IMPRESSIONS: Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia Demo

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

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Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. It’s a rare occurrence, but I could tell when I saw the first news about Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia that I would love this game. And that’s without me having any experience with the PS One game it was based on! Now that Happinet has kindly released an eShop demo, I finally dug in to see what the world of Runersia is like. Spoiler alert, I really enjoyed it, but to see why, please keep reading!

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The Brigandine demo is split into two parts. One is an optional tutorial, and the other is trial mode, with you using the tools at your disposal to secure victory. While it probably wasn’t necessary, I rolled through the extensive tutorial first. It’s separated into multiple segments based around different aspects of the game, including organizing and mobilizing troops, combat, leveling up and much more. Essentially the game forces you to progress through checklists to show your understanding. These are often relatively long, upwards of 10 plus steps, but they’re not that hard to grasp. So long as you pay attention and read the prompts, the tutorial is a breeze.

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I will say, it’s quickly apparent from the Brigandine tutorial that this is gonna be a massive full game experience. Though I mostly understood and internalized the tutorial, it’s clear there’s a lot of complexity at play. From mobilizing troops of knights and monsters to going on quests to acquire equipment or recruit monsters to using hexagonal attack patterns to lock enemy forces, it’s pretty intensive. Thankfully I live for that sort of complexity, so the tutorial did a good job of whetting my appetite. It was nice to finish the last tutorial mission and move onto the real thing, the trial mode.

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Part of the reason I was so quickly drawn to Brigandine was the splashy static art. As a video game fan and a comic book nerd, I love lush, detailed artwork. The art here is like a vibrant watercolor painting, mixed with tons of anime trappings. For example, there’s some very buxom ladies and some very effeminate men, and all the gamut in between. But the key thing to remember is this – it’s all beautiful. I especially appreciate how the cutscenes spring to life like living comic books, expanding and growing in detail as the text scrolls. The only negative to this approach is it made it a challenge for me to take all the screencaps I love, but that’s a minor quibble.

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In the trial itself, you’re locked into Easy mode and forced to pick Rubino as your ruler. Though the game does note that’s only for the purposes of the demo, and that the full version will allow you to pick from many factions. I’m actually glad the game took this approach, since it let me just play around and learn by doing. Since we went with Rubino’s story, we got to see how his initially idyllic kingdom is thrown into chaos by the sudden and shocking murder of his father, the king. One thing that was nice was picking up on the undercurrents of subterfuge and paranoia written into the story. It made me wonder what’s really going on. All of this is against the backdrop of a world where mana has empowered Rune Knights to either go on tales of conquest or unification. Often these Rune Knights are driven to madness by this magical power, and the most concentrated artifacts of mana are the titular Brigandine, several gems of massive importance. It all made me really eager to jump into the full game, and see if my suppositions regarding the intrigue are proven correct.

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But you’re not here to read my narrative speculation, you’re here for the demo. And I’m happy to concur that the gameplay in Brigandine is looking great, even this early. Other than my brief confusion about not being able to move and attack in the same phase, things clicked into place pretty quickly. I learned that it was good to muster my forces at forts to concentrate my strength, and I spent a few turns going on small quests to gather tools and grow in power. I even recruited one new unit just for the hell of it. The demo locks you into 10 seasons, which is essentially 10 turns of both organizing and moving your units. Your ultimate goal is to liberate Warren, and I managed to do so without too much issue. That’s mostly due to the fact this demo was forced to Easy mode, which meant my foes weren’t constantly trying to invade my own kingdom. That said, once I was in combat, things weren’t a pushover.

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Sure I wasn’t overwhelmed by enemy forces in my liberation of Warren, but I also didn’t manage it without casualties. Though I’m not sure whether or not Brigandine features permadeath, I did lose a few of my monster soldiers. Thankfully, I didn’t lose any of my commanders, so I did reasonably well. I really liked how you could organize your units in a defensive hexagon to block enemy movement, or circle around foes to deal more damage. And though the graphics aren’t as impressive as the static art in the game, it’s far from unattractive. There’s good diversity on display, from goblins to dragons to centaurs to hulking golems. Better yet, all the monsters and human soldiers have different skills at their disposal, allowing for really tactical strategy.

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Ultimately, I’m even more excited for Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia now than I was just a month or two ago. I honestly think this has the potential to be one of the best tactical RPGs of the year, with echoes of games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem and even Pokémon Conquest. While there were some minor issues like some grammatical flubs and typos, it’s nothing that took me out of the experience for long. Stay tuned to oprainfall for more news about Brigandine as it hits!

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About Josh Speer

Josh is a passionate gamer, finding time to clock in around 30-40 hours of gaming a week. He discovered Operation Rainfall while avidly following the localization of the Big 3 Wii RPGs. He enjoys SHMUPS, Platformers, RPGs, Roguelikes and the occasional Fighter. He’s also an unashamedly giant Mega Man fan, having played the series since he was eight. As Head Editor and Review Manager, he spends far too much time editing reviews and random articles. In his limited spare time he devours indies whole and anticipates the release of quirky, unpredictable and innovative games.