Legrand Legacy Review – Copied with Love
Platforms: PC, (Switch in Q3, PS4, Xbox One in Q1 2019)
Publisher: Another Indie
Release: 24th January 2018
This January Lost Sphear might have been the classic JRPG with way more marketing, but in the shadow of Square Enix’ sequel, a little Asian indie studio released their own attempt at this genre called Legrand Legacy. Promising a game similar to early JRPGs, complete with turn-based combat, hand-drawn backgrounds and much more, it´s certainly an ambitious project.
As many other RPGs, Legrand Legacy has a rather boring set-up for its story. Focusing on the slave Finn, who not only suffers from amnesia but is also sentenced to death after a fight to the death he shouldn´t have won. Surprisingly, an old traveller buys him of his former owners. At the same time, the population is hoping for the Fatebound´s arrival, able to end the war, which destroys Legrand.
Anyone familiar with RPGs most likely already experienced dozens of the typical “hero with amnesia” stories. Especially during the first hours, nothing about Finn or the cast seems particularly interesting, solely drawing simple personalities through heavy reliance on clichés. Yet, by laying heavy focus on both the characters and their development, SEMISOFT was able to create a unique tale out of it. Characters like Aria are some of the main reasons why Legrand Legacy works so well, offering really interesting developments, actively toying with expectations.
Surely, a lot of the dialogues are long, sometimes too long, when it once again loses itself in redundant conversations but isn´t it part of every JRPG´s charm? Without spoiling much, over the course of its ~20 hours campaign, both the story and cast develop in almost breath-taking ways, staying true to their PS1-PS2 era influences but adding just enough modern twists to keep it fresh.
On the other hand, the combat is a whole other thing, stuck somewhere between annoying nostalgia and clunkiness. In theory, the classic turn-based battle system, where every character has his normal and special attacks, as well as the ability to position them behind or in front of each other on the battlefield, sounds easy but complicated enough. Coming with many different elements, following the rock paper scissors system, Legrand Legacy would have offered just the right amount of tactical depth.
Sadly, the implementation of QuickTime events destroys a lot of its appeal over the playtime. Similar to earlier JRPGs, every attack requires you to press a button in just the right amount of time to either strengthen or weaken your attack. However, since it´s necessary for every action during combat, the ever the same quick time events quickly failed at forcing me to pay attention and annoyed me the longer I played. Combined with the fact, the penalties for missing one are quite huge, failing at a crucial moment can mean an unjustified defeat.
Sometimes the menu itself makes it hard to even select the desired action too, as the cursor, at least when playing with a controller, is very sensitive, making navigating clunkier than needed. Both of those problems make an almost perfect little combat system way worse than needed, at least for people who aren´t fans of hundreds of QuickTime events.
Otherwise, a lot about Legrand Legacy is pretty standard, straightforward JRPG. Level-ups allow you to upgrade abilities or unlock new ones, equipment can be purchased from the occasional cities and found throughout the dungeons. In each of the big safe heavens, numerous side quests can be accepted as well, ranging from fetch quests to more advanced escort ones at times. SEMISOFT obviously tried to create an appealing but standard frame, lacking any kind of surprises, both bad and good ones.
Only the visual presentation, trying to perfectly re-create the style of PS1 JRPGs, might not be for everyone. Even though the hand-drawn backgrounds are beautiful by themselves, full of details and their own style, the mixture between 2D environments and 3D character models moving on them certainly looks weird at the beginning. At least I got used to it fairly quickly, able to find a nostalgic appeal in the weird but beautiful look. Particularly because the soundtrack is simply amazing, full of music I would listen to by itself.
Legrand Legacy doesn´t reinvent the formula, delivering a good but unsurprising JRPG in style of the early PS1/PS2 era. Despite its flawed combat system, the captivating, well-written story, combined with the unique artistic presentation make it exactly what it set out to do, a love letter with heart and soul.
[A Review Code was provided by Another Indie]