Lately, we’ve seeen several high profile role-playing games try to recapture the magic of classic Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest titles for the Famicom. It’s sensible for developers to want to recreate what was so special about their childhood, but it’s a risky proposition considering how much gaming has evolved since then.
The latest game to try to evoke nostalgia from lifelong RPG fans is The Legend of Legacy, the most ambitious title yet from developer FuRyu. Teaming up with Atlus, FuRyu has attempted to bring back the thrill of exploration found in early RPGs while blending it with an interesting combat system.
The Legend of Legacy has a very unique turn-based combat system that has the player choose the stance that their party of three will be in. These stances have different benefits, as some will be geared towards defense, and others will be useful for attacking. Adding in even more customization is that players will be able to create custom stances, so there is plenty of experimentation to be found here.
Another interesting part of the battle system is that you’ll be going up against a ton of enemies. It isn’t uncommon to go up against more than 5 at once, which means players will have to prioritize who to attack. Is it better to take out one strong enemy first, or several weaker enemies in one hit? These are the types of decisions you’ll have to make on a regular basis.
The actual fighting itself is pretty similar to your standard turn-based RPG, as players will have basic attacks and specials that cost SP to use. You’ll gain new types of skills, and become more proficient at current ones by using them, as The Legend of Legacy eschews the typical levelling mechanic found in almost all RPGs. This ends up manifesting in a few neat ways. For example, if a character guards a lot, he’ll earn new abilities that help him guard, but no new attacks. This allows you to specialize to an unprecedented degree.
When not in battle, players will be exploring over 20 different maps. These range from small one room areas to giant castles that have multiple floors. When exploring, players are treated to a nice fog of war effect, which helps bolster the sense of finding something new at every turn.
One element of RPGs that has thankfully stayed in the past is random enemy encounters, and thankfully they aren’t found here. Instead, players exploring maps will be able to see groups of enemies. Crafty gamers will be able to avoid the enemies, but most of the time you’ll want to engage in battle. This is because The Legend of Legacy is a very difficult game, and you’ll need all the experience you can get.
Thankfully, while still being difficult, the game never feels like you have to grind to succeed. Since there are several different new locations to explore at once, there is usually a new place to explore once you hit a wall. Once you’ve explored that new area, you’re typically powerful enough to take on whatever section was previously giving you problems.
This type of balancing makes The Legend of Legacy a real joy to play. While the difficulty was never too much, some of the exploration did have me stumped for hours on end. Sometimes players will have to examine certain parts of levels to continue within a dungeon, but they are very easy to overlook. So, even if the map on the touch screen is completely filled, you’ll want to double check all areas of a level.
While the exploration can be frustrating at times, it’s definitely one of the best parts of the game. The only major flaw is the lack of puzzle solving to be had within dungeons. Instead of any meaningful puzzles to solve, players instead must activate small statues that are placed around each level. This isn’t very engaging, and instead felt tiresome.
If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the plot found within The Legend of Legacy, it’s because there largely isn’t any to speak of. The main motivation for most of the characters is just that they are adventurers, so they should go on adventures and explore. There are secrets to find on the island of Avalon that add some context to the adventure, especially after you put in 10+ hours, but you won’t find some epic RPG story here. It’s disappointing since the world of The Legend of Legacy is interesting, but it does allow you to let your imagination craft a story.
A lot of The Legend of Legacy has classic RPG roots, but thankfully, they’re not totally stuck in the past. Since The Legend of Legacy is on a handheld, FuRyu made the intelligent choice of allowing players to save anywhere. Yep, anywhere. You don’t have to spend 15 minutes backtracking to a save point, or any other shenanigans. You can just open up the game’s menu and save. While it may seem strange to be giving a game props for such a standard mechanic in 2015, a lot of RPGs still use specific save points.
FuRyu and Atlus have done a great job of letting The Legend of Legacy feel like a tribute to classic RPGs, while also feeling modern at the same time. It was a tricky balancing act, but there is no doubt that The Legend of Legacy is worth your time. If you are willing to overlook the lack of story, and overcome its considerable challenge, then you should pick it up with no hesitation.
This review is based on the Nintendo 3DS exclusive, which we were provided with for review.
The Legend of Legacy has its shortcomings, but it's still a beautiful love letter to the RPGs of yesteryear.