Legend of Legacy HD Remastered Review

Legend of Meh-gacy

Originally a 3DS title released back in 2015, Legend of Legacy is the latest of a series of JRPGs to be given the HD Remaster treatment for modern consoles. I didn’t get a chance to play this back in the day, but I was aware of the game and later fell in love with The Alliance Alive from the same studio, so where better to jump in than a remaster? 

Picking your hero from a small selection and then naming them, you’re thrown onto the Isle of Avalon with a small party of adventurers and, after a short interlude with the Lord of the island in Initium, begin exploring the island to search out its secrets. Within this world, you will engage in all the standard JRPG trimmings including fights, dungeons, chatting with NPCs and recruiting new party members to join your increasingly motley crew. 

The main objective is to explore the various regions of the world. As you wander around, you will slowly fill in the maps, with a satisfying little pencil scratching noise when you complete one. Each area is split into smaller ones, with each one having its own map to complete. Then once you have completed all the maps in an area, you can sell them back to the Shop in Initium.  

Be aware you can only sell a map set once, regardless of how completed it might be at the time, so if you still have some corners of a map to fill in make sure you do so before you trade it in. 

The combat takes place in a standard turn-based format with standard roles in place, and your archetypal medieval weapons to use. You’ll take turns with the enemy hitting each other, and the ones that survive the hitting win. However, this would be a dull experience if that’s all there was to it, and Legend of Legacy has got you covered with a host of neat little twists on the formula. 

The first and biggest is a twist found in the combat system – Formations. This allows you to change around the placements of your party members each turn depending on where and how you might need them. For instance, you might need to move your lower defense characters to the back row to reduce the damage they take while you heal the party or bring your tankier character forward to defend the others. 

With the Formations you can assign each party member a position based on their role for this next turn, whether that be guarding other party members, attacking enemies or supporting the other members. There are presets for this, but you can create your own Formations to best suit how you play the game, and they can be further customised as you unlock new stances during your journey. 

You’ll also be at the whim of the Elementals in the world. These mysterious entities will have a particular effect over the areas you walk through, with the compass in the top right indicating if a particular element is strong there. You can engage with Spirit-Perches to increase an element’s power in the nearby area. This can alter aspects of the world around it or create a contract with that element for battles. 

These contracts are how the magic system works in Legend of Legacy. When you have a contract with an element and the correct Charm equipped, you can cast powerful spells in battle. Also, an element’s strength in an area will also have a passive effect on the battle such as a prevalence of air increasing defence against physical skills for both your party and all enemies too. So, this needs to be balanced very carefully. 

Oh, and if you try to cast a spell without a contract active, it will just fail, so that’s fun too. 

As another quirk of the gameplay, your characters don’t level up in the standard way in JRPGs, instead falling into a system much like Final Fantasy II. You gain stat increases from battles occasionally, but these are randomised stat increases based on the usage of the characters. This also extends to your abilities, with new abilities (called ‘Arts’) for weapons being learned as you use that specific weapon. 

This is where my biggest bugbear with this game rears its head. As your stat increases are randomised and weapon skills linked to that weapon’s use, it quite literally crushes any reason to experiment. There’s no point changing your weapons based on new types you find – no matter if they might be better against a new enemy – as you’re back at square one with no abilities for this new weapon, lowering your character’s efficacy dramatically. 

Worse still, this also applies to the new potential party members you meet. As these new characters haven’t been “used” they start at the beginning with few Arts and none of the stat increases you have gained on your party. So, you only really benefit from sticking with the same party the whole time, which was a huge mood killer for me personally when I acquired the cute little frog guy and had to grind to make him at all useful. 

Once you get into the groove with it, the gameplay is smooth, with most battles taking a matter of moments to play out. The only exceptions to this being the stark and sudden spikes in difficulty that happen throughout the game. I have to say though that these spikes do bring excitement to the game, especially considering that the narrative is incredibly intermittent in how it’s told, and the exploration is repetitive. 

With the difficulty spikes though, the worst thing to happen if your entire party drops to 0HP is being returned to the beginning of the current area you are exploring. It still feels a touch unfair to be blindsided by an enemy far stronger than anything else around it without warning, but the overall penalty isn’t terrible even if it’s inconvenient. 

All this said, one area this game doesn’t scrimp on is the presentation. The chibi character design and colourful storybook effect on the design of the world perfectly mesh to create clear and beautiful visual style. This style was gorgeous already on the 3DS, but the HD remaster really enhances the visuals. Then when paired with the simple but effective score, you have a game that just FEELS handcrafted with care. 

Summary
Although I see what it was going for, Legend of Legacy HD Remastered doesn’t quite stick the landing. The visuals and music are excellent, and the concept of filling maps out through exploration scratches a very specific yet satisfying itch. But, the repetitive nature of the overall gameplay, along with punishing you for any sort of experimentation with characters or weapon loadouts, leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, overall.
Good
  • Gorgeous to behold
  • Excellent score
  • Fun mapping mechanic
Bad
  • Zero reason to experiment
  • Sudden difficulty spikes
  • Repetitive gameplay
5

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