Publisher: Another Indie Studio
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Role-Playing & Strategy
Release Date: January 24, 2019 (EU & NA)
LEGRAND LEGACY: Tale of the Fatebounds is successfully crowdfunded indie game that was developed as a “nostalgic love letter to JRPGs”. Not going back quite to the golden age of the 16-bit JRPG, LEGRAND LEGACY instead builds a 3D world of fixed camera angles and turn-based battles of the PlayStation era.
To start off, as we should with all role-playing games, we need to get a little feel for the world and the characters we will spend approximately 40 hours with. We begin our journey as Finn. a gladiator slave that is soon to be purchased by a strange old man in need of a bodyguard to escort him through the very dangerous desert nearby to deliver medicine to his sick daughter.
Upon entering the desert, we are ambushed by a group of bandits and horribly lose the fight for narrative advancement. Finn comes to and finds the old man in the midst of killing one of the thieves and driving off the others as he falls to the ground and dies shortly after giving us the medicine and encouraging us to deliver it to his daughter the next town over.
On our way through the desert, we run into Aria, a lady on a mission in need of an escort for what she believes is the final leg of her journey. She has come seeking counsel from a Dringl (dragon-human hybrid), named Lazarus concerning the ending of an ongoing civil war. Lazarus instructs her through a cut-scene that the civil war is more of a distraction, and that her true purpose lay in traveling the world collecting the armaments of the ancient heroes to prevent a second coming of demons from another dimension.
Obviously flustered and taken aback, Aria reluctantly accepts and decides to accompany Finn to the village where the sick daughter waits to stock up on supplies before continuing her journey. You make it to the town, give the medicine to the sick daughter, and she joins up with you to explore the world.
Finn is a recently freed-slave, after all, and Eris (the daughter), has always been sheltered within her hometown by her father. Part of this is due to being a magical race of people that can heal and communicate telepathically known as the Norn, and partially because he is just a protective old man. You must take Eris with you to the spot her father died so she can perform a ritual, and upon doing this she learns of Aria’s quest and wishes to accompany Finn with Aria to set the world right again.
This begins our proper introduction to the story and its primary characters…but we will come across others as we progress as well. I’ll leave the rest of the story and characters to be discovered as you make your way through the game, but I will say that the game is well-written and the characters all have their own distinct personalities.
They aren’t all fully developed through the story, but there is some advancement, and none of the characters become insufferable, as sometimes happens in role-playing games that stray to the safe side of things. The story is clearly communicated through the adventure, and it is constantly moving forward. There are no slow burns or areas where you are left wandering around trying to figure out what is going on.
There is a bit of grinding that needs to be done from time to time, but it’s not overly necessary until the later in the game, but that really depends on how often you chose to get into fights during dungeons, which leads us to the combat system. Whenever you’re traversing through the overworld, you won’t have to worry about encountering enemies. You just run across the world map, very similar to Final Fantasy 8 if all paths were “on the road”.
When you do get into combat, it has the very familiar turn-based combat interface. Each character has a little pop-up menu on-screen to choose between Attack, Grimoire (Magic), Item, and Misc (which pops up Guard, Change, Flee, and Move. You’ll also have options for enemy info (using the L button), and Arcana (using the R button when your AP gauge is full). You select your action, then select your target to confirm.
You can always back out of a chosen action by pressing the B button, and can even redo commands for the other party members if you decide to take a different tact for the current turn, up until you confirm the last party member’s action. Once you’ve done this, the battle will play out with everyone taking their turns at once, essentially, but you will have an action wheel to gauge the effectiveness of the action.
These aren’t necessary when doing a heal or buff spell, but any attack will require one. There is a wedge of a wheel that represents a “good” attack, and an even smaller slice within that covers a “perfect”. Timing the appropriate button press just right can result in a critical hit that does much more damage. Alternately, pressing the wrong button, or pressing the appropriate button at the wrong time will result in a “poor”, which could mean a hit with reduced damage, or just a complete miss.
While it’s a little tedious, you get used to it pretty early on, and after that point, you just make sure you don’t confirm on your last party member until you are ready to press the button on time. You should get pretty good at it, but because it has to happen with every single attack, you will occasionally flub it up.
Fortunately, the game isn’t so unforgiving that messing those button presses up occasionally won’t hurt you too bad. LEGRAND LEGACY: Tale of the Fatebound uses an elemental weakness system, and also has a weapon type weakness system that it would behooves you to learn early on. Many of your battles will go much more smoothly when recognizing which of your party members will be most effective against certain enemies, and using the other party member for support through grimoire abilities or items.
Each party member can be assigned four grimoire abilities, and four items at a time. While the spells will be easy to figure out, learning which party member is best suited for each type of item is something that will also come in handy throughout the adventure. There are items that heal, revive, buff, cure status effects, as well as inflict status effects on enemies and items that damage them, too.
