By Drew D. / December 13th, 2019
|Title||Legend of Everything|
Nov 8, 2019
|Age Rating||N/A (veiled nudity, suggestive dialogue)|
Legend of Everything is an isekai visual novel by developer Kidalang which attempts to break away from the common tropes seen in both this genre and VNs. For those unfamiliar with the term, isekai refers to a genre of storytelling in which the main character is born or transported to another world, one that is more often considered fantasy in comparison to the character’s origin world. These stories will typically follow the main character as they meet natives of the new world and begin their new life, adjusting to differences and resolving conflicts that come with the new fantastic locales and its peoples. Legend of Everything, however, takes this concept and tries something drastic.
Legend of Everything changes the formula of isekai by starting us off in the supposed fantasy world. We follow the story of Brane, a volunteer soldier who joins a campaign to rescue his kingdom’s princess from a demon lord. As the campaign fails and the survivors are told to retreat and regroup, he gets separated from his group and stumbles upon a young woman named Electra Bernhard. Electra has no memory of how she arrived in this world, but soon realizes that she is now in a world reminiscent of an RPG from hers. It seems she has been transported to what she considers the game’s world. And so she lets Brane join her party and sets out to save the princess because that’s what the protagonist, of whom she believes she is now, does in these kinds of games. Meanwhile, Brane follows, having similar goals, yet not understanding a word of what Electra is talking about.
So from the start, we actually follow Brane, who feels like a side-character in this supposed game world as he joins Electra in her initially jovial quest to save the princess. Along the way, Electra speaks of completing side quests and grinding to level up and becoming strong enough to defeat the demon lord. What makes Legend of Everything intriguing, however, is that this is definitely not just a story that follows Electra’s seemingly obvious quest to save someone and complete the main quest akin to completing any RPG. Discussions on classical mechanics, theoretical physics, digital logic, relativity and other physics and computing topics soon take over the main focus, as describing the game world using real-world applications becomes the drive of the story. Electra, being a physics student, explains events in this fantasy world by drawing these comparisons. There is also a philosophical element, though not nearly as pronounced as the physics discussions, in which Brane is ever questioning what Electra says, especially when it comes to his reality and existence. Electra claims Brane’s world is fictitious, yet this world is all Brane knows and understands. This brings into question which world or existence is the real one, assuming any of their existences can be called real at all.
Despite the sheer ambition, the story’s execution is a mixed bag. The overarching story is mostly captivating until the end and there are plenty of thought-provoking questions posed to hold interest, as well as to make the plot twists and mystery reveals worthwhile and impactful. The overall tone is lighthearted and there is plenty of humor too, which helps against the prevalent dryness. At times, this is a fun, fascinating story to experience with enough to keep one entertained.
But, then there are the missteps to the story’s presentation. As I said, much of the narrative is driven by discussions in theoretical physics, as the characters draw conclusions of the relationships between the real world and the fantasy one. Though it can be intriguing at times, much of the narrative in regards to this is presented via lengthy and dry exposition. Regardless of whether the information is disguised as character thought processes and the making of new discoveries through scenes and interactive dialogue, the outcomes are still dry and weighty, like reading a textbook, in their delivery. It’s also far too much explanation during dialogue to the point that it affects pacing. One moment you’ll be reading about the journey and the fantasy elements of it, but then you’ll come to a screeching halt as the discussion shifts to quantum mechanics for the next several paragraphs. Many times, it just feels like the physics topics are being dumped onto the reader. Not only does this break game flow, it also destroys immersion. Perhaps their worst offenses are when these discussions pervade and interrupt the most exciting moments of the game, in which climax and emotional buildup come crashing down with yet another textbook-like series of explanations. While the topics themselves can be interesting, the way they’re presented and the length at which many of these dialogues drag on makes the entire experience exhausting. Large walls of text, even when necessary for explaining advanced theoretical concepts, will never end well. It’s a shame the presentation is so dry and taxing rather than having been broken down into more manageable pieces, as some of the game’s story logic is pretty incredible and, again, thought provoking. Unfortunately, the narrative strengths reveal themselves too few and far between to make up for the sheer drain on the reader.
Legend of Everything’s characters are also a mixed bag, as many aren’t built up to a memorable level and that hurts all the more for a visual novel. The perspective of playing as Brane rather than Electra as he struggles to come to terms with his existence is clever and the tie in questions of existence itself are equally riveting. However, Brane is truly a side-character at best, posing for us the obvious questions one would most likely ask in the given situations. He is bland, lacking any distinct characteristics that could distinguish him. He fails to stand out or establish himself as a memorable character, despite playing from his perspective. He is so unspectacular that, at times, you may wonder whether the devs’ decision to follow Brane’s perspective was really the right call.
