Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds is an interesting, and relatively cheap indie RPG that can be purchased on the Nintendo e-shop (and Xbox Live, and PS Store). What makes Legrand Legacy unique is that it is essentially a Japanese Role-Playing Game developed by a team of 27 western developers (Semisoft).
During its two-year development cycle, Legrand Legacy had to go the Kickstarter route in order to make it to online fronts as a finished game. Thus, what we have in Legrand Legacy is an ambitious turn-based RPG (for an indie product) inspired by the 32-bit era JRPGs that populated the PlayStation 1.
Final Fantasy and Legend of Dragoon Merge
Developers cited Suikoden, Final Fantasy VIII, and The Legend of Dragoon as huge inspirations for Legrand Legacy, and it shows.
The game sounds (at times) like Final Fantasy, but looks (thanks to its color palette, and somewhat generic character design) like The Legend of Dragoon (complete with spelling errors in important dialogue bits).
The Music at times can reach FF level of quality, and at times can sink to Legend of Dragoon’s mediocrity. Considering that the aforementioned titles had multimillion dollar (if nearly unlimited) budgets, Semisoft does commendably in that area.
If you are looking for a game with old 32-bit JRPG vibes, Legend of Legrand would seem like the right choice, but it is truly worth your time today in 2021? And how does it stack up to the old classics?
An Epic, but Cliched Storyline
This is the elephant in the room that no one wants to address: Writing has gotten better by leaps and bounds over the last 2 decades in the gaming industry.
Go ahead, boot up Final Fantasy VI, or VII compare that dialogue to what you find today in action-adventure games, and you will see how primitive those games were in terms of how their characters interacted with each other through their written lines.
Both FFVI and FFVII had fantastic storylines, but Square’s writers, at the time, didn’t really flesh out these tales as well as they could have had, mainly because most of these developers didn’t have real professional script writers on payroll.
Some games like Lunar (Thanks to Working Designs), and Final Fantasy IX, eventually managed to do better in that regard, but for the most part those early JRPGs read horribly by modern standards. This issue (poor writing) was prevalent in The Legend of Dragoon.
Unfortunately, Legrand Legacy inherited the terrible writing of the 32-bit era JRPGs, which I guess can be a good thing, if you are longing for the sometimes primitive style of script writing of many classic JRPGs of yesteryear.
Legrand Legacy Kicks it Up (or Down?) a Notch
Legrand takes bad writing to the next level. Legacy of Legrand’s biggest sin isn’t that the dialog is bad (and full of errors), its largest transgression is that there is too much of it. The cast simply talks too much, many times the cast just dances around (hopelessly) over the same topic.
I quickly grew tired of the game’s character dialog, at times I found myself hitting the ‘next’ button just to speed things up.
Despite an Inordinate Amount of Dialogue…Character Development Remains a Weakness
Coming from someone that has expressed that Final Fantasy VI hasn’t aged as well (in terms of dialogue and characterization) as it should have because of the ‘short and straight to the point’ way in which the plot moved forwards; you have to know that Legrand Legacy’s writing is bad when I say that ‘too much dialogue’ is detrimental to this game’s enjoyment.
Most characters read badly, and it has little to do with the writing’s numerous spelling errors. The cast just lacks ‘original’ personalities. All of them are clones of other stereotypical JRPG characters from the 1990s. The problem is that they miss the mark in matching their respective 90’s character counterpart.
As basic as many of these characters were (in the 1990s), some had a certain charm, and certain element to them that made them unforgettable heroes (or villains), Legrand Legacy’s characters have none of these variables to aid them in saving the game’s crappy storyline.
Finn is the greatest example of the problem with Legrand Legacy’s cast. Finn is the “protagonist”, he isn’t a silent protagonist, but he might as well be. Finn’s character rarely has anything important to add to the plot, and when he does speak it is usually in a bland tone that has no soul.
To add to his issues, Finn was created as a “Cloud (FFVII)/Fei (Xenogears)” clone. A young man with no memory, and a ‘deep’ important past that unravels as the story moves forwards. However, the revelations in Legrand Legacy occur without much flair, and are mostly forgettable.
Finn is involved in a ‘love triangle’ set up with Aria and Eris, but both of them are clones of Final Fantasy female characters from yesteryear, and just like Finn is a bland hero, the two ‘heroines’ are bland love interests.
But there are other issues with this cast. The main one being that they all have a “hidden” past, and when this past is revealed someone in the party gets angry and develops trust issues towards that party member. The party member (whose past has been exposed) usually has convenient excuse as to why they hid their past from the other members, but the whole thing feels silly because it happens more than once throughout Legrand Legacy’s duration.
Again, Finn is the worst protagonist that I have played as in a J-RPG or RPG in general. He is dumb, weak, and ignorant. He remains these three things for much of the game’s runtime.
To finalize the proceedings, what was intended to be a dramatic ending, instead resulted in a “meh”experience thanks to the fact that I disliked every single character in this game…every single one.
The Worst of 32-bit Era JRPG Gameplay bundled in a Single Package
As with the story, Legrand Legacy manages to emulate 32-bit era gameplay systems with great success. But as with its plot, the game somehow manages to amplify the worst aspects of said systems within the game.
