You can’t fault Gameloft for trying: Eternal Legacy is clearly the result of the developers casting at least one eye in the direction of Square-Enix, its roots entwined with the Japanese studio’s Final Fantasy series. Indeed, this iPhone role player shares more than a passing resemblance to FFXIII – visually and mechanically – but still manages to have a heart of its own and comes up trumps as once of the best iPhone adventures this year.
For a start off, it looks wonderful. Sure, the styling isn’t for everyone but if you’re looking for something that looks like Phantasy Star Online and is populated by endlessly attractive characters with big swords and pointier hair, this is one for the wishlist. The principle character designs are actually pretty nifty too – yes they’re derivative of many JRPGs but there’s a lot of charm and individuality in both the hero, his band and (most of) the numerous enemies you’ll face.
The world itself looks great, too, and exploration of the vast landscape is helped by perfectly devised controls, offering up free movement with a little on-screen thumbpad and full rotation of the camera by dragging elsewhere. Combat, likewise, is handled with chunky, easy to press prompts, and the menu system follows this consistent design ethic – everything is where you’d expect it to be and it all works wonderfully – no complaints here on that aspect.
The combat, although a little easy at first, is actually quite enjoyable. I’m not a massive fan of turn-based fighting but Eternal Legacy offsets the age-old style somewhat by implementing a time-controlled system which lets you queue up various attacks, items and magic easily enough but leaves plenty of room for advanced tactics as you micro-manage your individual moves and targets as the timer ticks by until your next turn.
And whilst the player only needs to focus on the lead, Astrian, your team can consist of up to three members who’ll happily look after themselves in the heat of a scrap – healing and attacking without ever getting in the way; indeed, having someone on your time who’s handy with magic can make a big difference to your decisions as it’s usually fairly safe to rely on your back being covered medically in the event of a nasty hit or two.
The story’s not great, veering off on wild tangents as you go, but that and the voice acting (which can be a little offputting) don’t really spoil the party too much. Eternal Legacy oozes high production values elsewhere and shines through as a result. The game flows nicely for most of the exposition and anyone expecting this to stand up to Final Fantasy in terms of scope or scale is missing the point – this is a mobile take on the genre, and for the most part it’s a great one.
- Lovely graphics
- Plenty to explore and find
- Lots of variety in terms of combat and tactics
- No random battles
- Pacing can be a little off
- The story isn’t the best in the genre
- Side-quests aren’t particularly fulfilling
Eternal Legacy is a confident but slightly off-beat take on the Square-Enix lineage: the graphics are superb, the controls and user interface just about perfect and the price, £3.99, represents great value for money. It’s not your usual iPhone game though, be prepared to put in the hours, but if Japanese role players are your thing and you’re looking for something to play on the move, Gameloft’s got you covered this Christmas.