Developer: System Prisma
Genre: Action RPG, Dungeon Crawler
Platform: PlayStation Network
Dungeon crawler fans rejoice, because Legasista is exactly what you’ve been craving. Legasista is a top down, action RPG that focuses its story around Alto Straiter. Alto is looking for a way to turn his sister back into human form after turning into a crystal. He carries her around, with the hope that by traveling through the dangerous Ivy Tower, that he will be able to bring her back to normal.
The game starts off a bit slow and tedious, but don’t let that discourage you. There is a lot of tutorials along that stop your progress while traversing a dungeon, but they eventually come to an end and you are not bothered with them again. A little bean sprout, with a lively and positive outlook on life, helps Alto learn the ropes of equipping, attacks, different poisons, and traps. The bean sprouts themselves, who are an edible yet intelligent life form, have a bitter-sweetness about them. Since they are the main source of food on the Railyard (tended and cared for by Ms. Dungeon), they take their fate with honor, and are happy to let you eat them. They make such comments, basically stating, “Please eat me, before I get old and shrivel up. I must fulfill my duty.” I thought the little bean sprouts were cute, but I was sad about their inevitable fate.
After going through a tutorial that felt just a little long for me, despite how much it was actually needed, you are able to freely progress through the dungeons.
The game can be played with minimal knowledge of all the options, or players have the ability to customize characters in great detail. The main area in the game, you will see time and time again, is the Railyard. The Railyard is simply a grassy area with a couple of railroad tracks, bean sprouts, and a campsite. After you end a dungeon, by either completing it or dying, you are sent back to the Railyard.
Each dungeon takes anywhere between one to five minutes. Very rarely did I find a dungeon that took longer than four minutes to complete. After finishing a dungeon it displays the clear time, experience gained, current experience, and what is needed for the next level. At any time you can go back and replay levels to increase your level experience.
Perishable items such as any healing item or keys will disappear after completing a dungeon, and is never taken with. The only item you can take with you outside of a dungeon are weapons. The exception to this is if you are killed and defeated in a dungeon, then all loot is dropped.
Dying does have its disadvantages. If you die, you only receive half the experience you would have gotten if you actually defeated the dungeon, and are sent back to the Railyard. And, as I said before, any weapons or armor acquired in that particular dungeon will be dropped and disappear from your inventory.
There are several different types of poisons and status effects. Each type of poison is attributed to a color. Be poisoned five times by the same poison type, and it is an instant death no matter how much health you have. Poisons also never go away over time. The only way to remove a poison is either by leaving the dungeon or finding a detox potion.
Throughout the combat on your journey, your armor and weapons take damage. Eventually your items can break, leaving you completely defenseless and without a weapon. All weapons and armor can be restored just by returning to the Railyard.
What I liked about the gameplay was though all the options seem a little overwhelming at first, the game gives you the ability to slowly learn the ropes. If you’re having a problem proceeding, you can always replay old dungeons to acquire experience, weapons, and have just a bit longer to understand all the different features you can play with. You can also read a description about everything at any time in the game, if you are confused about a function.
Eventually you get the option to dig and explore down the Ran-geon dungeons. When looking for a place to dig, the cursor will show you what monster level to expect, how many floors there are to the dungeon, the item and equipment drop percent rate. I found the Ran-geon dungeons a good opportunity for me to build my level and acquire some new weapons. The reason for this was because instead of doing a flash dungeon and be in and out in a minute and a half, the Ran-geon dungeons gave you a chance to do multiple areas in a row.
There are several different gates to choose from when moving further in the Ran-geon. Sometimes the level will increase only slightly, while other times you are doomed with an area with monsters hundreds of levels higher than you. You can do nothing but run for your life and hope to find a way out, but usually it leads to death.
As you proceed through the Ran-geon you also have the opportunity to safely leave the dungeon, with the ability to keep all your loot and experience. This was nice to have the escape option scattered throughout so that you don’t have to go through all the levels, which could be anywhere from 30 to 100 levels.
The gameplay is fast paced, yet there is still a high level of strategy behind it. You can’t always go through a dungeon and plow your way through the enemies.
Within the dungeons there are all different monster types and traps. Certain monsters I found, like the sliding penguins drove me crazy. Each monster has its own ability and weaknesses, such as a spider throwing its web across your character to slow you down or an armored knight that you can only attack from the back.
