I’m one of those people who has been bitten by the JRPG bug. I just find something magical in the way a good JRPG combines an epic plot, unique characters, and battle systems. There’s nothing that makes me happier than playing a game which makes great use of this formula, but unfortunately, Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds just isn’t one of those games. It’s not that it’s a bad game, but it’s so aggressively mediocre, so overflowing with tropes and long-winded, unnecessary explanations that it becomes a bit of a chore to slog through.
The slow, loquacious pace of Legrand Legacy really is tragic, because the game itself is gorgeous. Brimming with hand drawn art, the scenery is beautiful, even when it’s bleak, and full of great little interactive elements, such as skeletons which hide treasure. These are so perfectly incorporated that you’d mistake them as a simple detail of the scenery if not for the little gleams of light, which your attention and encourage you to investigate. I honestly found myself playing the game just to see new locations, rather than to lose myself in the plot.
Legrand Legacy hits all of the major RPG tropes; it features a lead character with amnesia and a strange power he doesn’t know how to unlock or control, strong female characters who drag him into a bigger adventure, a world in danger, and while I don’t know quite how, I’m sure that crystals were somehow involved. Also, slavery is bad, don’t worry, that character is one of the pure Norns, and that character has to save the world from a war; not the war the world is currently fighting, mind you, but a war that is coming. I say all that because it’s all you’ll be hearing for the first several hours of the game. Over and over again, as characters argue over the details, ask questions only be told the history lessons will come later, and hear from NPCs how bad slavery is. Over. And over. And over again.
If you’re looking for plot, it’s there, but it’s buried under a huge quantity of unnecessary dialogue. Legrand Legacy would really benefit from an editor who could make dialogue sound more natural and trim a whole lot of it out. You could probably remove about half of the dialogue from the game and still have a complete understanding of what’s going on. I get why the game is written the way it is; they’re trying to build a sense of how big this world is while building suspense by leaving some questions unanswered, but the ratio is way off, especially in the early game, when you don’t know or even care much about the world or characters yet. Once you get past the first several hours, things do pick up a little, but the characters just keep on rambling, arguing pointlessly among themselves, asking questions no one will answer, and, my personal favorite, even giving a history lesson as a giant monster literally prepares to eat them.
Battles are turn based, require a bit of tactics, move quickly, but rather brutal. The thumbstick navigation allows you to quickly choose between basic attacks, Grimoire, which is a kind of magic system, defending, swapping teammates, changing formations, or using items. Each character can only equip four Grimoire, which don’t require any kind of magic points to cast, but do go off later in the turn, since they need to be charged. The casting of a Grimoire can interrupted if the casting character is attacked before they cast their spell. Also, each character can only use up to four items in combat, and these need to be equipped prior to entering a battle; I had to restart many a time because I jumped into a fight with a new teammate only to realize I forgot to equip them with healing items.
When attacking, defending, or using a Grimoire, you select your move, then have to play a timing-based mini-game where you press the corresponding button at the correct time to score a good or perfect hit; get the timing wrong and you’ll do significantly less damage. Characters can also build up to an Arcana move, a powerful attack similar to a Limit Break in the Final Fantasy games. These moves are unique to each character and come with their own little cut scenes. They’re incredibly powerful and can do some serious damage very quickly. That’s good, because while Legrand Legacy does allow you to adjust the difficulty on the fly, battles can be surprisingly difficult, and bosses can decimate a party without much warning.
Items and money are not overly abundant in this game, and that can make traversing the maps challenging. Fortunately, there are glowing green healing cracks in the earth scattered throughout most dungeons, which I generally used as a home base while grinding my team for levels. Combat also requires a bit of strategy, as each character and monster have elemental strengths and weaknesses. Deciding which characters to have in your party and which Grimoire to use can mean the difference between a quick victory and a prolonged, painful fight. I was initially excited to see what kind of tactics formations would bring to the game, it really only means that you can use Grimoire to hit back row units whenever you wish, while you’ll have to kill off enemies in the front row before using melee attacks on monsters in the back.
As I mentioned before, the artwork and locations in this game are some of its best features. The entire mood of the game is somber and a bit melancholy, and while each location keeps with this tone, they all feel distinct and unique. The same can’t be said for the enemies. While you can see monsters on the overworld map, allowing you to pick fights, avoid them, or even sneak up on them for a combat advantage, there are no unique monster sprites in the overworld. They all look like black balls of smoke with a red eyeball, so you won’t actually know what you’re fighting until the battle has begun.
On the technical side, Legrand Legacy is bug free and plays quite well on the Switch. There’s a bit of a load time when you initially start up the game, but switching between maps, in and out of battles, and opening menus is quite snappy, definitely better than most RPGs I’ve played on the Switch, though not quite up to the level of Pokemon: Let’s Go! The music is pleasant but unremarkable, and the thumbstick controls play very nicely with the Switch’s hardware. Perhaps my only complaint is that they do require you to use the left joystick to move around, so you can’t use the right thumbstick play one-handed while your Switch is docked. There’s also no voice acting in the game, which I can’t decide if I should list as a pro or a con; I’m a sucker for good voice acting, but given the sheer amount of dialogue in this game, I can’t imagine how much it would have cost to voice it all. It’s probably better to go without than have to sit through thousands of lines of badly read text.
Legrand Legacy does a good job of scratching at a nostalgic itch, but it doesn’t really bring anything new, unique, or exciting to the table. While the artwork is gorgeous, the characters are fine, the story is generic but interesting enough, the combat uses both turn based and timing mechanics; everything about it is fine, but it lacks in anything exciting or original. It’s a decent game with some truly pretty areas to run around in, and outside of the overly chatty characters, is a fine way to lose a little time in a beautiful but trope-filled world.
Legrand Legacy: Tale of the Fatebounds
Legrand Legacy is a pretty but otherwise generic RPG. It’s beautifully hand-drawn world gets lost beneath mountains of dialogue and a plot so weighed down by tropes that it barely stays afloat. It’s a passable to good title, but none of its elements come together to create anything new, exciting, inspiring, or terribly memorable.