It often feels to me that despite the current love for all things retro (especially graphically!) there’s a distinct lack of old-school JRPG’s missing from the market. I’ve said this to others and have been told that Bravely Default is what I’m looking for, I’ll have to admit I’ve still not got around to grabbing a copy of that. However, for all intents and purposes Atlus’ Legends of Legacy looks like it could be the plug for that hole. Or is it?
Things are a bit odd in Legends of Legacy, it definitely ticks the boxes for being old-school. It encourages exploration, has a fantastic looking land to explore, feels traditional and has an excellent turn based battle system (more on that in a moment). However, developer FuRyu have made some notable alterations to that familiar formula. There’s very little in the form of structure, you’re given the basic outline of a story and then left to your own devices to go and explore, you don’t acquire additional party members, the entire troupe is available to use within the first couple of hours and levelling up has now been assigned to the battle systems formation system. It makes for an odd but interesting experience.
That battle system is the games focal point, you’ll head off to a new location intent on exploring and opening up the entire map (which can then be sold), battling rather bland enemies as you go. Aside from the beasts, which mostly appear as a variety of shadowy blobs, the game looks utterly gorgeous, so the lack of imagination in the appearance of enemies when you’re battling is a huge let down for an area you’re going to be spending a lot of time in for a couple of reasons. The first is that its actually rather interesting, even if its not really explained particularly well by the game itself. Your party members can occupy one of 3 places in battle which then defines how the battle goes. You can change the formation at the start of each turn and experience is applied to your character’s stance within that formation once the battle has finished. This in turn enables you to acquire move sets for each weapon you’re wielding which also allows you to balance some of the more traditional style jobs for the genre (which aren’t named within the game but its pretty obvious once you’re beginning to progress that you’re developing a tank, a healer etc. based upon your approach to each and every battle). The battle system is most definitely Legend of Legacy’s saving grace, if it weren’t for the fact that you will definitely find yourself having to be in battles far too often just to be able to be strong enough to head to new areas then it’d be almost reason enough to stick at the game.
Unfortunately, as mentioned, its been applied to a game that doesn’t really want you to progress. There’s a decent script with some very basic but likeable characters here, but they the lack of any thorough plot or hook just leaves any potential that they or the games stunning world have utterly wasted. Its one thing to have an excellent battle system, after all its the one part of these types of games you always have control over, but there’s nothing here to really tie it to. Which is an utter shame, there’s the building blocks of something really promising here, and FuRyu should be commended for trying something different whilst trying to appeal to traditionalists but Legends of Legacy is, sadly, a failed experiment where I cant help feel like the creators lacked a bit of direction and just maybe needed to be reeled in just a little in order to tie the whole thing together.