A Brutal JRPG in the style of SaGa Frontier – The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered Review

Home » Game Reviews » A Brutal JRPG in the style of SaGa – The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered Review

The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered is a remaster of the original Legend of Legacy 3DS game that was developed by FuRyu. It’s a very unique JRPG that focuses mostly on its gameplay and less on its narrative. The gameplay is similar to SaGa games, with very brutal gameplay mechanics that require you to learn its unique systems such as how you need to learn abilities by using them frequently, rather than just raising general levels. At the same time, there are positives with this game too, such as its non-linearity and how it doesn’t hold your hand.

From the get go you can choose 1 of 7 protagonists to be your “main” protagonist. Not much changes depending on the protagonist you choose except a few lines and the ending artwork. It doesn’t matter too much, and you can recruit all 7 characters very early on by talking to them in the game’s only town and there’s no storyline associated with recruiting your party members unlike Octopath Traveler.

You can only have 3 characters in your party in battles, and unfortunately characters not in your party don’t gain passive experience or abilities. When you choose a character, the other 2 are automatically chosen and you’re given a quick explanation why they’re together, but after the first dungeon or so you can go into the town to find the other characters.

There isn’t any banter between your party members for the majority of the game. There’s no voice acting for your characters. The only scenes that are voiced are introduction scenes to each region done by a narrator, as well as the initial and ending cutscenes. The basic premise is that your party is searching an island called Avalon for treasure in old civilizations and you report your findings to the leader of the town. In a sense, this game is similar in narrative to Etrian Odyssey 3.

The graphics are a downside to the game, and they’re about what you’d expect from a 3DS game. The interface has been reworked to make the game work on a modern console and the game runs flawlessly, whereas in the original 3DS version some enemy animations or too many enemies on the screen would cause lag. The graphics for the characters are similar to the 3D models you’d see in Fire Emblem: Awakening, Bravely Default, or SMT 4.

The environments are not graphically impressive, but the art direction is certainly there. The game features many distinct biomes such as forests, deserts, volcanoes, and ancient temples. It’s a dungeons crawler, but it’s not based off a grid. Rather, you fill out a map by exploring a 3D area.

There are many connected zones that are interesting to explore and it genuinely does feel like you’re going on a grand adventure where your life is in danger. You can then sell completed maps for larger rewards, or just sell half-completed maps for a fraction of the reward.

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The dungeon crawling aspect is very addicting. It’s rewarding to see the maps finished after exploring. The maps are never labyrinthine, but at the same times the regions are interconnected extremely well. (Image Credit: FuRyu, Cattle Call & NIS America)

You can also buy new maps from the vendor to explore new regions, or you can find new regions yourself by exploring the edge of the current region. When I say “buy a map” though, it only unlocks the entrance to the zone – you don’t get spoiled on the map and you still have to complete it yourself (you’re buying an empty map to unlock the region).

There are no map markers whatsoever, and you can choose to explore wherever you want however you want. I didn’t find the game obtuse either when it came to progressing the story. You go to 3 temples early on and you can find them very easily, then you can go to the town leader for updates. It’s the second half of the game that becomes extremely nonlinear, to the point where I had to consult online resources, where I didn’t realize I had to get a stone, then backtrack to an earlier region to unlock a new dungeon.

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The art direction in the game is top notch and nails the picture book aesthetic. This is the hub city (it is only zoomed out when standing still for a while). It’s a nice touch you can explore the hub, rather than it only being menus. (Image Credit: FuRyu, Cattle Call & NIS America)

I like how the environment renders as well. It does have pop-in, but it looks like an actual pop-up book. The only bad part of this is that sometimes you don’t have much notice because you can’t see far away, so sometimes a big enemy will get into a fight with you and you don’t have enough time to escape. But generally the maps are fun to explore, though some are a bit cramped at times due to the 3DS’s limitations (similar to SMT 4’s maps).

