What do you get when you take the illustrations of Tomomi Kobayashi (SaGa), the music of Masashi Mamauzu (SaGa, Final Fantasy XIII), writing from Masato Kato (Chrono Trigger) and pair them up with Kyoji Koizumi (SaGa) and Masataka Matsurra (999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors)? You get the latest Nintendo 3DS RPG from Atlus and Furyu: The Legend of Legacy.
Read on for our review!
The Legend of Legacy lets you choose from one of seven characters as you start your adventure. Depending on which character you choose, your story will be different. A neat concept on paper, but the reality of it is that those opening cutscenes that introduce you to your character are the biggest chunks of story I’ve seen in the game.
No matter which character you select, you arrive on the island of Avalon. You may have been sent by the church to prove that the gods that are rumored to inhabit the island don’t exist, you may be here for fortune and glory. No matter the reason, you’re on the island and are asked to explore it by the King of Adventurers.
Exploring the island of Avalon
The game starts you off with your character accompanied by two other members (who are selected depending on who you chose as your main character but can be swapped out later) on their way to the forest which is an attempt to introduce you to the basics of the game. Upon entering your first battle, the character in your party with the highest guard rating will tell you to select a specific formation and then make them guard for the next attack round. That more or less sums up the combat tutorial and that lack of guidance is something that is echoed throughout The Legend of Legacy.
After completing the tutorial and locating a mysterious singing stone in the forest, you return to the King of Adventurers and he gives a short speech about elementals and how now you can make a contract with them. He then gives you an item that lets you see the levels of the elements in your currently area and then tells you to go off and explore.
There are several areas on the island of Avalon that you can explore. You start out by going to a destination on the map and then you can explore the different areas within that destination. As you do so, you’ll record the map for the area which you can then later sell in town to make some money. As you explore, you’ll come across additional singing stones which will grant you items that, when equipped, will give you elemental abilities. Sometimes these stones may be guarded by fierce foes so it’s necessary to level up your abilities along the way.
Explore, complete maps, get elemental abilities, level up- this is the focus of the game.
There are benefits to a system like this. Not being told where to go and exploring any area you have access to whenever you want can be nice. However, once you get into these areas the real initial driving force is “Hey a new area! I should walk around everywhere so I can complete my map for money!” Sometimes these areas might have little surprises hidden in them like a cliff that oversees a village that is then accessible on your map to visit. Other areas can be unlocked by exploring the areas you have access to and exploring deep enough into them that you end up finding and unlocking them on the world map.
The downside to this open exploration system however is that there’s no narrative reward, something which is essential for an RPG. Giving the player a short introduction and then sending them off to explore sounds great. It sounds less great however, when ten hours later you’ve yet to receive any large updates to the story. Even the task of recruiting new party members lacks any sort of interesting narrative. You simply see them walking around in the only town in the game, talk to them, and after one or two pieces of text you then have the option to swap them into your party.
At the start of each round in battle you can choose a formation (which can be customized) which will move characters into the appropriate slots for attacking, guarding, and support. This reminds me quite a bit of the Paradigm system used in Final Fantasy XIII where you constantly change your formation depending on if you want to go fully on the offensive, or if you want to mitigate damage a bit while also healing party members. The fights in the game can be rough and it’s a very good idea to constantly use a formation where one character is guarding (tanking) so that the damage can be mostly focused on a single character and easier to manage.
If a character dies in combat, they can be revived simply by being healed. However, upon each death, that characters max HP decreases and won’t go back up until your party rests at an inn, requiring frequent trips back to town. Another interesting part of the battle system is that the characters themselves don’t level up- their skills do. Use a skill enough times and it will eventually level up. Stronger kills can also be unlocked by the frequent use of your current abilities. Elemental abilities that are only accessed by equipping a specific item can be learned if used a number of times, allowing you to then equip that item on another character so that multiple members of your party have access to it.
In order to be able to use these elemental abilities in battle however, the element must have have a presence in the area you’re in. You can call the element by using a contract ability. The slight annoyance with this, is that instead of starting a battle and immediately casting a shield spell, you first need to use a contract ability to bring up whatever element that your desired buff is based upon.
The Legend of Legacy starts off as a challenging RPG with a strong focus on exploration. However, the more time I’ve spent with it, the more bored I’ve become, going from area to area hoping to get some new story elements only to be repeatedly let down. The battles continue to remain challenging throughout, however there’s a point when this game seems to become nothing but grinding. Grinding certainly isn’t a new concept for an RPG, but usually there is some light at the end of the tunnel, some great story that guides you along and gives you a fantastic conclusion. In The Legend of Legacy, grinding is only guided along by the prospect of seeing a new area, which you will then explore while grinding even more.
~ Final Score: 6/10 ~
Review copy provided by Atlus for 3DS. Screenshots provided by Atlus.