There is a pretty basic crafting system in LEGRAND LEGACY where you learn recipes to make items, and then you gain the ability to make those items as long as you have the appropriate ingredients, which will mostly come from monsters. This is also the same way that you get new weapons, except that is unlocked as you move through the game and speak the blacksmith in each town.
While I appreciated the flavor of needing to find a blacksmith that knew how to make a weapon and what it took, it often became more of an annoyance that there wasn’t just access to new and improved weapons without having to grind for materials. Each town you go through will have multiple sections to it, and these are accessed from a town map that is unlocked as you take different exits from each given area.
This is a very forward thinking way of allowing you to slowly discover a town at first visit, but makes it very intuitive to backtrack through it when you need to find an important person, item, or event. Each town will have an inn that restores health and AP (which is a great way of getting your Arcana attack back quickly), a smith, a storage facility if you’ve gone over your weight limit, a fast travel where you can buy passage back to any previously visited town, and a merchant that sells items and crafting materials.
Towns are considered safe areas, and so you can generally save anywhere. You will also find some NPCs that give you side quests, and there is a traveling beggar that you will encounter often throughout the game that is full of useful information if you care to learn more about the lore included within the game. Dungeons also have multiple areas to explore, but do not give you the fast travel option that towns do
You will also only be able to save on specific screens (the game will usually autosave on these screens), and there will often be a restore point that gives you back your health, or a merchant to sell goods in these locations. While in dungeons, you will see floating black blobs that represent restless spirits, and running into these blobs (or allowing them to run into you), will trigger a fight with random enemies.
Being able to see your enemies is always preferred to random encounters, and it is also incredibly easy to evade these blobs so that you can avoid fighting altogether if you wish. Once you’ve fought a blob, however, it will remain gone until you exit the dungeon completely and come back. So, if you want to backtrack, or there is a save room before a boss fight, you can clear out the area between the save room and boss fight and then go back to save to get the chance to heal up and not worry about avoiding the same fights you have already completed.
Dungeons don’t have too much exploration to be done, but they do occasionally have a clever puzzle here and there to solve. In a nod to Suikoden, a personal favorite of mine, there are tactical parts of LEGRAND LEGACY where you will be given control of armies on the battlefield. There are a number of generals that you can use in battle, each of which has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Learning the intricacies of this mini-game is better left to when you’re actually there. Also similar to Suikoden is the ability to recruit characters to aid you in rebuilding a destroyed town. It isn’t as extensive as Suikoden’s 108 stars of destiny, and you can’t add all of these people as party members, but it was still a fun little addition to boost up the callbacks in the game.
Now, for the drawbacks. So when I originally went into writing this review, I had quite a list of minor things that made the game unpleasant, but not broken. However, Semisoft pushed out a day one patch for the game that went live early enough for me to play the game a bit more with the patch before putting the finishing touches on my review. Among these were a known bug where autosaves occasionally deleted progress (so it was recommended to keep multiple manual saves).
I never experienced this, but it has been fixed. Loading times going into battles was painfully long, and if it weren’t for the battle music playing during the screen freeze that accompanied the load times, I would often think that the game was freezing. This was fixed in the patch- as was the noticeable silence between a music track ending and starting over to loop, background music disappearing after you went to the home menu, and some very obvious frame stuttering on character animations when just moving around town.
In scenes where characters have longer dialogue strings, the text would start off at one size and then resize to make room for the rest of the dialogue, but now it’s consistently the same size throughout. So, while LEGRAND LEGACY: Tale of the Fatebounds started off with some noticeable issues that brought the gameplay experience down, the devs made sure to get these issues addressed in time for the actual release of the game, and I always appreciate prompt fixes from devs, as it shows they really care about their product.
From what I understand, the game also went through a rewrite from its original release on Steam and the current release, and it shows since I didn’t even know it was an issue until I went back looking for possible differences between the PC and Switch versions. The only remaining drawback to the game that can be found isn’t something that can be patched out, but is just an issue of the chosen art style and camera presentation.
Sometimes, it can be difficult discern exactly which direction you need to go to get where you want to, and whether or not an object is going to block your progress or not can be hard to tell. There are convenient green arrows that point the way to exits, which helps a lot. Money also seems to be a very well rationed resource in the game. I often found myself without enough money to even purchase a stay in the inn, and that was mitigated when I realized that you just have to sell off the occasional gold craft item (which reminds me of the nuggets from Pokémon).
LEGRAND LEGACY: Tale of the Fatebounds is an amazing homage to games that came to the original PlayStation. It is distinct enough from many of those games that I won’t dismissively refer to it as a clone of one or the other, but it definitely wears its influences on its sleeve. That isn’t a bad thing, but these legacy gameplay mechanics could be a turnoff for newcomers or those unfamiliar with the giants upon whose shoulder LEGRAND LEGACY rides.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Another Indie Studio
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