JRPGs have changed quite a bit over the years as gaming technology made advancements. 25 years ago they did not full fully rendered 30 minute CGI movie cut scenes every time a major event happened, they had two minutes of text boxes to convey a conversation and advance the plot. They also did not have three hour long tutorials that treated you as if you have never experienced a video game before in your life, they pretty much gave a brief introduction sequence so you have some idea that there may in fact be a plot and send you off on your own to kill very weak creatures, often times in the form of imps or slime blobs. Legionwood 2: Rise Of The Eternal’s Realm plays very much like an RPG from this era. If you have played Final Fantasy IV on the SNES back when everyone was calling it Final Fantasy II this game will feel like familiar territory to you. Actually, if you still enjoy playing the 16 bit Final Fantasties or the NES games Dragon Warrior III and IV, it’s a safe bet you’ll enjoy this game and can skip the rest of this review.
Legionwood 2 begins with a character named Lionel discussing an upcoming mission where he will be accompanied by Felix. It’s a typical JRPG starting mission, no real challenge since it is really just there to introduce the characters and get you acclimated to game play. Party members change, the plot advances, motives for going forward and goals change in the process. This game does not scream innovative by any stretch, but that shouldn’t be held against it too much because for a throwback RPG it is actually quite good. I believe the publishers were fans of this genre back in the day and took great care and effort to make a high quality retro game. You have your world map that you use when travelling between towns and dungeons. Combat is done through random encounters, which is a staple of the aforementioned games. Sometimes the encounter rate seems annoyingly high when trying to explore a new quest area, but I tend to feel that way in just about every RPG I’ve ever played. The game uses a class system for your character’s attribute growth and what techs they have available to them. You are allowed to equip a main class and a subclass, for example, you could be a warrior with a magus subclass being able to fight like a warrior and also use spells. You do incur a stat penalty for using a subclass, but the benefits of the added versatility usually offset the penalty.
There is a morality system in the game as well. It is not as complex as you would find in a Bioware game, but it does make the game more interesting and makes you consider what choices you make. Certain quest options and conversation events can occur differently depending on what your morality score is. In these games I would generally go in every home in every town and ransack any treasure boxes and search dressers for hidden goodies. Doing that in Legionwood 2 would give you negative morality points, so I actually thought about what to do before ransacking all the villagers’ homes that were counting on me as their hero. I still did it, my RPG OCD mandates that I pillage everyone without prejudice, but I did think about the consequences a little bit before I robbed all the peasants blind. The music is well composed, typical of what you would expect to hear in this type of game but one particular odd aspect was the battle music reminded me of the Finnish band Dark The Suns. The one major flaw that drove me nuts about this game was the control scheme. You can do anything with either the arrow keys plus enter and shift, or the mouse and the right and left button, but there is no controller support. The control options are serviceable and work fine for what you need to do in the game, but this game seems like it would feel a lot more natural to use a controller. Overall, this game is a well done homage to early 1990’s JRPGs. The morality system and the subclass system add a layer of complexity, but everything about this game’s general presentation screams SNES era, which is fine with me because there were some great RPGs on that system. If you still enjoy those games, this is definitely worth checking out. This game does not revolutionize the genre, but it is a solid addition to it. Follow me on Twitter