Being the hero is overrated. We’ve been there, done that and bought the mythril armour; for those of us who frequent fantasy video games, it can all begin to get a touch generic after a while. Then comes along a game like Legend of Keepers.
Upon reading the title, you’d be forgiven for believing this is going to be a hardy quest for adventurers seeking treasures untold, and in truth, there is treasure. However, unlike other RPGs, you’re guarding that treasure from would-be heroes. That’s right, you’re the bad guy in this scenario.
More specifically, you’re the dungeon master, in charge of ensuring that the monsters in your care (we use that term loosely) are up to the task at hand. You can crack the whip, quite literally, as much as you like within this game, but you still need to keep the monsters you’re in charge of happy.
As you can likely already tell, Legend of Keepers is a fun indie game that actively pokes fun at the classic tropes of its genre. From the moment it starts and you’re greeted by an orc dressed in a suit and wearing a fetching nametag, you know you’re in for a lighthearted experience. Granted, there’s some blood and death along the way, but this title is by no means gory – its pixelated graphics stop it from ever getting quite that far.
Arguably, the aesthetic of this title is part of its charm, which it has in abundance. Its retro-inspired graphics help set the tone for the rest of the experience, and yet, despite the nostalgia trip they take us on there’s plenty of modern depth to discover.
Each of the characters you come across, while only being 2D versions of classic hero tropes we know and love, add a sense of familiarity to the game. As too do the dungeons which you set traps in, perfectly placed for when those foolhardy heroes come a callin’.
The scenery is attractive if not awe-inspiring to look at, and while the soundtrack is limited it provides a pleasant backdrop that sets the tone for each round of battles. And yes, there are plenty of battles involved here, though not quite in the epic way you might be anticipating.
Given the fact that Legend of Keepers is set up like a tabletop RPG, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the fighting mechanics are turn-based, letting you relax into a more sedate way of doing things. It does mean that there isn’t instant gratification every time that you might find swinging the sword yourself, but I found my victories to be satisfying, albeit at a steady pace.
The tutorial runs you through the basics, which is ideal for those of us that aren’t experienced with turn-based fighting. You’re also able to go back to previous steps in the tutorial if you’ve missed something, or if you feel you need to go through the details one more time. It doesn’t take long before you’re stuck into the meat of the game, though as always, there’s little hints along the way when new aspects of gameplay pop up. For example, once you’ve completed the first dungeon, you’re then introduced to your team management system.
This part of the game is crucial to success. If you have exhausted monsters with low morale, you’re not going to get very far. Consequently, when you notice some of your team members flagging, make sure to bench them so they can recover for a bit. Within team management, you can also spend coins to improve your team’s stats, however, the cost can be considerable. And, if like me, you get ahead of yourself too early on, you end up without money and therefore unable to properly train your team. The lesson here? Plan. This is a strategy game, after all.
For those concerned that the game could start to become repetitive, there’s quite a few different elements to the gameplay, one of which is multiple dungeons to choose from. There’s also unique events that take place. Nevertheless, I did find that I became less interested in the battling and more interested in my team’s morale, the events, and simply working my way up the dungeon master career ladder. For me, the battles became secondary. Yet, due to the significant role they play in the game, they’re unavoidable.
As with a lot of turn-based, tabletop RPGs such as this, repetition does eventually set in. That being said, I still think Legend of Keepers has enough variety to it that you don’t get bored too quickly. There’s a lot to do and explore, especially if you want to “complete” the game.