To Save Your Sister You Need To… : Legasista Review For PS3
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3
JRPGs are one of the most divisive genres in gaming, in that players either love them and spend countless hours with their favourite games, or hate them and refuse to step foot even in those titles that receive almost limitless critical acclaim. Whichever of these two camps you happen to fall into, Legasista, with its near-nonsensical storyline, eclectic cast of characters, and grinding gameplay, isn’t a genre-breaking game that will attract new JRPG fans, but it does enough to please those that already exist.
Legasista tells the story of a futuristic world in which science is no longer performed, and is viewed with almost the same reverence as magic. Within this world resides Alto, whose sister for reasons unknown, has been turned into a crystal and is carried around in Alto’s pocket. In an attempt to turn her back into her original human form, Alto has opted to venture into one of the mysterious towers scattered around this world, in an effort to find the ‘ultimate weapon’, which may prove to be his last remaining hope to save his sister.
To do this, Alto must climb the tower by way of battling through various levels, which are broken down into several themed dungeons. These dungeons are further divided into a selection of stages, each lasting no more than a couple of minutes. Legasista would be a perfect release on a handheld system, as quick bursts of gameplay seem to suit the setup better than extended sessions. However, the game does have a habit of infecting the player with a vicious case of ‘one more go’ syndrome, meaning that an intended session of 20-30 minutes can all too easily turn into a couple of hours.
That’s not to say that Legasista is a shallow experience, though. The sheer number of items and weapons that can be collected is staggering, and when this is combined with the near limitless options related to character customization, the amount of choice presented to the player in terms of how to approach each dungeon is impressive. For novice JRPG players, the myriad of statistics, numbers and bonuses can be a little confusing, even though the game does contain a fairly comprehensive tutorial system to help out.
The dungeons themselves are set up in a way that players familiar with old-school Legend of Zelda games will recognize, although they play out at a much faster pace. Viewed from a top-down perspective, Alto must battle monsters, dodge traps, hit switches and unlock doors before he can reach the exit. Most dungeons also contain a secret area where enemies are tougher, but potential treasure rewards are greater. These areas are often accessible a few levels after the dungeon has originally been cleared, and play an important part in the grinding portions of the game.
As mentioned, dodging traps is an important part of making it out of dungeons alive. Whilst this is true, skilled players will also be able to use said traps as offensive weapons, by using a mixture of mixture of trickery and timing to aim the projectiles into a monster’s path. Some traps bestow poison unto the player, but this isn’t always a bad thing, as some actually give statistic boosts to the player. Poisons are broken down into four categories based on colour, and each category contains four different poison types. Taken individually, their effects aren’t too severe, ranging from not being able to cast magic to not being able to tell various enemy types apart, but if you contract all four types of one colour, it spells instant death for your character. The yellow poisons, though, grant bonuses to Alto, but the rule of four still holds true.
Some of the traps and monsters can be fairly difficult to avoid, particularly in the later levels when space gets tight and the level of danger increases. Whilst this is partly down to the difficulty rising, Alto’s quest isn’t aided by some control issues that make getting where you want to go more troublesome than necessary. This is because the dungeons are presented as open spaces, where Alto can travel in any direction he wants, and whilst this mainly rings true, actual character movement seems to be based on a grid system, meaning that travelling in straight lines and turning are two separate entities. When travelling at speed, this translates to mistimed avoidances with monsters due to intended diagonal turns becoming a mixture of separate right angled turns. It means that movement isn’t as smooth as it could be, and often leaves you bumping into things that you would otherwise avoid.
Aesthetically, Legasista is fairly standard for a 2D-based JRPG, with manga-esque character models in cutscenes and some interesting character design decisions. During said cutscenes characters are voiced in Japanese, with English subtitles, and whilst this does avoid the age-old problem of dodgy synchronization and voice acting, the voices used for some of the characters can be quite squeaky and annoying. Legasista also has a strange fascination with bean sprouts, either talking or not, and a lot of the attempted humour revolves around a couple of bean sprout-based characters. It’s a weird blend that succeeds as a complete package , but some individual aspects will understandably be enough to turn off gamers due to the exaggerated sense of the abnormal that pervades.
Legasista is a game that falls squarely into the middle of the JRPG camp. It doesn’t really do much that hasn’t been seen before, and it doesn’t do anything to make it more accessible to Western gamers, with a crazy storyline, cast of characters and sense of humour. However, it offers up a compelling gameplay experience, with fast-paced and frantic dungeon-running mixed with an impressive series of character customization options. Whatever your view of JRPGs, Legasista isn’t going to change your mind, but if you were already a fan, this game could keep you occupied for a while.
Score: 4.75 / 5.0
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