A decent tribute to the JRPG glory days.

A decent tribute to the JRPG glory days.

Game: Legrand Legacy

Developer: Semisoft

Publisher: Another Indie, Mayflower Entertainment [KR]

Reviewed: PC

Eight months in the maturation chamber has taken Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds from a refreshing, combative adventure game of fledgling narrative to a full blown odyssey that celebrates the arcane spirit of Fire Emblem and Suikoden. It’s a slow-burn tribute that walks a dynamic tightrope; dynamic in the sense each battle possesses an unpredictable, eye-catching mixture of enemies while maintaining a tense but riveting tempo, and tribute in the sense Legrand Legacy‘s gorgeous, 3D cinematic sequences and world-building telegraph a degree of depth JRPG classics would be proud of.  

The love letter begins in Tel Harran, teleporting players through an Arabian pensieve to a world of magical beings, closely guarded prophecies, and wayward souls. At long last, territories beyond the Rahas Desert are open for inspection, and much like preliminary locus Shapur, Dringr’s Keep and bustling seaport metropolis Danabad are convincing in most aspects; watery ochre backgrounds are a beautiful staple (though the traversible world map is too fuzzy), gentle melodic ambience befits the sombre story at hand, and your typical line-up of merchants and over inquisitive villagers definitely add heart. The underlying tale — a chimera of redemption and revenge — is delivered with evident passion and deserves praise for what it sets out to do, but would Scheherazade get away with it? Maybe just.

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Legrand Legacy assumes an expository position a little too soon, using its characters to spell out the intriguing plot rather than using economy in the dialogue. Less is more. Perhaps the noorn Gedo exemplifies this kind of brevity best. Even Finn, the game’s forgetful ‘peasant’ protagonist, skews towards oversharing, and conversations with companions and strangers alike become unnecessarily long. And yet, this shakily written hand exudes an innocent charm in small, literary explosions, which is completely understandable given the nature of the letter it is writing. The fantasy building blocks are all there; now all it needs is some experience on love’s battlefield.

Speaking of battles, Legrand Legacy‘s combat system remains a refreshingly fun adaptation of the run of the mill turn-based RPG. Like the spike of adrenaline Mario instills whenever he slides too close to the edge, Legrand‘s timed action sequences give players a limited window of opportunity in which to strike or defend. In theory, the concept of dealing greater damage and/or barricading your character more effectively if you fall within the ‘good’ zone is original and logical. In practice, it’s both nailbiting and frustrating. For me, there was a slight delay between key press and attack execution on screen, so I found myself nervously (but excitedly) predicting the best time.

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What confused me was the discrepancy between regular attacks and ‘Arcana’, a unique, special skill of godly might that unlocks when your AP (action point) meter is full. It’s basically your get out of jail free card, and I happily used it to escape incarceration many a time. But Arcana trigger instantaneously. There’s no input latency at all, and I’m unsure if this inconsistency is due to my laptop’s horrible frame rate, or whether it’s ingrained in the mechanics. If it’s the latter, instant feedback would be more cohesive across the board.

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So while Legrand Legacy may tip the scales in favour of story, battle is an essential component of the mix. There’s a good variety of phantasmal beasts to duel, too, although it’s likely you’ll find it becomes a bit of a grind a few hours in, especially when you don’t eliminate a foe in one go. Fortunately, that doesn’t strip away too much enjoyment. You can use a mouse and keyboard combination to play, but I strongly recommend going the controller route as there’s full support and movement feels much smoother and natural overall.

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It goes without saying Legrand Legacy‘s love letter to the golden age of JRPGs is very much requited. Its elongated narrative choices lessen the impact, though simmering beneath is a tempting tale of considerable depth, told with passion and youthful glee. A tale which is complemented by entertaining rounds of repetitive yet well-designed combat that will momentarily captivate. As a tribute, Semisoft’s debut darling rises to the challenge, yet there’s a great deal of untapped potential still hidden in Legrand’s universe.

Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds is out now through Steam, the Humble StoreGame Jolt, and GOG.com.

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