 200 to 220 doesn't give you quite the same feeling as having gained ten levels the hard way.

But while for the most part, the battles may be OK (at least, in terms of structure), the exploration leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, each area you explore technically consists of several - sometimes dozens - of smaller maps, each linked together by exits that take you from one map to another. With that in mind, you can see how things could get confusing - if a map has eight exits, and you can only actually take one at a time, the chances are you're going to miss something - so having something that shows you how the maps join together, and which areas you haven't explored - and which exits you haven't taken - would be helpful. But does Legend of Legacy provide anything similar? Don't be silly. This is a game that labels exits as "World Map", when sometimes they actually lead to a new area, not the world map at all. This is an even bigger problem as going through said misleadingly labelled exits is the only way to find a new area - and if you go through a world map exit that actually does lead to the world map, you can't simply turn around and go back in. Instead, you'll have to start from the "entrance" to the area, which could be ten or more maps back...

But perhaps the biggest downfall of the battles is that they're incredibly hard. If you've played many role playing games before, the fact that the game automatically replenishes your health after each battle should be an alarm bell enough. Enemies dish out loads of damage, and certain, powerful enemies can often wipe out your entire team in a move or two - which doesn't exactly make things that much fun. A good case in point are the giant birds that circle over the second area you explore. Just to make things awkward, these are enemies you can't actually see, at least not physically - circling overhead, all you see is a shadow cast on the floor. If you even so much as collide with it, you'll be thrust into a battle with a bird that can do somewhere between 60-100 damage to you in one turn. Considering you have less than 300 HP in total, and it has health like a tank, accidentally getting into a battle with this bird basically spells death. And what's the only way to avoid your imminent death? To flee, and go back to the very start of the area, several maps back.

Inaccessible, awkward, far too unforgiving, and severely lacking in the story department, Legend of Legacy is, unfortunately, a huge disappointment. It's like the developers spent so long making the game's gorgeous pop-up book art style, and coming up with a decent battle system that they just totally forgot to work on everything else that makes a game great. You know, like tutorials. Or a story. A role playing game that leaves you without a role to play, Legend of Legacy, sadly, leaves a lot to be desired.

Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS

StarStarEmpty starEmpty starEmpty star
Not so legendary after all...
  • +
    Great art style
  • +
    Interesting character designs
  • +
  • -
    Complete lack of story
  • -
    Annoying, way too tricky battles.
  • -
    Complex, but with no tutorials
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