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The maps look nice, but can be cramped at times due to the 3DS’s technical limitations. (Image Credit: FuRyu, Cattle Call & NIS America)

The meat of this game is in its the combat system and is where it will either make it or break it for you. I’ve played many JRPGs and SRPGs, but not necessarily many SaGa-like games and it manages to carve a niche into the JRPG genre because of how peculiar it is. In this game, your characters don’t have levels. Instead, you need to grind and learn abilities by constantly using them in battle. You learn new abilities by leveling up your current abilities.

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By fighting strong enemies and using your abilities, you can level up your abilities as well as learn new abilities and increase your HP & SP. (Image Credit: FuRyu, Cattle Call & NIS America)

It can be a mess at times because the game doesn’t explain its gameplay systems well and I often had to consult online resources because a skill you really need is locked behind a chain of other skills you need to learn first. Some skills such as Healing Hands and the Water Shield are extremely essential to beating the game. You can’t just grind for levels and you can’t just grind on easy to defeat enemies, you actually do have to make builds, fight difficult foes, and be smart in battles to win. HP and SP is increased by taking hits and running out of SP from using abilities.

I’m not used to this kind of system because I didn’t play many SaGa games. It reminds me of Final Fantasy 2’s gameplay which is the odd one out among all old Final Fantasy titles, which was a very polarizing game on release.

The element system is unique to this game as well, but in a good way. There are three elements you unlock as you progress the game – fire, air, water. Shadow is also an element, but is enemy exclusive unfortunately. You need to make a pact with the element by using a ring accessory equipped and using the “Make Pact” command during battle, then you will be able to use abilities of that element.

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You can find new spells contained within Whispering Shards, which are found all over the maps. (Image Credit: FuRyu, Cattle Call & NIS America)

The elemental system is not too hard to get a grasp of, but it is extremely nuanced and you need to master it to do well and the game’s biggest fault is that it doesn’t explain any of it naturally during gameplay. Instead you have to consult menus within the game, manuals, and online resources too. Similar to SaGa games, this game really doesn’t like to hand over information to a fault.

If you keep making pacts during battle, the field will be dominated more towards one kind of element. For example, water will restore HP each turn to who has the pact and it halves magic (charm) damage for everyone. Air will restore SP to who has the pact and halves physical damage for everyone. Fire increases the chance of inflicting ailments and increases physical damage for everyone.

The field also defaults to more towards one element depending on the region you’re in. For example, if you’re exploring a cave full of lava, the field will have more fire element by default whenever you encounter an enemy. I was confused why enemies were one-shotting my characters in a volcano, only to realize the field effect was increasing physical damage for everyone.

Another note is that only one team can have a pact to use elements at a time. So if you have a pact with water, the enemy can’t use water elements. But if the enemy then makes a pact with water, they’ll take the pact away from you, and now you’re unable to use water elements. So it’s interesting because you can actually take away an enemy’s ability to use elements by purposely stealing their pact. If you see bosses constantly healing all their health back, it means you need to steal their water pact to prevent their HP regeneration.

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The boss fights are not particularly good and has bosses frequently recycled between regions. (Image Credit: FuRyu, Cattle Call & NIS America)

Stealing elemental pacts is extremely necessary, especially for the final boss who will heal 999 every turn if you don’t steal their water pact each turn. It’s a really fun and interesting system, but I just wish the game explained it more. A tutorial fight that clearly explained the game’s mechanics would’ve benefited this game greatly.

There is an equipment system in this game. It’s the usual you’d find in a JRPG, whee you equip each character with a weapon, head piece, chest armor, leg armor, footwear, and two accessories.

If you have a tank you’d want the armor with the highest defense as well as a shield. Whereas other members of your party might use staves, swords, bows, and more. There is only one vendor in the game that sells equipment and it is somewhat random what he sells. In general you unlock better equipment as you progress, but I didn’t like how the equipment was handled in this game. There’s no crafting equipment in this game, which was a huge missed opportunity.

