Legasista (PS3) Review
Ben Sheene / Aug 21st, 2012 No Comments
The summer has been kind. And while I’m sure there’s been plenty of hot days with cool breezes and lazy days spent on vacation, I wouldn’t know it. I’ve been inside while all that hullabaloo goes on outside my window. Frankly, so many games have come out this summer that missing them for this “real life” business would just be crazy. Though retail releases usually get the most attention, these past few months have been ripe with downloadable titles from every sort of genre. We’ve had zombie platformers, rhythm games, tactical RPGs, and even a movie tie-in just to name a few. With Legasista we now get a dungeon-crawler that could possibly keep you busy for months to come.
NIS America is known for pushing out niche titles to a small but dedicated fan base. Anyone familiar with their Disgaea series will immediately recognize many of the quirks that Legasista has to offer. Deep customization, quirky characters, complex gameplay, and a non-mainstream charm are all here but not with the RPG sheen you would come to expect. To put it simply, the game is a roguelike dungeon-crawler with an action RPG battle system. Those who have played developer System Prisma’s ClaDun games will recognize the gameplay instantly. Players will find themselves delving deeper and deeper into dungeons to find better loot that will help conquer increasingly difficult enemies. The general concept sounds easy enough to grasp—and it is—but that’s only the basics.
The deeper mechanics of Legasista are what will entice any interested players. First and foremost is the job system. Here a character is not only a thief or warrior or mage; there are jobs within those jobs called energy frames. An energy frame will have certain buffs or restrictions allowing you to equip different combinations of skills or items. One frame might have a lot of HP bars and less equipment or vice versa. The fun is seeing what combination works for you. On top of that, any equippable item has a durability/health and if it breaks you will lose the benefits until it is repaired. My favorite part of the job system is how flexible it is. After reaching level 20 in a job you can change it to a new one and also keep any non-job specific stat bonuses you have previously gained. Not only does this allow for constant customization but it allows you to create a ridiculously strong character over time. The biggest complaint I would have with the equipment is the “Title” system. Many pieces of equipment have certain affixes to them whether it is buffs to attack and defense or improved durability called titles. Over time you can dump items but keep their titles and apply them to make current equipment stronger. While it could make for some great equipment, the rate at which you get items makes you wonder when it’s the best time to ditch or enhance an item for your benefit (not to mention titles are removed from your stockpile whenever you use them). From there, it’s a matter of diving into a dungeon with the best party possible and coming out victorious on the other side.
And what’s your reason for doing all this fighting, you ask? Legasista’s story takes place in a future where technology is a thing of the past. Over time man had created powerful pieces of technology and through one means or another killed a lot of people. Now technology is feared as magic and evil curses that only few know about. The story focuses on Alto, a young adventurer whose sister has been cursed and turned into a crystal. He travels to the Ivy Tower which houses relics of the past and, hopefully, a way to cure his sister. Along the way you will meet a decent amount of secondary characters who add flavor to the story. There will be hints as to how the world got to be like it is, musings on what it is to be alive, and plenty else to care about if you want. The plot unfolds through the traditional chunks of dialogue exchanged between each character. With games like this, the main focus is on gameplay and the developers know this. Moments will come where the story does get interesting but only if you are invested in it enough. Just don’t come into it thinking it will be the next world-sprawling epic.
The game is charming to look at to say the least. Don’t let the simplistic character models fool you, Legasista can get pretty. Environments pop with detail and color making the dungeons feel like real buildings affected by years of overgrown foliage. Enemies can be cute or deadly and change color schemes based on level (an RPG staple). Animations are fluid and translate well between characters and enemies. Though it would have been nice to have more variety in weapon design, it is still nice that your character isn’t constantly wielding a generic placeholder weapon or shield. Music is great from start to end, especially the main theme which would fit amongst the better anime themes I’ve heard in my time. Some people may hate the fact that NIS America didn’t include an English dub but I don’t count myself among them. Often I find the Japanese audio to be entirely better in games like this in the first place (not to mention it fits the anime aesthetic of the character art during dialogues). Anyone who is truly going to be invested in the story and take the time to read all the dialogue is likely the same person who will enjoy the Japanese in the first place.
Legasista is a deep game. Sometimes the depth can get complicated and that’s why most should love it. The strongest element of the game (and the one that will keep you coming back for more) is the Ran-geon feature. These random dungeons can have 100 floors of easy to impossible difficulties and they are always different. Each floor has different exit gates that have different effects. One gate might increase your item drops while another might raise the level of your enemies by ten or more. Some gates will even teleport you into a room with impossible odds because the enemies are ten times your size and hundreds of levels above you. Random or not, each dungeon has traps in it that just add another layer of strategy to your approach. The thrill of not knowing what is coming next and then fighting for your life when the going gets too tough is something that makes any game great. Don’t let the downloadable nature of Legasista fool you, this is a big game. The story itself might only take upwards of 15 hours but there’s content that I haven’t even touched on that you will discover for yourself. Did I mention the game comes with its own character creation feature where you can dictate how your creation plays and even looks? Well it does. You can play as a Prinny or upload a photo of your own. Now, go play…and get back to me when you’re level 999.
tags: legasista , NIS America , ps3 , review