The modern era of video games has brought with it a boom of classic JRPG-style games. With the popularity of Persona, Fire Emblem and Pokémon ensuring the genre’s continuing success, it’s no surprise, then, that games like Legrand Legacy exist — games designed to celebrate the history and personality of JRPGs from the past.
Legrand Legacy, a self-proclaimed ‘love letter’ to classic JRPGS, follows the struggles of Finn, an amnesiac slave, as he becomes one of the Fatebounds, a group prophesied to end the Mugna Feud that threatens to destroy Legrand. The story is aided by an immediately intriguing introduction, and a mystery that hangs over the entire game.
Legrand Legacy features a tale filled with unique lore, from the struggle of the Fatebounds to the legacy of the ancient Dringr – it’s a shame, then, that it falls so often into commonplace, rudimentary JRPG tropes. While part of this is by design, there were several story beats and elements, such as Finn’s convenient memory loss, that felt too well trodden to make an impact. The JRPG genre has advanced tenfold since its inception, and for good reasons – nostalgia, after all, can be a deceptive force.
This nostalgia is most obvious in the combat system employed by Legrand – a turn-based system reliant on quick-time reactions. By landing blows directly on ‘perfect’, players have a chance to interrupt enemy attacks with a powerful blow. This technique becomes essential as enemies become more complex the further the game progresses.
It’s unfortunate, then, that the reaction system often suffers from jerky, uneven movements that made it impossible to land a precise blow (although this may have been a product of the review build, as it only happened sporadically). After working through some initial teething problems, the system became a bit more fun, if a little repetitive. The constant enemy bombardment and surprise attacks from all sides didn’t endear me to the combat systems either.
From the first battle, Legrand Legacy has a steep learning curve, one characterised by difficult enemies with devastating attacks. Like most JRPGs, it’s punishing in its brutality – if you die in battle, all progress since your last save is lost. Given that you can only save in ‘safe’ areas such as towns, camps and caves, this came mean hours of lost progress, and endless frustration.
In order to progress through the towns and valleys of Legrand Legacy, players must traverse a variety of environments, including desert sands. Walking becomes a slow, frustrating endeavour, particularly with the inclusion of quicksand. Travelling through the desert had me repeating I don’t like sand. I don’t like sand. I don’t like sand. But thankfully, and mercifully, the pain was over soon.
That said, when Legrand Legacy is at its best, it is a gorgeous and genuinely interesting romp through stunning, hand-painted landscapes and a wholly different world. The mysteries at the core of Legrand – Finn’s amnesia, the history of the Fatebounds, the legacy of the Mugna Feud – all contribute to a solid, lore-heavy narrative.
For those well versed in JRPGs, there’s plenty of deep lore and history to engage with, and to that end, Legrand Legacy introduces a realistic, well-rounded world populated by believable and well-written characters. Finn’s struggle isn’t anything new, but through dialogue, and his relationships with the other members of the Fatebounds, he becomes a reliable and relatable protagonist.
Likewise, the burden placed on companion Aria, and her arrogant facade, reveals layers about her personality, and her quest. Occasionally suffering from naff and awkward dialogue, these interactions remain heartfelt, and its the relationship between the Fatebounds that contributes to the strength of the overarching narrative.
Legrand Legacy is, at its core, what it claims to be – a loving and well-made JRPG tribute that features some great ideas, interesting characters, and a unique story. Despite this, it’s held down by a rudimentary combat system and occasionally frustrating gameplay that dampens the overall experience.
Review Score: 6.0/10
Highlights: Great characters; Beautiful landscapes; Deep lore
Lowlights: Combat system; Frustrating gameplay; Patchy writing
Release Date: January 24th, 2018
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