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Langrisser Mobile (Android) artwork

Langrisser Mobile (Android) review

"A fun diversion, at least until all the party-maintaining busy-work wears you down."

I feel compelled to give Zlongame credit for Langrisser Mobile. From my handful of experiences with the mobile gaming scourge known as "free-to-play," these games tend to follow the same path. You start out, quickly amass a lot of resources to carry you through early challenges, gain enough rewards from succeeding in those challenges to go a ways further into the game and then eventually hit a wall. At this point, you have three choices: break down and start spending money to purchase goods that will carry you for a little while longer, only play it in really small doses determined by how long your stamina meter can hold out before depleting and forcing you to wait for it to replenish, or simply say "that's that" and delete it from your device.

I've played Langrisser Mobile for somewhere in the vicinity of 15 hours over the last couple weeks, and haven't ever felt a need to contemplate those options. Stamina is plentiful and can be replenished easily, nearly every battle has been low-cost and, overall, I don't know when I've encountered a free-to-play as reluctant to demand players open their wallets as this one.

Langrisser is supposedly a legendary series of turn-based strategy role-playing games. I say "supposedly" because, with one Sega Genesis exception (dubbed Warsong), it stayed in Japan until now, leaving me a bit out of the loop. Full disclosure: this likely is a primary reason why I haven't felt the need to open my wallet to progress. Regardless of how awesome Langrisser fans may feel the various characters are, I hadn't heard of any of them, so I felt no compulsion to obtain anyone. I spent the entirety of my time with the initial few I've obtained, as they can form a diverse party capable of handling every situation I've encountered. Meanwhile, I've ignored new ones that I've gained, as well as those special ticket draws allowing one to pray to the random number god that they'll get big names such as valiant general Leon or evil overlord Bozel.

Mobile seeks to rectify Westerners' ignorance of this series, as it not only has its own original story, but also allows gamers to play through truncated versions of older installments. After doing a bit of research, I learned the main draw of the series is how you can change allegiances to alter the story, turning former enemies into friends and former friends into battlefield opponents. While there are criticisms based on how your main character's entire attitude and motivations may abruptly change the instant he moves from one side to another, it's easy to see how something like this might add to a game's replay value.

Now, I can't say whether Langrisser Mobile's story replicates those branching paths, but its first dozen or more chapters are pretty linear and, from a story-telling perspective, generic. You start with three original characters, who are quickly joined by a handful from older games, as they are forced to flee their town because one of them is accused of being a witch by the shady-looking Archbishop who serves as the area's king. This sets up many, many chapters that find your party roaming a map, going from dot to dot and fighting battles, having conversations and obtaining treasure. Occasionally, a side path opens up to lead to a few additional fights. Or, perhaps, one of those mandatory battles is an introduction to a new feature you'll be wanting to regularly experience because it gives good loot. But yeah, the story. Uh…I remember being told to collect stuff for a floating city and I think that hometown village got burned down by the Archbishop's men. And you'll occasionally get to watch one of those cryptic conversations between other characters that are a core staple of games such as this.

But this game is about the action, not the story-telling, and you'll constantly find yourself in battles. You'll usually have five guys on your team, although some fights give you a smaller party, and you'll take on a comparable or slightly larger number of enemy units. Much like Fire Emblem, this game uses the "rock, paper, scissors" method of fighting where each type of unit is strong against one other type and weak against another. While older Langrisser titles had large numbers of subordinate units made of generic soldiers, this game simplifies things, turning those generics into part of each character's force. Therefore, everyone on a battlefield essentially has two life bars, one for them and one for their troops.

Basic attacks will provide the bulk of your combat moves, but each character can learn a few skills that range from passive boosts to powerful attacks. Most of those attacks have a cool-down period to prevent you from spamming them, but others, such as healing spells, can be cast every turn. Which I appreciated. When playing a game where my offense is partially determined by how much health my heroes possess and how many troops they still have, it's nice to be able to replenish both those numbers whenever necessary.

With small numbers of enemies on battlefields that aren't particularly large in scope, it doesn't take long to get through the average fight, allowing a person to do a lot of stuff without eating up a lot of time. This is good because there is a lot of stuff that I can do. Too much, to be honest.

To start with, one of the most important things to obtain in Langrisser Mobile is team experience, which can be obtained from winning battles and as rewards for completing the game's various daily challenges. It's important because no individual member of your party can have his or her level raised higher than your team experience level, so you can have hundreds of experience-boosting items in your inventory and, therefore, have the ability to boost a few characters several levels each, but be unable to simply because their potential is determined by that team experience level.

You'll also realize that the team experience bonuses you get from doing those daily challenges are often larger than what you'd get from simply fighting battles. And those daily challenges also tend to give other much-needed awards. Take part in the training battles hosted by those Cho Aniki bodybuilder dudes (both series originated with the same company) and you'll get all sorts of items used to buff those generic troops packaged with each hero. Handing out gifts to teammates to improve intimacy bonds will give stat enhancements to main character Matthew, as well as the recipients. Another training battle offers loads of experience-boosting items, those time rifts to past Langrisser games have plenty of their own rewards and there is an arena where you can fight random collections of heroes for money and tokens. You can even get those bonuses from doing ticket draws or giving a character an experience boost!

And that is where the cracks start falling. As you progress through the main quest, you'll find that the suggested level for your team does increase fairly quickly as you progress through each short chapter and its handful of battles, so you'll want to get every team experience boost you can in order to have your characters binge on items to quickly raise their levels. And you'll want to feed inferior weaponry and forging tools to your equipment to make it stronger. And do the training to get better troops that are capable of standing up to enemy forces. And so on and on and forth, until you realize that you're spending far more time doing busywork than anything of actual substance.

Eventually, no matter how big a fan you are of strategic turn-based games, this will put a huge dent in your enjoyment of Mobile. Each of the various training battles is the same, only with higher-level enemies being unlocked as you progress, making all the busywork feel quite repetitive after a while. And when it comes to games like this, where you're essentially playing a sort of chess match against enemy troops, looking to match your strengths against their weaknesses while preventing them from doing the same, you do not want repetitive. And you definitely don't want to do the same dozen things every day in order to maximize your growth, so you can consistently progress through the game.

Even with all that said, I can't be overly critical of Langrisser Mobile. I remember when I downloaded Final Fantasy Record Keeper and was so, so excited about being able to mix-and-match characters from virtually every game in that series to go through fights and defeat bosses. That excitement faded amazingly quickly when I got to a certain point and realized I'd only be able to do a couple small groupings of battles at a time before needing to wait for however long it took for stamina to recharge. With this game, that moment has not come and I was able to get a good couple weeks of free entertainment before starting to find things annoying enough to make me want to step back. And, hell, I don't even always get that sort of result from games I spent $50 to play. This isn't a be-all, end-all app that'll revolutionize phone gaming, but it's far better than I expected from a free-to-play title.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (February 23, 2019)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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