First, the main battle system (outside of army field battles) is a combination of Final Fantasy VII, X, and The Legend of Dragoon. It steals the “additions” from LoD and turns them into timed button presses for attacks, magic attacks and even guarding commands, while mixing it with Final Fantasy X’s “character swapping mechanic” and FFVII’s Limit-Break system.
Limit Breaks are called ‘Arcana’ (only usable when the AP gauge is full), and as with normal and magical attacks, a timed press of the right button influences the Arcana’s damage ratio (from failure, to good, to perfect) on the enemy’s HP gauge.
The AP gauge can be filled by scoring “good” to “Perfect” button presses on the attacks (or guard), and it is a useful, if essential tool in order to succeed against the game’s unbalanced and super powerful bosses.
Legrand’s system should work well in theory. It takes the best from former 32-bit era RPG battle systems and attempts to combine their elements to create its own distinct battle system. However, the developers didn’t fine tune it, in fact Legrand Legacy runs into a lot of technical hiccups while in battles.
First, the game can crash while in battles, it happened to me once. Now, bugs can happen in modern games, but a game as linear, and as “32-bit inspired” as Legrand Legacy should be free of these.
Second, once you target an enemy, if said enemy is defeated, the remaining party members that are still awaiting their turn will attack the “ghost” or empty spot of the defeated enemy, instead of just moving towards the next available enemy. Essentially, this flaw caused me to repeatedly waste turns, even in crucial situations.
Third, and perhaps most egregious of all, Legrand Legacy is very unbalanced. The game leans towards having “Over-Powered” bosses fighting underpowered party members. Gaining levels takes a ridiculous amount of time, even while playing on easy mode.
While the auto-save feature is generous and there are save points that refresh HP while in dungeons, enemies (which are visible on screen) do not re-spawn with regularity; creating a difficult climate for gamers that want and need to grind.
In fact, in one of the game’s most annoying instances, I found myself stuck in a boss battle, and my only solution was to battle two enemies on a different dungeon screen (pre-rendered backdrops) before making my way back to the HP refresh point screen and saving the game. I had to do all of this in order to reset the game so that the enemies would respawn again. I had to rinse and repeat this tedious routine for hours.
Tough bosses, and repeated grinding stretches are not new in gaming. In fact, it is an overly used “16-32 bit-ish” annoying gameplay quirk. However, most of those games either had random battles (therefore offering an unlimited supply of grinding victims), or a much more forgiving “item” system.
It seems that Semisoft (the game’s developers) didn’t think that their unbalanced character (leveling up), and boss progression systems were difficult and annoying enough for gamers. So, Semisoft thought that other annoying quirks needed to be added in order to ensure that Legrand Legacy’s limited number of joyful minutes would disappear into oblivion by crafting the worst item system that I have ever seen implemented in a ‘Japanese styled’ traditional turn-based RPG.
There is a weight limit for items that the party can carry. Going over the weight limit will cause the main character’s walking speed to slow to a proverbial crawl, making dungeon traversal a near impossible task. Thankfully, Semisoft allows for this feature (item weight limit) to be turned off. However, healing items are very expensive, and only a limited number of slots (4) per character can be equipped with said items outside of battle, and battles do not yield currency thus making ‘item purchasing’ an annoying hassle.
It was tiresome to constantly have to go into the game’s menus in order to “equip” characters with healing items. Therefore, it was easy to find myself stuck in difficult battles with little to no healing items, and no item shop in sight (as the developers also forgot to place “item selling” NPCs in some of the tougher, and longer dungeons) to further add to my troubles.
This wouldn’t be an issue if the party’s healers were efficient at healing, but the “Cure” spells are absolute rubbish. For example, using cure will produce a 150-200 HP gain (depending on the character’s level and max HP), but a boss (or enemy) can deliver 500-1500 HP damage per turn, thus rendering the spell largely ineffective.
This was frustrating, at times I found myself questioning Semisoft’s logic in turning what essentially is a good sounding, and decent looking RPG with a mediocre story that could have been redeemed into such a frustratingly unenjoyable experience.
Some of the game’s design decisions are baffling. Dungeons are already hellish because of the tough battles, but some of these dungeons also have “quirks” that affect traversal. For example: There is a bog with knee high water parts that slow our character’s traversal and ability to either avoid (or surprise) on screen enemies. Then there is an icy region where the ‘Cold’ also slows your on-screen character’s ability to move and zaps the party’s HP depending on how long it takes you to find a ‘fire’.
Then there is Suikoden….
Legrand Legacy offers “Large scale” strategic army battles. Unlike the regular boss battles, these large-scale affairs are easy, but equally tedious affairs. These battles can also get buggy.
I waited almost half an hour in the one battle while waiting for a single enemy to spawn into the field so that I could eliminate him and end the affair. The enemy would show up in the “awaiting turn” graphic at the bottom of the screen, and would take its turn, but remained invisible on the field map for 20-30 minutes.
