A slave, a noble, a mystical being, a war and a prophecy of destruction looming over all. Sounds familiar doesn’t it, like something found in an old-school (or even modern) JRPG. This is Legrand Legacy.
Publisher: Another Indie
Release Date: January 2018
Played Full story
Purchase At: Steam
You know, nowadays when I read that a game is a homage, or a love letter to classic/old-school/retro games, I instinctively groan. I have played way too many games focused on reliving the past instead of learning from it and doing their own thing, the thing that’ll make them stand out. After all, who wants to just be a copycat?
When Legrand Legacy came to me, I had that groan moment, but as a big fan of JRPGs I thought I had to give this title a chance, after all, it was paying homage to the PS1 era of JRPGs, which produced such wonderful titles as Chrono Cross and Legend of Legaia. To make it even more interesting, the developer seemed to have gone for the visual quality of the era, with blocky characters on painted backgrounds and cinematics where characters look like they’re made of some shiny plastic.
Legrand Legacy opens with the main character in an arena fighting for his life as a slave. That’s enough to hook me, especially when in the following cinematic has the character’s eyes shift, becoming something draconic and he just kills the gladiator in front of him.
At that point the game just had to invest in the characters, perhaps exploring this guy’s hidden power for a little while it connected to the greater plot. But no, Legrand Legacy instead wastes its opportunity with the blandest RPG opening segment I have ever played. An Old Man, a Norn—a species that can speak via telepathy and has mystical powers, releases Finn, our protagonist, from slavery by buying his freedom and then hires him as his bodyguard for the trek across a desert to bring some medicine to his daughter. I was on board with this, even if I didn’t give a damn about the characters, as I didn’t really know them.
Without going into much, the journey doesn’t go well and Finn’s left to die in the desert when the 2nd party member, the most obnoxious and cartoonish haughty and unfriendly noble I’ve seen in a videogame, finds him and pretty much browbeats him into accompanying her into a tomb, all the while insulting and demeaning him, refusing to use his name and simply refer to him as “peasant.”
One tomb and an unfair—we’ll get to that—boss later and we get the prophecy about the end of the world and the legendary fetch quest we must complete, which will not only save the world but also fix it and the war that’s raging in the north.
Only then, after so many hours of gameplay do we reach the Old Man’s daughter to save her and she joins the main character, not in the heroic quest with the dumb noble, but in going back to the same desert we’ve spent hours in at this point to find the remains of her father so he can “pass on.”
And only then do the characters join the heroic quest and again, only because the little Norn girl wishes to travel to a place where might learn to become a healer. Our protagonist on the other hand has no personality, desires or even backbone. Everyone walks all over him and he’s just a follower, a mook.
Legrand Legacy has the most unlikable cast of characters I’ve seen in a long time. Not a single one of them grows in a significant way or even becomes anything but the paper cutouts they’re introduced as. In fact, you can divide the party into characters with no personality, like Finn or the healer girl and characters with an awful personality, like the noble girl and the thief that joins later on. I hated these characters so much I can’t even remember their names, didn’t bother as there is nothing worth remembering. The only thing I ever thought was who in their right minds would travel, let alone risk their lives for these people?
The plot isn’t entirely bad, with its collection of Middle Eastern, Viking and Celtic elements sprinkled here and there, mostly for terminology, not the actual folklore or myths but it’s nothing I haven’t seen done better before. The problem is that along with horrible characters, Legrand Legacy has hours spent on pointless and horribly written info dumps and character interactions. Dear god these dialogs are abysmal. Five hours in I always already skimming dialogue, as it was lengthy, repetitive, unnatural—as in people don’t talk this way in any world—and frankly boring.
I’d like to say the gameplay redeems Legrand Legacy, but then again, if your story is bad, there isn’t an amount of gameplay that’ll keep you playing a role-playing game, where the story is kinda the point. Still, I’ll give props to Legrand Legacy for a unique twist on combat.
