Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this is surprisingly much more out of the box from what you would’ve expected after SaGa. Most prominently, it has a style of story progression that allows you to quite literally go forward however you please – by opening up the world to you through unlocking maps via unstated objectives. Now, I don’t favor open world titles above linear games just for the sake of them being open world, but I do appreciate it when they’re done as well as it is here. I could play through Legend of Legacy as quickly or as slowly as I pleased in whichever order, with the intention being making the player feel like a real adventurer exploring uncharted territory, which it succeeds in spades all the way to the end. So if you’re coming out of Bravely Second rather dissatisfied, Legacy unwinds those linear genre conventions and shares more similarities with A Link to the Past in its range of freedom. Even the individual map’s bosses are more often than not just a part of the scenery as they roam the map aimlessly alongside the other mobs. But in exchange, the game can be brutal when you don’t know how to progress any further after fully exploring an area (while refusing to look at walkthroughs) and scouring the entire map looking for any possible clues. But this is also what adds charm to the game, as the game allows you to sell the maps you complete by exploring more of the wilderness. The more of the map you’ve filled, the more money you can sell them for, and it’s pretty rewarding to earn large sums of money for them.
Yet on the other hand, it’s worth noting that the turn-based combat is about as traditional as one can get apart from its lack of any level system. There can only be three characters at a time in your party, and in-battle you can utilize the elemental spirits in your environment for various effects like HP regeneration while customizing your stances outside of battle to affect turn order and defense. As a result, building an effective party is critical, yet also entirely up to you, and since there’s only so many roles possible in a 3-person team you’ll have to make sure everyone pulls their weight. Upon a new game, you can choose a protagonist among a huge selection of characters to begin your story with, and choosing the right character from the start makes the confusing lack of narrative that much better. I personally chose Filmia (the awesome frog that’s an obvious throwback) despite his rather one dimensionality in combat, as I found his small quips that much more interesting. In the small town of Initium, you’ll see the characters that you didn’t choose on the starting screen wandering about for you to recruit, and it’s really up to you to make sure everyone stays leveled up. I decided not to change up my starting trio of Filmia, Bianca, and Liber very much, as my play style is always offensive and Filmia is rather bulky anyways. But what makes the turn-based combat a little more interesting is its integration into the exploration mechanic – however much HP your party lost in-battle doesn’t entirely carry over into the next encounter, unless a character went down to 0 in which case they’d be at a fraction of their full HP the next battle. This means that as you go deeper into the wilderness, the less comfortable you are facing stronger enemies – so it encourages you to go back to town every now and again to sleep, restock, and retread. If a battle gets too tough you can always run away to the start of the map.
In any case, the game is extremely tedious if you don’t have interesting members in your party, as you’re going to have to grind in order to raise the level on your attacks and stats. Heaven forbid you start with Meurs or Owen as they’re the blandest characters in the game. As with any of these games that allow you to choose your protagonists, your experience may vary depending on the narrative you develop for your own party. As I like to mention in any of my previous reviews, it’s important for this kind of game to be a good character story over any kind of overarching plot, and most of these characters are interesting enough to keep your interest to the end. In this way it really does remind me of Rune Factory 4. Legend of Legacy is an excellent game to sink hours into if you don’t mind traditional turn based combat and hands off free-roaming. The plot is simple, yet clocks out over 40+ hours. But because of this, all of the characters in your party don’t feel like cutouts and get fleshed out believably, and the buildup gets used well by closing off satisfyingly. So yeah, it’s not a game that’s going to be very important to Masato Kato’s repertoire or to the 3DS RPG genre, but what it does well, it does well in spades. It does have its weaknesses where it goes too far in its efforts to let you do whatever you want, by sacrificing any sense of a greater purpose to your gameplay, but it works alright without one. To top it off, visually, the game is perfect. You can see influences of the SaGa games where they like to spam the screen with useless objects (like a giant conch, ruins, etc) but also the more subtle things. Each of the characters walk in their own unique way, and the characters move with their own unique poses and styles. This game is nearly a year old and I haven’t seen much buzz about it and it’s truly a shame. While games like Bravely Default continue to earn praise for its “traditional” gameplay, it’s games like Legacy which are the true throwbacks to a time when a game’s story was simply something to be discovered through gameplay.
|Storytelling:||7/10 Open ended, it depends what you make of it on your playthrough.|
|Gameplay:||7/10 Very traditional combat, but a unique story progression system and an interesting cast of party members keep everything from becoming too tedious and stale.|
|User Interface:||8/10 Convenient quick saves, but otherwise a laughable options menu without even text speed adjustment.|
|Production values:||10/10 Looks great, and the score is amazing.|
Bravely Default/Second (3DS)
Rune Factory 4 (3DS)
Etrian Odyssey (DS)