I almost reset the game thinking that the game had essentially crashed but refrained from doing so because I didn’t want to repeat the “longer than usual” battle again. Eventually the enemy appeared, and I swiftly dispatched him, but it was an annoying bug, nonetheless.
In terms of the system’s strategic value….do yourself a favor, go to amazon and purchase any Suikoden entry, you will thank me later.
Legrand Legacy was Designed for Patient Players …But the Game Offers Little Reward for Those who Stick With it to the End
In the end, Legrand Legacy is a mediocre J-RPG styled game. The drawn pre-rendered backgrounds look nice, and the character models while generic looking do the job. The game even has some short silent CG scenes that are spread throughout.
Musically, Legrand sounds a lot like Final Fantasy in its finer moments, and that’s a good thing. Legrand Legacy does not sin in terms of its decent presentation. Legrand’s biggest issues come when the heart of what makes a good JRPG well… a good JRPG, is picked apart.
A cliched, and badly written story with lame characters is the driving force that is expected to push players through long, and annoying stretches of ‘grinding’ battles, unbalanced bosses, and slow as molasses dungeon traversal.
Legrand Legacy tried (conceptually) to thrive on nostalgia. Semisoft wanted to craft a love letter in Legrand Legacy to those of us who have asked at some point over the last decade: “Where did all the good JRPGs go?”
Instead, Legrand manages to capture (and create new) the bad hindrances of the “Oldschool” JRPGs while forgetting that the core ‘make or break’ elements behind the genre were its epic adventures, larger than life enemies, and memorable (and at times charming) character members that etched themselves into our collective memories.
I cannot recommend, on good conscience, Legrand Legacy to its target audience (90s JRPG fans). There are plenty of better JRPG knockoffs for retail available today for even a lower price. Legrand might be prettier than most of Kemco’s generic JRPG entries, but it is inferior in every other way that counts.
I am firmly entrenched in the camp that the Legend of Dragoon is a solid 7/10 game, as opposed to it being a great game. Legrand Legacy, however, does not hold a candle to the former title’s quality.
The Legend of Dragoon is twice the game that Legacy of Legrand is, and Semisoft’s 2019 (Switch) game’s most important achievement is that it has made me realize that I might have been a little too harsh towards Sony’s ill-fated title over the last two decades.
Where do I start? Unbalanced Character, and Boss Progression systems. Slow dungeons, further compounded by baffling design elements (the bog, and freezing cold areas), scarce enemies to grind and a cumbersome, if impractical, item system.
The game has side quests, most which are boring fetch quests, and some which are annoyingly mandatory for moving the plot forwards (and I only found out about them hours after the quest was first introduced).
There are worst looking and sounding RPGs out there, but I haven’t found one that plays as bad Legrand Legacy, yet.
The hand drawn pre-rendered backgrounds can be stunning (for a game emulating 32-bit era JRPGs) at times, pedestrian at others, but for the most part these screens are nicely done.
The character models look fine, but this is a 2019 game, and fine looking models are the norm rather than the exception. Their design, however, can be at times uninspired, bland, and lifeless.
The color palette at times reminded of The Legend of Dragoon, which might entice fans of the popular PS1 RPG to give Legrand a try…
By far the best part about Legrand Legacy is its music. It reminded me of Final Fantasy during battles, and during some of its finer moments. It is in its music where Legrand Legacy manages to reach a certain nostalgic vibe from 2 decades ago, but music alone a game does not save.
I don’t know what’s worst, the fact that I had to grind for hours in tedious, and creative ways in order to reach the end credits of Legrand Legacy or that I had to struggle through the former process while knowing that I gave a rat’s rear-end about the game’s plot and its characters.
Semisoft made a commendable effort in creating the game’s lore, which is explained in large amounts of badly written text by the cast over the game’s run time.
A Square Enix like CG ending was not enough to save Legrand Legacy from the abyss. Finn was a terrible protagonist, and so were Eris, and Aria as his bland love interests.
Replay Value: 1.0
I doubt that I will ever touch Legrand Legacy again. I have erased the game from my Switch SD card, and it shall forever remain in the dark annals of Nintendo’s e-shop’s history never to be disturbed by me or my descendants again.
Legrand Legacy’s audio/visual presentation goes beyond what one would expect from an indie studio. That said, a team of 20+ individuals with a substantial budget should have been capable of delivering a game with a larger soul, and refined systems.
Recently, at NER we played Nick’s Quest with its creator Nick Baer. Nick’s Quest despite lacking Legrand’s visual and aural panache, actually succeeds in capturing the spirit of the bygone 16-bit RPGs and actually out does many of them with its witty dialog, and well thought out design.
Baer managed to do this by himself, with limited resources and time. He was passionate about old school RPGs, and designed his game about things that were liked by gamers of the era, and eliminated or modified aspects those games which were detrimental to their full enjoyment.
There is no excuse for the larger team at Semisoft to have failed in the deliverance of a decent narrative, and a well designed game when they had the time, and by comparison to Baer, an unlimited amount of funds to craft their own 32-bit era inspired game.
Legrand Legacy manages to capture the sights, and sounds of PlayStation 1’s RPGs, but falls flat in capturing their adventurous spirit and unforgettable simpler character moments.
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