You gain better abilities and stat increases by defeating harder enemies, but often I’d explore an area and fight enemies around the same strength as me, causing me to end the battle with nothing gained at all. This game could’ve been improved if enemies could’ve dropped materials to use to craft and customize equipment.

Enemies sometimes drop items that can be sold for currency. The currency isn’t too useful either because there’s only one vendor who only sells 10 random pieces of equipment at a time. Once you have a lot of currency you will have bought all the best equipment from the shop.

A unique mechanic in this game is that you can charter a ship to bring back random equipment and items for you for a price, but the downside is that it takes up to 5 real life hours for the ship to come back and it’s extremely random what you get. Since you are only using 3 characters that are specialized there’s a good chance you end up getting weapons that aren’t applicable for you and it caused me a great deal of frustration. I played for 15 hours and couldn’t find a shield upgrade for my tank until the second half of the game. Some enemies and mini-bosses will drop equipment, but it’s extremely rare. Equipment is done much better in Etrian Odyssey, where you can just use materials from enemies to craft weapons and armor applicable to your party.

When you sell completed maps to the vendor, NPCs will explore the regions. Their services weren’t that useful though, and often they’d only let you rest to heal up after you’ve already finished exploring the region and by then and the enemies won’t be strong enough for you to get stat increases.

You can get formations from talking to these NPCs. Formations are general actions that you assign to your party, like having one party member guard and the others attack, and then you can choose the specific kinds of guard or attacking commands afterwards. Some formations will change what happens during a battle, such as one that slows down a party member in battle but increases their attack.

The problem is that to unlock new formations you need to talk to NPCs in regions you’ve completed and they’ll randomly give them to you. So I found a region with an NPC very close to the exit, and I kept teleporting in and out until they gave me most of the formations in the game. This was implemented poorly. The developers should’ve just had the vendor sell formations and have more unlocked as you progressed the game.

The worst part of the game is its harsh difficulty curve, which can be a pro or con depending on what you like in a game. This is one of the hardest 3DS games and it’s no exaggeration. It starts off very fair, but by the fire region the game really ramps up in difficulty especially due to the field elemental effects. Every enemy fight turns into a boss fight where you need to fight very strategically. You gain stats by fighting hard enemies that push you to the limit, so you can’t just grind on old mobs.

I would grind as much as possible to mobs that I can barely handle. When my party grew I’d feel comfortable to go to a new region, and then all my party members would get one-shotted by regular enemies. I didn’t find Etrian Odyssey or SMT 4’s introduction dungeon as hard as this game.

Some regular enemies even get 2 turns and spam powerful area of effect moves. It’s fun to fight new sets of enemies, but the cycle of feeling confident in a region, then going to a new region and getting instantly killed over and over again does take a toll on you. I wish that this remastered version had difficulty options, but I couldn’t find any. This is in contrast to other similar games, such as Etrian Odyssey that contained new easier difficulties in its remastered release.

I just really wished they toned down the difficulty of this game. I know that it wants to be similar to a SaGa game, but the character classes and abilities aren’t as diverse as those games. The party being only 3 characters really limits the battle system significantly, and often a regular enemy encounter would have 7 or more enemies.

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The battles can be overwhelming at times, with so many enemies present in encounters that they clip into each other. (Image Credit: FuRyu, Cattle Call & NIS America)

The enemy models would also keep blocking each other too, which I’ve never seen in a JRPG. Every dungeon ends up being a difficulty spike, especially the final set of bosses. Even Strange Journey isn’t this hard. I’ve played some very brutal JRPGs, even Arc Rise Fantasia wasn’t this hard.

The configurations of enemies in the random encounters doesn’t seem fixed, it genuinely seems random and some configurations of enemies are worse than the bosses in the region because certain kinds of enemies have multiple turns at once and strong area of effect attacks that bypass your guard. You can run from any non-story battle, but it puts you back at the beginning of the region.

