The Legend of Legacy

Spiritual sequels are no stranger to the roleplaying game genre. The Metroidvania/Castleroid Castlevania titles, for instance, can trace their origin to the first Castlevania sequel, Simon’s Quest. The original Star Ocean was a spiritual successor to Tales of Phantasia, given its unique take on real-time combat and many of the same developers that formed tri-Ace. More recently, The Legend of Legacy is a spiritual follow-up to Square-Enix’s SaGa series (which itself succeeded the unique Final Fantasy II), given its oddball take on turn-based combat and character development, a formula that works for the most part.

Outside battle, each of the seven acquirable characters can equip two weapons (shields among them), several pieces of equipment, and two accessories. Among accessories are Singing Shards with which a character can form a contract with its respective elemental in battle: water, wind, and fire. Alongside them are Whispering Shards that allow a character, once they’ve contracted an element, to cast a specific spell, with a random chance in battle of making that skill a permanent part of their skill inventory. Enemies too can forge contracts with the elements, with tugs-of-war occasionally occurring with the elementals, one which can hold the key to victory in some of the toughest battles.

Furthermore, in the main game interface, the player can create a finite number of three-character formations, with one stance per character of three different types: attack, defense, and support, representing damaging arts, defensive arts, and non-damage-dealing magical abilities. There is unfortunately a limit to how many formations a player can create, which can be a burden given the need at times to go into the menus to adjust formations, with players mayhap wishing to develop the three active characters (parties changeable at the main inn) uniquely. Players may occasionally gain new stances from NPCs that wander dungeons when the player has sold a map of that dungeon to the base town’s shop.

All skills in The Legend of Legacy consume skill points, with weapon and shield skills having the potential to be added to a character’s ability set alongside magic, base techniques randomly sparking into more powerful abilities, and no limit to how much a character can learn. Specific arts can be particularly useful, such as physical skills that hit all enemies, which can make mincemeat of even the most powerful enemies that wander about dungeons, though unfortunately, they always charge the player when they draw near, a step down from the superior encounter systems of other RPGs such as EarthBound and its sequel.

There are occasional powerful bosses in the game, though fortunately, most are optional, but the final boss battles can potentially be hurdles preventing players from viewing a chosen character’s ending. However, there are certain tricks that can actually hold key to victory against these adversaries, such as defense skills that allow a character to nullify damage completely and unleash an effective counterattack. The aforementioned elemental tugs-of-war can rarely make or break boss fights, as well, given that innate effects such as hit point and skill recovery can be the difference between victory and defeat. Aside from the apparent randomization of skill and stat acquisition after battle, the gameplay works for the most part, although some may be lost.

Despite being nonlinear, it’s not terribly difficult to get lost in the world of The Legend of Legacy, with automaps formulating as players traverse dungeons, although this player did indeed get lost on a few occasions, needing to refer to a guide to determine how to advance, with certain areas devoid of mapping capabilities, alongside unadjustable text speed and unskippable cutscenes, particularly that preceding the final bosses. The primary game menus aren’t terribly taxing, though, and inventory space seems infinite, accounting for general user-friendliness.

The low point of The Legend of Legacy is its narrative, hardly a surprise in a nonlinear title, given vague objectives and characters that only receive the slightest bit of development when the player chooses among them upon starting a new game. There is occasional backstory to each area, although the game’s writers could have certainly made a better effort to tell a more intriguing tale.

Masashi Hamauzu, composer of later SaGa games, provides the soundtrack, which has a few nice tracks, although many areas rely on ambience. There is occasional voice acting from a female narrator and frog croaking sounds from the amphibian protagonist Filmia, and overall, the game sounds decent.

The visuals look nice, as well, having a style similar to Bravely Default, although in most areas, specific portions of scenery have a habit of popping up when the player draws near, sometimes being annoying, for instance, when the player travels an open path only to find out debris blocks their passage.

Finally, total playing time can vary dramatically, with the game potentially a breeze given the relative limited number of explorable areas, although how well the player grasps and exploits the mechanisms can determine how much total time they spend in Avalon; before referencing guides, this reviewer played for a little over ninety hours.

Overall, The Legend of Legacy is for the most part an enjoyable take on the SaGa formula, given its unique turn-based mechanisms, nonlinearity without, for most of the time, leaving the player lost, good soundtrack and voicework, nice graphics, and superb replayability in the seven different protagonists and New Game+. However, it imitates Square-Enix’s oddball franchise to the point where it copies their flaws, given vague objectives at times and the seeming randomization of skill and stat gains, alongside the occasional need to reference a guide. Despite spending close to a hundred hours without fully comprehending the mechanisms and various tricks to success against bosses, this reviewer definitely doesn’t regret his experience.

The Good:
+Good SaGa-esque battle system.
+Nonlinear without leaving player (most of the time) lost.
+Enjoyable soundtrack and voicework.
+Nice visuals.
+Superb replayability.

The Bad:
-Finite formations.
-Stat and skill gains seem random at times.
-Some parts may require a guide.
-Little to no music in many areas.
-Scarce storyline.

The Bottom Line:
A fun take on the SaGa formula.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 7/10
Controls: 7/10
Story: 6/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Hard
Playing Time: 50+ Hours

Overall: 8/10

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