No one can blame n-Space for trying to recapture the CRPG magic of games such as Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Alongside other classics like Wasteland, Icewind Dale, and Planescape, these were the epic sagas that predate the recent popularity of Fallout, Mass Effect, and other, more action-orientated games in the roleplaying genre.
The now defunct developer even adopted the timeless Forgotten Realms setting for Sword Coast Legends – sadly the studio’s last project before closing its doors earlier this year. Although it may do justice to this Dungeons & Dragons backdrop and its roleplaying forefathers, Legends fails to do anything particularly innovative and noteworthy outside a few multiplayer quirks.
It’s probably best we start with those, then. Playing through either of the two campaigns, adventurers can group together in parties of four, dropping in and out of coop sessions as they please. Another mode allows parties to tackle user-created dungeons, with another player along for the ride as the DM, or Dungeon Master, spawning enemies and generally being a nuisance as players attempt to thwart his or her designs.
The isometric view lends itself to that tabletop feel n-Space were gunning for, while also giving player characters a tactical view of their surroundings. In lieu of a mouse and keyboard on PlayStation 4 and Xbox On, you’ll need to take note of which menus and powers are assigned to the various button combos on your gamepad, and it means that the PC release is still by far the best way to play this game.
It takes some getting used to but, after a few hours of play, I found myself being able to manage my inventory, level up characters, and set waypoints on the map without too much trouble. Being able to select specific targets also gets easier, although raiding solo gives you the option to pause play and assign commands while taking a breather.
World design straddles the line between open and linear. While dungeons have a clear exit point, there are various side quests to undertake, often nudging players to explore their surroundings a little more thoroughly. Those who do will also be treated to the occasional hidden area or loot stash in classic Dungeons & Dragons fashion.
As for the story, there’s little that stands out here, though fans of the setting will no doubt probe a little deeper beneath the surface. Over time, some of the main characters begin to develop their own arcs, but the game’s abundance of dialogue can be offputting, especially for those who came for some simple dungeon crawling action.
Playing online makes it even harder to care about what’s going on as the narrative unfolds. Whenever a player starts a conversation with any character, everyone’s forced to watch as they read through the text. It’s such a poor, ill-considered design choice and one that eventually turned me off the online multiplayer altogether, though there could be more mileage when playing with friends.
As you come to grips with the tactical combat and progression systems, Sword Coast Legends may start to grow on you. For those who can see past its long loading times and other shortcomings, there’s an RPG here well worth the price of entry. However, for casual fans of the genre looking for something upbeat, this n-Space swansong is likely to disappoint.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4