REVIEW – The Legend of Legacy (3DS)

Most adventurers dare not set foot into the wilderness of Avalon, the island that mysteriously rose from the sea ten years ago. However, in The Legend of Legacy, your party doesn’t consist of ordinary adventurers; each member is driven to discover the island’s many secrets by his or her own unique desires, whether that be for fortune and fame, a religious crusade, or the search of long lost brethren. There are many paths to take in The Legend of Legacy, but rest assured, the one you take to the story’s end is your own. You are left to forge your own adventure on Avalon, choosing where you go, with whom you go, what you’ll do, and how you’ll fight when you get there.

After choosing from one of seven protagonists, each with his or her own reason to travel to Avalon, you’ll reach the town of Initium. There, your character joins up with two other adventurers to form your first party, with other characters recruited later on. The party heads out into the mysterious forests and ruins dotting the Avalon map, where they find artifacts and monuments with connections to the “elementals,” a force from legend that is said to be left behind by the gods. Also in legend is the existence of the Star Graal, a “legacy” left by the gods on Avalon. No one has ever seen the Star Graal, nor is anyone sure it even exists, but it’s said to bestow a great power to whoever finds it, fueling the hunt for most of Avalon’s adventurers.

Initium, the only settlement on Avalon, is your party's base.
Initium, the only settlement on Avalon, is your party’s base.

In essence, The Legend of Legacy is entirely about adventuring and exploration. After the first few missions, you’re free to explore Avalon as you see fit. Newly-acquired maps unlock different locations to travel to on Avalon, and you decide where to go and which party members to bring, shaping your own experience in The Legend of Legacy.

Occasionally, the lack of a linear path can be a hurdle to overcome. The Legend of Legacy doesn’t explicitly lay out a plan of action for you, and it doesn’t teach you well enough initially how to form your own plan. At times when I felt lost and unsure what I should do next, it felt as though I was making no progress toward any goal and was just wandering aimlessly. In time, I learned how to properly explore Avalon, and ultimately I enjoyed the freedoms I was given by the game, but some players may be turned off by this level of open-ended gameplay.

But where to, King?
Explore “what” exactly, King?

Each map you’ll acquire starts as a blank slate; it’s up to you to fill it in. An omnipresent fog covers the map and the terrain, and as you run through the world, the fog will start to lift and the map will fill in, revealing key locations and exits to other locations. Statues containing elemental artifacts called “shards” are tucked away in the corners of the maps. To get to them, you’ll have to make your way through scores of monsters who roam Avalon’s many locations.

The world of The Legend of Legacy is beautifully realized both in hand-drawn cutscene stills and in the actual gameplay. Desert environments feel scorched and desolate, while thickly forested areas give the sense of danger lurking behind every tree and every crumbled ruin. Members of your party are expressive and come to life thanks to well-designed character models, as do imaginative monsters and a colorful supporting cast.

Filmia, heir to a long-lost kingdom in Avalon, is known to croak out a song every so often.
Filmia, heir to a long-lost kingdom in Avalon, is known to croak out a song every so often.

Enemies who spot you will chase you down and enter a combat sequence. The turn-based RPG combat may look familiar, but The Legend of Legacy has its own unique strategies to employ. While your party members can play any role you want in combat, each has his or her own specialized stats that favor one role over the others. Characters with higher Attack stats are better suited to fighting, while those with high Guard stats effectively block and counter enemy attacks and Support characters aid their party mates through healing. Finding the balance between the three stats can be the difference between victory and defeat. Additionally, you can adjust your party’s battle formation, placing each character in a specific stance that affects their abilities in battle. For example, a character in a Guard stance stands in front of the party and can block incoming enemy attacks for the entire party.

Each equipped weapon and shield has a set of powerful weapon arts. These special skills unleash stronger attacks on foes at the cost of SP. Weapon arts will gradually level-up and become more effective the more you use them, so use them often to make your attacks as strong as possible and to unlock new weapon arts. Party members equipped with shards can also harness the elemental’s powers in battle, unleashing deadly attacks or casting a healing spell on the entire party. Party members will also grow stronger, though rather than adding to an overall “level” that might be found in other RPGs, characters in The Legend of Legacy level up their stats one-by-one, including their specialized stats and their HP and SP.

Some battles are easily won, but you will die, especially early on. This is due in part to some particularly tough enemies, but it can also be attributed to a lack of proper player education. Once again, you are left on your own to figure out what to do in The Legend of Legacy, including how to fight. With countless party configurations, formations and weapon/weapon arts to choose from, you won’t truly succeed in the game until you’ve spent a great amount of time familiarizing yourself with its systems. The first few tutorials don’t effectively spell out how battles are fought and won. Once you learn the tricks of the trade, coming up with your own success strategies is quite rewarding, but getting to that point can be a grind. This is amplified by the lack of autosaving and checkpoints; you must manually save your game to keep your progress, and if you fall in battle (which, as I said, you will), you’ll lose any progress you’ve made up until that battle. If you save sporadically, you’re in for some backtracking.

legend of legacy battle 2
Your weapon arts will gain power the more you use them.

In the end, I appreciated the amount of weight my own movements carried in The Legend of Legacy and how my story unfolded thanks to my own doing. The game set up a satisfying story on its own, but left the path to the major story beats entirely up to me. My exploration and nose-poking revealed Avalon’s many secrets. My party configuration and battle stances conquered the island’s greatest beasts. I experienced The Legend of Legacy the way I wanted to, and you should experience it in your own way, too.