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Legasista (PlayStation 3) artwork

Legasista (PlayStation 3) review

"I was almost Cla-DONE with this game before I even reached the final boss..."

Legasista (PlayStation 3) image

Legasista is not part of the ClaDun franchise, though they share the same developer and a handful of features. The two games play similarly, sporting almost identical mechanics and presentation. They both include hub areas that house dungeons, provide you with levels that are structurally alike and star a cast of quirky, anime-inspired characters. The only real difference is that Legasista attempts to spin a more serious yarn, though it utilizes more of the same tropes we've seen from JRPGs since the early 2000s.

And just like ClaDun: This is an RPG, Legasista's key components are both terrific and flawed, coming together to create a mediocre experience.

The latter game handles wonderfully because of its fluid animation and tight control response. As a result, its difficulty rating remains fairly balanced throughout its campaign, and its action chugs along at an appropriate pace. You can breathe a sigh of relief whenever a sizable horde of monsters comes your way. You know that you'll be able to move as quickly as you can think, and handle tense battles with without blaming faulty mechanics. Moments like these, when you're surrounded by numerous foes and scrambling to fight them off, make up the best segments the game has to offer, mostly thanks to its all around stability.

Unfortunately scenes like the one described above are few and far between, and are more prominent in the latter half of the campaign. The first half, however, consists of basic 2D dungeons with few exciting, interesting or challenging segments. Most of them are straightforward stages with, at most, a whopping four enemies within proximity of one another. You can handle these underwhelming situations with only a few sword strokes and moderate maneuvering. As you can tell, Legasistsa's early phases are simplistic in design and ultimately boring.

Legasista (PlayStation 3) image

Thankfully, you find reasons to continue playing despite those tedious early levels. Stage designs eventually become more intricate during the campaign's second half. Lifeless hallways vanish, making room for convoluted corridors and deadly traps. Scorching flamethrowers aim to reduce you to ashes, and ordinary dirt floors transform into slippery sheets of ice, accompanied by tremendous blades. Even the bestiary sees significant improvements. Where before you might've battled a couple of lizardmen or a few poisonous mushrooms, you now face legions of giant toads, boulder-lobbing minotaurs and menacing dark knights. To make matters worse, roadblocks and locked doors restrict your movement, forcing you to trudge through packed crowds of these suckers. Times like these are some of the best: when creatures are plentiful, the challenge factor is tight and levels are complex. It's just a shame that the whole experience couldn't have been this engaging...

Eventually, you'll either grow tired of the story levels or find progress difficult because your equipment isn't up to scratch. Randomized dungeons called "Ran-Geons" come to your rescue, which offer optional levels packed with tough creatures and impressive goodies. Early Ran-Geons start with low item drop rates, worthless loot and pathetic enemies. As you advance, though, you can boost or lower all three factors by passing through certain gates to the next floor. An Angel Gate, for instance, increases drop rates and bumps up the likelihood of locating rare equipment. On the other hand, Devil and Hell Gates severely lower drop rates and strengthen your adversaries, sometimes ridiculously so. Level 2 monsters could thus become level 42 face-breakers in a single stage leap.

Gates also gain levels seemingly at random, which super boosts their benefits or hindrances. In other words, you could wind up with drop rates well over 100 points or see enemy levels advance beyond 200. In either case, though, there is a great potential for awesome equipment.

Legasista (PlayStation 3) image

Loot can make or break a dungeon crawler, depending on how it's handled. Somehow, Legasista creates a paradox by both making and breaking itself based on its loot system. You see, this adventure features no item shop or in-game currency, and that notion is both liberating and damning. I say the former because the lack of an item shop prevents you from stockpiling healing potions and purchasing your way to victory. In other words, you don't have to fret about how many potions you possess, or worry yourself sick because you may not have enough consumables to deal with the coming challenges. You also don't have to spend countless hours racking up coins so you can afford the latest armor and weapons. You can't farm restoratives, either, because they disappear from your inventory when you complete a level. You only have your wits and your character's build to save you from defeat.

At the same time, the absence of an item shop is the pits. Since you can't purchase better pieces of equipment, you're forced to stumble upon them in dungeons. This setup wouldn't be troulbesome if drop rates were balanced for all item types, but they aren't. Now, instead of spending countless hours pinching pennies, you'll hunt for ages for weapon and armor upgrades.

In my case, I decided I needed a new piece of armor at one point, and thus stepped into the Ran-Geon thinking I'd find one in no time. I scoured those dungeons for three days before I found a worthwhile piece. Three days! Most of my excursions in that time were fruitless, not even begetting a piece of leather armor. Even though I did eventually nab something adequate, the fact that it took so long is ludicrous. There's no reason I should have to spend three days trying to obtain a basic piece of equipment.

Legasista (PlayStation 3) image

This wasn't the only time I devoted long hours to pounding through dungeons so I could nab a particular item, too. It happened often enough that at times I considered "shelfing" Legasista and moving on to better projects. It's not as though the game didn't already have strikes against it. Between this and lackluster entertainment values, I found giving up a tempting option.

Every time Legasista takes a step, it also stumbles. Every enjoyable moment comes with either a string of disheartening functions or ho-hum scenarios. Whenever the game reveals a new feature, it's both a blessing and a curse. Never mind that you can create warriors and customize equipment, because the going is often tedious and the experience demands the patience of a saint. I still stand by one thing, though: the ClaDun formula can work, and maybe will work one day. However, Legasista provides almost no support for that claim...


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (July 17, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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