One bright side is that your HP will be restored at the end of every fight. Your SP isn’t restored, but you can gain more during battle and you can use SP restoring items outside of battle. You can encounter sparkles when exploring that can contain useful items, but a lot of the time they might have tough random enemy ambushes. It’s not too bad because you can thankfully also quick save at any time, which you should very often. Your quick save also doesn’t get deleted from loading.

If all characters are downed in battle (HP 0) it’s game over. But another unique mechanic is that your characters can be downed in battle and still be hit by enemy attacks, reducing their max HP if you revive them again. This persists until you leave the region and go to an inn outside of the dungeon. If they are downed in battle and lose all of their HP while downed then it’s an instant game over. In some cases it’s not enough to be able to revive your party members during a boss battle because if the boss keeps using area of effect moves on your downed party member it’ll reduce their maximum HP when you revive them again. You can’t draw out battles and you really need to be efficient.

The stat increase curve isn’t done well, and often I found myself just grinding in battles to unlock more abilities and stat increases. Nonetheless, I found the dungeon crawling aspect of the game to be addicting. It’s really fun filling out the corner of all the maps and finding new regions, but the enemy encounters really become brutal in the second half of the game.

The regions become extremely tedious in the second half, especially the swamp region that is very slow to traverse. You can find new spells when exploring maps, but I wish there was more spell variety in this game, and the damage output of spells even with the field advantage doesn’t seem as good as making physical builds.

With respect to the characters, there isn’t any dialog between the characters except for a very few lines in the beginning. This game is really all about the gameplay, namely exploring and fighting in battles. The atmosphere of discovering ancient civilizations is really well done, and it feels fun to play this game while doing other activities such as listening to podcasts. At the same time, this kind of game might not be for everyone because of its difficulty curve. The game starts off slow with very limited builds, but really picks up when you unlock fire, air and water elements. After that though, it does get a bit worse in the second half afterwards when the game starts to have unforgiving levels of difficulty and tedious dungeons.

It’s definitely a flawed game, but if you’re looking for a game reminiscent of SaGa with really difficult battles, fun dungeon crawlers and minimal story, then this game is up your alley. It’s great that this game breaks away from the leveling system used in most JRPGs, but I wish that the game explained its own battle system more. Its other really unique feature is how the field is affected by elements which in turn affects the gameplay, such as increasing or decreasing physical and magical skills as well as affecting the ailment rate, something I really haven’t seen in JRPGs since Tales of the Abyss.

It is a lower budget and somewhat barebones 3DS game remaster, but it harkens back to when JRPGs were more about exploration and the battle system rather than graphics and story. I was able to get the battle system to click for me and the battles felt really addicting. It’s fun to strategize, even for random encounters, and you really need to optimize your team to stand a chance. At the same time, it does get stressful because of the grind and entering a new region only to get one-shotted by the random encounters. The developers definitely missed an opportunity to add easier levels of difficulty.

The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered Review

Our Score: Good

Pros

  • The combat and dungeon crawling is very addicting with many distinct biomes to explore.
  • The picture book aesthetic is pleasing to look at, even if it is just 3DS graphics.
  • The game is very non-linear and you can choose where to go at most points.
  • Using elements in the field is an extremely unique mechanic that affects the flow of combat.
Cons

  • The game is extremely difficult, with so many difficulty spikes in the second half and grueling final bosses. There is no difficulty option.
  • The equipment system could’ve been more in-depth. A crafting system would’ve benefited this game. Having to wait in real life time for equipment shipments is frustrating.
  • The method to gain new abilities and level them up by using them is unique, but ultimately ends up grindy and obtuse. Game doesn’t explain its mechanics and you’ll have to consult online resources to just keep up with enemy encounters.

Brandon Harris
Reviewed on the PC

Brandon is a passionate gamer and reviewer who respects the artistic and technical prowess that goes into creating interactive experiences. He enjoys playing the guitar, volunteering, and traveling to experience different cultures.


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