I have mixed feelings about Atlus’ The Legend of Legacy, the company’s latest JRPG. I look at this game and I see so much potential. There are a lot of things here that seem so promising, but then they’re met with ideas and concepts that feel like they’re inhibiting my enjoyment of the things that are good. There are times when I really enjoy it, usually when I’ve played for under two hours at a time, but if I spend more than three hours playing, I start to feel frustrated and conflicted.
The Legend of Legacy does a horrible job of explaining itself. It offers you an in-battle suggestion for your first fight, suggesting the Pegasus formation with one blocker, one attacker, and one supporter. Then, it sort of leaves you. It never helps with other strategic options. With my group and game, Eloise was always attacking and using magic, Owen never, ever, stopped blocking, and Liber usually swiped at things with a short sword or healed people when their health was low. It feels like a game where there could have been potential for classes to do more or additional options to be available, but the difficulty doesn’t provide the opportunity to experiment.
This extends to objectives and party members. Unless you’re really searching, diligently leaving no stone unturned, you can miss things in The Legend of Legacy. You could have trouble finding a shard or not realize that the other potential party members are hanging around the town of Initium, just waiting for you to chat them up and recruit them. The former is a big deal, since you kind of need those shards to, you know, beat the game. The latter isn’t so bad, since characters that aren’t in your party don’t gain levels and you’ll probably stick with the three people you started with the entire time.
The Legend of Legacy is really bad at telling its story too. This isn’t the best for a JRPG, and extraordinarily sad. Because this is the part where the Nintendo 3DS game felt like it let me down the most. I was really excited about this title, since it follows the SaGa tradition of offering multiple protagonists with varying viewpoints. I hoped each character would have some kind of story that would really engage me. You know, convince me it’d be worth replaying the game so I could see what everyone’s going through. But the people don’t get much character development. There isn’t too much meat to Eloise’s, or anyone’s, story. It’s disappointing, but also likely a consequence of having too many protagonists. It also ties in well to my previous point. It’s great having so many characters to choose from, especially since you can shape them as you play, but without equal leveling and more appealing storylines, it’s hard to convince yourself to try new people or play again with a different protagonist.
Even the fact that The Legend of Legacy is pretty works against it. It’s something of a combination of Bravely Default and Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, two games I loved. It’s whimsical, vintage, and feels like you’re playing through a pop-up book. Except that mechanic ends up working against you when going through dungeons. It gets annoying not knowing where monsters may lurk, since they could be hiding behind landscape or up in trees. You get an aural notification, but it isn’t as though there’s some radar at play where you can tell where the enemy, or treasure, is. You hear a ping and could be besieged a moment later. (Word of advice. If it’s a bird from a tree, then it’s death from above.)
I think The Legend of Legacy could a prequel to something better. If FuRyu gets to make a second one, I have a feeling it would be vastly improved, or at the very least better balanced. As is, it’s the sort of game I’d recommend playing alongside a second game. Split your time and you’ll reduce your frustrations.
The Legend of Legacy will come to the Nintendo 3DS on October 13.