Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds – Not that grand – Review

Gare – Friday, February 23, 2018 2:44 PM
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Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds introduces itself as a love letter to JRPGs, and this is something I don’t intend to dispute – developer SEMISOFT’s intention to pay homage to various aspects of the genre in their own way is quite evident. However, while Legrand Legacy is far from being the worst game I’ve ever played, it squanders what potential it might’ve had by failing to properly build upon the JRPG fundamentals it lays down. This all results in a game I certainly didn’t hate (well, I didn’t hate all of it, but more on that later), but one I couldn’t readily recommend to veteran fans of the genre without a number of preemptive warnings. And even then, I would probably still tell you to go play something else – something more worth your time.

From zero to hero

The adventure starts off with Finn, the typical amnesiac protagonist, being freed from slavery by a mysterious old man, who then asks him to help his daughter. Simple enough, right? Well, this is a video game, and an RPG at that, so don’t expect things to stay simple. One thing leads to another, and this humble journey soon turns into an epic quest to collect a variety of legendary weapons in order to take up arms against a demonic invasion force because – you guessed it – you’re the chosen ones. And yeah, you’re pretty much told all this in the first few hours. The basic plotline never actually evolves beyond this, and though the game – in expected JRPG fashion – throws a number of roadblocks and distractions at your feet, the end goal remains the same throughout the narrative. A few “twists” also happen along the way, but the ones that aren’t comically predictable – or just plain comical – lose all impact they might have had due to the game’s failed attempt at characterization. The game also happens to have one of the shortest and most unsatisfying non-endings I’ve ever seen in an RPG, so don’t expect a particularly fulfilling conclusion, either.

High school drama

So, let’s not waste any more time and actually talk about the characters. Without much exaggeration, this is the #1 thing holding the game back – the prime culprit that prevented me from enjoying Legrand Legacy as much as I had hoped. I’ll be blunt: the plot is poorly written and the characters are insufferable. Not all of them, mind you, but don’t exhale a sigh of relief just yet: the ones that don’t get on your nerves are simply bland and forgettable. So, here’s the thing: Legrand Legacy is all about bickering. If there’s one thing the game manages to do consistently, it’s making the characters argue about every single thing. And before you raise a hand in protest, I know what you’re trying to say, but hear me out. Yes, drama and conflict can be a potent driving force in a JRPG that makes the characters face their own flaws and grow throughout the adventure. The problem with Legrand Legacy is that it handles all this in an inconsistent, maddening sort of way that will have you repeatedly question certain characters’ sanity. Imagine this: the characters have a lengthy argument about a stupid thing. They call each other every name in the book repeatedly. Then they somehow make up right on the spot. Then another thing happens and everything is thrown out the window – despite having spent months together as traveling companions, one little seed of doubt can make the characters immediately turn their backs on each other, and instead of trying to maybe trust their so-called “friends”, they proceed to treat them like they were the scum of the earth. And this happens multiple times. If I’ll ever look back on this game in a few years – provided I won’t have forgotten about it by then – Legrand Legacy will be the RPG I remember as “that game where everyone’s permanently grumpy, every conversation leads to a petty argument, and nothing can ever be resolved without juvenile bickering.”

There’s no definite turning point, either – that is, a point in the storyline that would solidify the heroes’ resolve, who, having overcome their differences, march on as a unified whole. No, the pointless arguments and accusations continue right up to the very end, and not once did I feel like these overgrown children were actually worthy of being referred to as the so-called Fatebound. It doesn’t help that the narrative feels tremendously over-written, with conversations that could be solved in two or three sentences droning on for over a dozen – everything is continuously reiterated and characters frequently act like stubborn mules before finally agreeing to acquiesce. There’s injecting a bit of character-driven drama into your plot to spice it up a bit, and then there’s overdoing it to an infuriating degree where the entire game revolves around it.

It rhymes with “meadowlarks”

Thankfully, Legrand Legacy’s combat system is a little more competently handled than its narrative. Though feeling somewhat clunky and unpolished in terms of animations and overall presentation, Legrand Legacy falls into the category of games that won’t let you triumph by blindly mashing buttons. There is indeed a certain level of strategy and planning required with the game’s battles, including exploiting weaknesses, using debuffs, choosing the right time to block or go all-out, and so on. While certain encounters still end up devolving into using the same strategy over and over again, Legrand Legacy keeps you on your toes constantly, with even regular enemies being able to dish out massive amounts of damage to your unsuspecting characters. Boss fights take this to a whole new level, and the game pretty much expects you to have your ultimate attacks (your limit breaks, if you will) ready to be unleashed if you’re to have any chance at victory.

Legrand Legacy also uses what is essentially a simplified version of Shadow Hearts’ Judgement Ring system, where you need to press a button when the swiftly moving arrow passes over a specific area of a circular plate. It’s basically a quick time event, more or less. Unlike in Shadow Hearts, though, Legrand Legacy’s ring allows for little to no customization – the only thing you can do to make your life a little easier is raise your characters’ Luck stat to widen the “perfect” area of the ring, but frankly, more often than not you’re better off pumping a more useful stat. Having said that, it’s a combat system I managed to warm up to over time; similarly, allocating stat points (gained with each level up) and deciding how to build my characters to best suit my needs was a decently fun experience. The same could be said of the game’s occasional board game-esque strategy segments, which – though very much doable if one pays attention to enemy weaknesses and flank attacks – provided for some enjoyably tense moments here and there.

Weigh your options

Legrand Legacy comes equipped with a few minigames I simply couldn’t be bothered to waste too much time on, as well as a number of bland, tedious side quests that I’m already failing to remember. There are also a few baffling design choices such as the inclusion of an inventory weight limit, which seems especially pointless when you realize that you don’t actually need to keep crafting components in your inventory to be able to use them for crafting – it’s enough to have them stored in your stash (Note: from what I can tell, the ability to craft using stashed items was patched into the game post-release, meaning the original system used to be even more cumbersome). Nonetheless, the inventory system can become an annoyance if you forget to unload your surplus items on a regular basis, because the game does shower you with loot quite generously.

Closing thoughts

It is undeniable that SEMISOFT put their hearts and souls into creating this game, and it certainly held the potential to be something special. Yet despite the developer’s best and most honest efforts, Legrand Legacy’s severe – and often exasperating – narrative blunders and lack of polish prevent it from being more than a largely unremarkable experience that left me wondering, in vain, what exactly I’d just spent my 40+ hours on. And for most people, I suspect that level of time commitment is simply not going to be worth it when there are already quite a number of better-written, better-crafted, and overall more fulfilling RPGs to choose over Legrand Legacy.

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