Traps aren’t always a bad thing, as from time to time I used them to my advantage. Spike traps, bombs, and the like I would activate at the precise time just to eliminate an enemy. The healing trap is a huge advantage when going through a dungeon and helps even more than the consumables, I felt. However, step on a healing trap next to an enemy, and you just healed your foe as well.
My biggest gripe with all of the traps and dangerous environment affects, was that there were times it made a level feel almost impossible. Sometimes I felt like everything on the map was exploding or stabbing me at once. Ouch!
Some dungeons got very frustrating, which forced me to do a lot of level grinding on previous levels or down the Ran-geons.
Along the way you meet up with a few other characters. The first playable character you meet after Alto is Melize. Melize starts off as a heartless character who wants to kill Alto as payment to save his sister, but then suffers a bout of amnesia right before doing the deed. She turns into a confused, yet loveable character who just wants to acquire her memories and make Alto happy.
There are other playable characters, such as Stout and Leina, that you meet along the way. Legasista allows you to create a team of three to bring into the dungeon. Though you can only play one person at a time, you can switch characters on the fly seamlessly depending on the situation. If one character dies, it immediately switches to the next character in line. Only when your whole party wipes, or you give up, do you fail a dungeon and go back to the Railyard.
From being basically a straight up dungeon crawler, Legasista has a pretty decent story that keeps you going til the end. I happened to really like all the characters, as their dialog was sweet and memorable. Like from what I said prior, the little bean sprouts will tug at your heart-strings. You’ll love them and feel sorry for them all at once.
The sound was fantastic, as I really enjoyed the Japanese voice actors. And if I had to pick two of my favorite voices it would be that of Stout and Melize. I think they read their lines expressively and gave a lot of breath to each character. I always appreciate being able to listen to the original Japanese track in games, and am never bothered when an English dubbing is not offered. However, I could be the minority on this, and JRPGs are one of my top genres of choice.
The music was a mixed bag of sound, but what was presented was fun, colorful, and fit the mood precisely. Some of the songs were slow with a soft piano, while others were jazzy with what sounded like a saxophone leading the melody.
The graphics are basic 2D sprites which are colorful and well thought out. There are always different enemy types to see, which made each dungeon felt fresh and different from the last. During cutscenes you will see basic character full body profiles, with no animation. Instead, their stance or facial expression changes. When they move it is more like a paper doll cutout panning across the screen. Still, the images are appealing to the eye, and the character expressions often change to fit the mood.
There is a ton of customization in Legasista, which includes being able to import images and use those files in the game. Further into the game you also have the ability to access the Jukebox. This Jukebox allows you to disable or enable certain songs throughout the game. That way, if there’s a song you don’t like, you can shut it off when you’re grinding levels.
Another customization choice is changing jobs. Jobs cannot be changed until you reach level 20. Jobs to switch to include: warrior, explorer, pyro, cryo, thief, and war mage.
What worked well in Legasista was the nice menu setup for choosing dungeons. When selecting an old dungeon you completed, it would not only tell you how many times you completed it, but also how long it took you to complete it. This gave me a good idea as to which dungeon in the list it was that I liked. Certain dungeons I liked the layout for and enemies inside; therefore, I chose those to level grind. I would select the dungeon list and find the one that said I played it multiple times.
After the initial tutorial, the game didn’t bother you with meaningless chatter. A cutscene would play after completing a section of dungeons, that would always progress the story line. The option to skip was there, for those that are not into playing for a story.
I enjoyed the characters and a game as a whole, but there were a few frustrating points that made it hard to progress, such as the invincible monsters, landing in a Ran-geon floor with monsters level 800+, and an over abundance of traps.
I appreciated that the game allowed me to go back to previously cleared dungeons, or move through the Ran-geons in order to level up.
In the end, Legasista is a highly recommended game for dungeon crawler fans. There is plenty of customization if you are into that sort of thing, but you can also make it through the game by just equipping the best weapon and armor you pick up as you go along. As there are no item shops or currency in Legasista, you depend solely on what you find.
Though completing the game with minimal customization and level grinding is not a long feat, (about 15+ hours after level grinding) there is still much gameplay to be had for those wanting to add their own character images, weapon customization, or try out and level all the different jobs.
Legasista is a fun adventure, and shouldn’t be overlooked. I am currently working my creative juices, imagining what unique and original character sprite I can make for the game.
Find Legasista on PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3, August 21st, 2012.
To view more screenshots of the game, check out our other previous post here.