Review

Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia Review – Lacks the excitement of a legend

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Brigandine debuted over two decades ago on the original PlayStation, and it’s only now that it’s getting a sequel. It might seem like an unlikely candidate for rebirth, but Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia comes at a time when the strategy / RPG genre is gaining attention – in part thanks to the success of Fire Emblem. For those who want something in that vein, it certainly scratches a similar itch. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia personalizes the Strategy / RPG experience by letting you recruit and get to know your fighters in side stories. Watching your team grow in strength and take over new areas makes you feel powerful, even if it lacks variety and becomes repetitive. The gameplay offers a lot of customization and freedom in the way you build an army to take over the world. You begin your journey by choosing from one of six nations, each with its own leader, storyline, and strategic direction. I chose the Republic of Guimoule, where my leader performed under a secret identity as a ballerina, but she has to take a leadership role once her country is in danger. The game positions you well to think and feel for your nation, as everyone has hopes and expectations based on success, like the theocracy of Mana Saleesia waging a holy war in an attempt to convert everyone to their religion. As you pursue power, you see it satisfactorily reflected in the size of your army and occupied bases across a vast map. Your objective is to occupy opposing bases, recruit allies, gather new weapons, and train your fighters – all in the name of total domination. The action is divided into organization and action phases for each turn. In the organization phase, you decide where to move your army, who to send experience or item quests, and how you want to manage your troops, upgrading their classes and summoning monsters for help. These decisions are a balancing act, and I enjoyed deciding when to be aggressive or defensive before even stepping onto the battlefield. Positioning is key, as you need to be adjacent to an area to invade it, but you also can’t leave your bases defenseless. If you send troops to do quests, they are not available to fight if the base is under siege. The challenge comes from having to do everything, and the push-and-pull is well managed; you cannot increase your power without trying to take aggressive control of strong enemies, nor skip quests because of their wonderful rewards. When you reach the attack phase, you can invade the bases of rival nations, each with their own level of power to consider. You can still win if you’re under-leveled, but you might lose monsters that you’d rather keep alive for future encounters. Battles take place on hexagonal grids, where you position your troops and select their actions. You can choose up to three leaders for each invasion, accompanied by a corresponding group of dragons, fairies, and ghouls with their own unique abilities. To complete your engagement, you can deal enough damage and force an enemy to retreat, wipe out the leader completely and recover one of his remaining monsters, or retreat to save face. Watching your units grow and form groups to meet different strategic needs is a fun layer of play. Sometimes my leader was a mage surrounded by golems or dragons for protection. I assembled groups that were all about healing, leaning on my other two factions to do the dirty work. Your approach to combat has a lot of flexibility, and once you start improving your units, you really see the fruits of your labor as their skills increase in number and power. This is especially true when you upgrade their classes, which often plug in and have elementary variations. It’s a lot to tinker with, but also the funniest part of the game, as you have an extensive roster of different classes and unit types with distinct abilities to pursue. I had everything including sea serpents, bred centaurs, pegasi and more in my ranks. Unfortunately, the battles themselves don’t play out in an exciting way. Each invasion feels similar and the action takes place slowly, so the fight feels lethargic instead of energized. In fact, it usually takes a few turns before even reaching the enemy to fight. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia boasts that the different terrains make a difference on the battlefield and turn things upside down, as some classes get bonuses or penalties based on their preferences, but it didn’t look great. – something for me. I factored it into my strategy when I could, but the battles didn’t play out in a spectacular fashion, and it didn’t feel like such a great tool that I could use to my advantage either. Enemies are rarely pushovers, and finishing a battle with your entire team intact is rare. A big part of your success relies on positioning, whether it’s keeping certain units together or spaced out – but the correct approach often depends on sheer luck. It’s frustrating, and I can’t tell you how many battles I’ve restarted because of an unfortunate turn rather than a flaw in my strategy. The presence of permanent death makes it all the more boring. You can revive monsters with their levels intact if you have a special item, but these are quite rare. When you consider how long it takes to grind and upgrade these units into something satisfying, losing them can be downright punishing, and I wish those items weren’t that hard to find. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia does it all pretty well, but there’s nothing remarkable about the experience either. I felt like I was going through the motions without anything significant to keep bringing myself back for those tedious takeovers. The rehearsal bores the adventure and everything unfolds in a predictable way. The game is decent and functional, but it doesn’t have any surprises, big innovations, or memorable moments.

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