Instead of merely selecting attacks and watching them happen, you get a quicktime prompt with a spinning dial. If you press at the right time, the attack will hit, with a perfect timing granting an automatic critical. Characters can also cast spells and use skills, but these take longer and unless there’s a character covering them—positioned right in front of them on the column & row-based formation—hits will cancel their attacks.
The problem lies with how unbalanced the combat is and how poorly implemented the rules are. Much like other RPGs, Legrand Legacy has its own rock, paper & scissors element, with different attack types—slashing, bludgeoning and piercing—and elements being stronger or weaker against others, but they’re completely inconsistent. A boss you fight early on, a big ugly cross between an oyster and an octopus, used water attacks and sometimes these did barely any damage to my water element character but then the next strike completely obliterated them, dealing more damage to them than to the characters weak to the boss’ element. The weakness & strength rules are there for show, but no one bothered to implement them properly.
Something no one else bothered to do with the combat is balance the encounters. All characters have, in addition to their standard attacks and skills, a bar that unleashes a limit break type of attack. These attacks are extremely powerful and deal humongous levels of damage, often clearing out normal enemies in an instant. You charge these bars by attacking enemies or using your skills.
I’m explaining that mechanic because without it, it is impossible to make it through the game. Instead of being a tool in your arsenal that you use for some extra damage or benefit, in Legrand Legacy all fights, especially against bosses, boil down to surviving until the boss’ weakness exposes—for those bosses for which this applies—and then just smack them with all these limit attacks to kill them in one turn.
I fought the first boss at a stage where your characters have around 500 health, and the boss had two attacks, one that dealt roughly 150 and the other that dealt over 400, and he could spam any of them at any time. So unless you used those limit abilities it wasn’t going to be a long fight. And this trend extends to every enemy in the game, including normal ones on all stages of the game.
Take the 2nd major boss, the oysterpus I mentioned before. All its attacks dealt around 200, when the party has around 500 or 600 health, but once in a while he could bust out a special attack that dealt over 1000 points of damage to the party.
There doesn’t seem to be an idea of enemy balance, not with regard to the stage of the game or your character’s level and equipment. I never felt like the characters were improving or becoming more powerful no matter how many skills I unlocked or attributes I raised.
And that’s another thing. With a fight system like this and with such unbalanced difficulty, you’d think you would spend most of your attribute points of strength, to deal more damage, and vitality, to withstand more punishment. But then Legrand Legacy’s designers decided that the only way to unlock a character’s skills was to tie them to specific attribute value combinations, forcing you to spend points all over the place, resulting in characters with wonky and poorly built stats. And it’s not even a choice, because if you don’t unlock skills you can only use basic attacks and those will become obsolete very quickly, especially against enemies with highly damaging AoE attacks. You need the skills to deal damage in rows, columns and at range, so you can have a chance against the enemy’s formation.
And speaking of formation the only thing it does it give you the ability to put one character in front of another to act as a bodyguard for their skill use, but being in the back row doesn’t give you any benefit such as damage reduction. Nope, you’re getting whacked just as normal.
I have no idea why the developers sought to emulate the horrible character models of this era. The painted backgrounds are good enough but everything else just feels cheap now. The bad character models, which in the ps1 era seemed top of the line now are just ugly and unappealing, and the icons that indicate inns, transport and shops seem to have been drawn in Microsoft Paint. They’re cheap and ugly.
There is no voice acting, which might be a blessing and there is little to say about the music, as it’s bland and forgettable. There’s only one melody I remember and it’s the boss tune, which is a generic tune with a generic choir background.
Can people just stop trying to make these homage games? Why don’t they instead focus on making one that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the great titles they love, instead of pandering to nostalgia with a soulless and heartless product, which is what Legrand Legacy is. There’s no heart here, nothing worth remembering, just a subpar duplicate of something much better.
1/5 – Hell No!