Electra fares far better in her design, for she at least has personality. As the self-proclaimed protagonist of this story, she’s energetic, brash, and a bit of a geek. Her dialogue also suggests she is gay or bi in the beginning, as she humorously speaks of wanting a heroine to join her and not simply to journey alongside with. However, outside of these initial character traits, we don’t see much else. There is no development or evolution to her character, rather she mostly stays the same throughout. The element of her sexual orientation is soon abandoned, as she states she is straight, and only continually used as a means for humor. Even as mysteries are revealed and truths are tackled, her behavior abides by her initial formula. Even worse, she and the rest of the cast that participate in these physics based discussions are completely overshadowed by the dry exposition. Instead of characters engaged in discussion, it feels like a lecture. There are major missed opportunities to see additional sides to Electra that could have served to better define her character or develop her across the length of the story. Yet having said all of that, what she has helps add humor and mood to the narrative and her striking personality is strong enough to permeate the exposition and stand out in the end.
As for the other characters, they, too, suffer from a lack of depth and development. Their personalities are familiar and form-fitting, simply serving as devices to move the story along when additional characters are needed to do so. I will say Quarrey’s overly static personality does lend itself to a number of humorous moments, as well as Posy’s tangential side-stories, as she tries to fight for catgirl rights. I also appreciate the swiftness all of the characters have in labeling Brane a pervert and harem seeker. It definitely helps to break the monotony of the physics discussions. Overall, I realize that this is a visual novel and not a proper piece of literature, but I did expect to see more depth and evolution from the characters overall than what we actually receive.
Moving to gameplay, the only interactions the players have are in making inconsequential decisions, such as choosing locations or choosing which extra wall of text you wish to read from a menu. This could have easily been a kinetic novel, as there is only a single, linear storyline. Though, I did like the options to visit alternative locations before continuing the main plot. Visiting locations most often lent themselves to character backstories and interactions. I would have liked more of these, as I would have also liked to have seen these visitations used to perhaps hide plot hints or further develop the characters. At the least, they could have helped adjust pacing and break up those walls of text into more approachable forms.
As for its build quality, the overall product is solid. The use of Ren’py works well and I found zero problems with functionality. Having rollback enabled from the get-go helps whenever I needed to re-read or when I clicked too fast. I experienced zero slowdowns, hangs, crashes, or bugs. Build quality is sound and lightweight, so those using older systems should also experience zero problems.
With visual novels, a strong aesthetic presentation can support the story and its characters, raising the overall quality to new levels. In this instance, however, the visuals neither add nor detract. The devs for Legend of Everything decided to use a 3-D modeling/ posing program to create their visuals. It feels like the visuals were not a priority, as the overall presentation has a dated and uninspired feel. The visuals aren’t awful, but they fail to enhance the story and characters, instead simply serving as something to look at while we read. I will say that I appreciated the efforts that went into varying the characters’ facial expressions. It’s a small touch, but one that stands out against the minimalism the posing software begets. As for the audio, Legend of Everything has a satisfactory soundtrack, one that fits the fantasy world, as well as the humorous, lighthearted mood of the game. The tracks fit their locations and events on-screen and also bolster the narrative. Not the strongest sound score I’ve listened to, but it helps, especially with the inability of the visuals to support in a significant way.
Legend of Everything is an intriguing attempt to change the traditional isekai formula, offering an entertaining story sprinkled with metaphysical bemusement. Glimmers of emotional depth and a fantasy story that brings reality into question make for an amusing journey. The mysteries and questions posed are engaging and the humor keeps the journey lighthearted throughout. Yet, the lack of deep, diverse characters, their utter lack of development or growth, the agonizing over-dependence on exposition, the awful pacing that results, and finally the uninspiring aesthetics all detract from Legend of Everything’s ability to fully immerse its players. If you have the patience, endurance, or you’re incredibly passionate for modern and theoretical physics, this VN may be worth a look. I will say that there is zero lack of content and assuming you do read everything there is to read, this VN will easily take you beyond the 15+ hour range to complete. Despite faltering with its dry, uninspired execution, Legend of Everything is a fantastic idea full of ambition.
Review copy provided by publisher
IsekaikidalangLegend of Everythingvisual novelVN