REVIEW: Brigandine The Legend of Runersia

Friday, June 26th, 2020

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Nitpicks aside, I did really enjoy the combat in Brigandine. It’s simple yet complex, and nuanced enough that I kept learning new tricks as I got farther. My biggest complaint with it is that it starts to feel kind of samey after a few hours. Despite using different groups of monsters, all battles have the same goals and the same flow. I almost wish the various nations were more distinct in the way they battle. And while their commanders will have unique tricks, such as how Gustava can resurrect monsters in the heat of battle, for the most part it all falls into a routine. Then again, I did like features such as how you could force the enemy to retreat by pressuring them enough, and how even your relative strength (expressed by the CP number) doesn’t determine whether you’re bound for failure or success. I especially liked how permadeath only technically exists for your monsters, not for your commanders. Ironically my first casualty for my Mirelva playthrough was a commander named Adieu, but he was fine after resting for a bit. That said, things do change up just when you are on the verge of unifying the continent, so don’t get too complacent.

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Another element of Brigandine that a lot of love was put into is the world building. The lore of this land is really compelling, and the many people that populate Runersia are full of entertaining quirks. Each nation has its own style, such as the haughty arrogance of Mana Saleesia or the determined optimism of Norzaleo. It was hard picking which nation I would play, but I eventually settled on Mirelva for one simple reason – it let me play as pirates! It was a close call, since I was also very tempted to play as the fierce Shinobi Tribe, but there’s no wrong choice. And honestly, it just provides a lot of incentive to replay the game as a different nation later. The Mirelvan pirates are generally full of life and love living it up with debauchery and mayhem. That said, there’s some variety to them as well. There’s the brilliant sorcerer Pluto and my personal favorite, the mechanical man Umimaru. Anytime there’s a top hat and cape wearing robot in the mix, I’m sold. But as much as I love the world building, the writing isn’t quite as enchanting. For the most part it’s well localized, but there’s more than a few typos and errors I encountered. And though I like the characters, the narration is often a bit too verbose and tends towards dryness at times. Maybe I was spoiled by series like Fire Emblem, but I’ve become accustomed to tons of in-depth character development. Here there is some growth, but most of it is focused on the larger narrative instead.

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The one area I absolutely adore Brigandine is the aesthetics. The artwork by lead artist Raita Kazama, of Xenoblade fame, is absolutely stunning and truly a treat for the eyes. Even when the writing isn’t on par, the artwork kept me motivated to keep on playing. The narrative scenes are especially a treat, since they often flow with life and aren’t just static art. All the nations of Brigandine are given wonderful visual definition, and each has distinct traits that set them apart. Take the gothic influence in the Holy Gustava Empire, or the swashbuckling, skin showing Mirelvan pirates. All the assorted commanders look fantastic, even if their character models generally use generic class based designs. And though I didn’t play the game solely for this detail, there’s lots of beautiful women and handsome men in the game. The audio is a stirring and epic refrain, and it works quite well. My biggest issue with it was that I wanted the different nations to have distinct audio themes, just to liven things up. That said, the sound effects and voice acting are top notch. I love the roar of monsters and the loud clash of arms, and the Japanese voice actors all bring life to their characters. Aesthetically speaking, Brigandine is a treat, especially since it’s a Switch exclusive.

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Now, I mostly have positive impressions of Brigandine, but there’s still some areas it fell short of my expectations. One I mentioned earlier is the tutorial’s lack of clarity on some details. While it’s great knowing the basics, this is the sort of deep game that almost requires full understanding of the mechanics. I was never told that using the Y button would bring up an information overlay, showing my total units and which bases produce which monsters, for example. And some things just aren’t as intuitive as they should be. In the Attack Phase, you’d think selecting an attack target would initiate combat, but instead you have to select End Phase, and then combat will commence. And though the quest feature is a helpful way to level up new units, it’s also very time consuming, and you never know when an enemy nation will try and invade your base. I also wish you could selectively recruit new commanders, but they just automatically join you at certain story points. Oh and on the topic of the writing errors, that also translates to some attack descriptions. There’s one spell called Geno-Frost, and it clearly indicates it only hits one enemy. Yet when used, it’s actually an AOE spell, which was a shock. Lastly, while this isn’t exactly a complaint, I was surprised that I couldn’t change Stella’s class, the ruler of Mirelva and my main character, until about 24 hours into my game. After she has a breakthrough about what her Brigandine of Ego means, she effectively changes class, and gets some whopping powerful skills in the bargain. I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long for her revelation.

Brigandine | Pirates Ahoy

Overall I still had a blast with Brigandine The Legend of Runersia. Though I had no previous familiarity with the original game, this long delayed sequel was a lot of fun. And even if it’s a little expensive at $49.99, you’ll more than get your money’s worth, with upwards of 240 hours of main campaign, as well as a challenge mode. While I do wish some things were more clear and that other things were more varied, I still think this is a must own game for any Switch owner. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t order the sweet physical edition from Limited Run Games while I had a chance. But if you’re a fan of tactical styled games and are eager for something meaty, Brigandine is the way to go.

Review Score

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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.

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