By Former Contributor Nathan Stiles / March 29th, 2014
Speaking of difficulty, I would not suggest this game for RPG newcomers. I find it rather pointless to try and give a difficulty rating to most RPGs, because, really, all it comes down to is grinding if you get stuck. The same applies here, but using that strategy would require a lot of grinding. In fact, that’s one of the downsides to this game. If you want to stay fully-equipped at each town, and gain all the spells, you will frequently spend time grinding for money and killing the same monsters until you finally get their spell. This pacing was designed in such a way that if you want to continue through without much downtime, you will need to learn the game’s systems, and actually get good at it, which I applaud. It doesn’t so much punish you for having to grind as it does discourage you from taking the easy way out.
The game’s plot is pretty standard for the most part. In the past, humans in the land of Legaia were granted the gift of Serus from an undefined god. These Seru are creatures that attach themselves to a host human, creating a sort of symbiotic relationship which grants humans increased physical and mental abilities while granting Serus mobility and a reason to live. This all goes terribly wrong, however, when a strange mist begins to cover the world, and causes the Seru and their hosts to go berserk, turning into hideous creatures that kill anything in their path. The mist and these corrupt Serus become so prevalent that humans have to barricade themselves in cities surrounded by giant walls, and their only means of survival is to send out hunting groups to brave the mist and bring back food. It isn’t until the main character’s village is attacked that the people learn the only way to stop the mist from spreading is to bring life back to the mystical Genesis Trees, with the help of mist-immune Seru called Ra-Seru. With this information, and a Ra-Seru of his own, the hero sets out on his quest to save the world from the mist.
This is the tone the game sets and, frankly, I really liked it. Of course, using ‘evil mist’ as a plot device in itself isn’t exactly novel, but they manage to really set a compelling and desperate feel to the world from the very beginning. You feel a sort of sympathy for the world’s inhabitants. On top of that, the source of the mist, the workings of the Seru, and the ‘bad guy’ all remain a mystery for quite some time. Though there was nothing in the plot that really grabbed me and made me feel like I had to keep pressing forward, it was a decent effort, and was interesting enough that I wanted to pay attention and not just skip through the story all together. The strange thing about Legend of Legaia is there really is no central bad guy. The antagonist in this game is the mist, and, though you do discover its origins, and, of course, there is an ending boss, there really isn’t a ‘face’ to the enemy that you learn to hate or want to destroy. Sure, you get a rival who annoys you and tries to manipulate the mist to his own end, but taking him out is a more of side goal to the characters, and not really the central plot. The game covers some rather dark plot elements, so much so that I can’t believe the game got an ‘E’ rating. Overall, I feel that the game’s story is almost more about the people in the villages you save than the main plot itself. It feels fully developed, if nothing else, and I never felt like skipping the plot or dialogue.
Lastly, I will talk about characters, and, before I even begin to delve into this topic, I need to get something off my chest… I HATE silent protagonists. There is no better way to prove you are a lazy writer than to leave a character a blank slate in this way. I don’t buy into the whole ‘It makes you relate to them’ argument, either. If the character is written well enough, people will relate anyway, even if it’s a different gender, different world or even a different species. Unfortunately, Legend of Legaia’s main Hero, Vahn, is a silent protagonist. The choice to make him silent, and the fact that his entire back story is basically skimmed over, really hurt the game’s storytelling, though, luckily, his cohorts fare a bit better. The game only provides you with three party members: The previously mentioned Vahn, the usual bubbly and naive role is filled by the young woman, Noa, and the just-as-common strong-willed and stubborn fighter is played by a monk named Gala. While they are all based on highly clichéd archetypes, they fill their roles well, and have proper motivation for keeping the plot on track most of the time.
Overall, Legend of Legaia is an interesting and experimental RPG, and one that I actually struggled with a bit to review. I never felt like I was bored, but it was also never a game I really craved playing either. It’s definitely not a bad game, it’s just sort of painfully average with the exception of the battle system. It’s still a game I can recommend to the right kind of gamer. If you are a hardcore fan who has already played his/her fair share of old school RPGs, but wants to try something that has a bit of a different spin to it, I highly suggest you give this game a look. It’s not revolutionary, but it is an interesting bit of RPG history, and worth at least one playthrough. If you are interested, the game will run you about $30 used. It’s a decent length, taking about 45 hours to complete, so I’d say it’s worth it. I think a good analogy would be to compare it to skydiving: At first, the idea is appealing, but, by the time you are in the plane, you may be skeptical. The jump is fulfilling, though painful, at times, and, by the end you will feel that once was enough.
Review copy supplied by author.
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