Saturday, April 21, 2018

Legend: Very Silly Parties

I wonder if "Beamday" is anything like "Sunday."
          
There are a number of promising elements in Legend, but they just don't create a satisfying gameplay experience. To start, the puzzle difficulty is severely unbalanced. When I broke after the first entry, I was trying to figure out the final major puzzle in the first dungeon. It involved casting "Missile Damage" spells at a rune, which caused flames to belt out of a couple of pillars, which struck other runes, which caused other things to happen. Ultimately, I had to hit the runes in the right pattern to create a path across the water to the room's exit.
           
Apparently, after choosing the path, you can choose multiple effects, including the same effect multiple times.
          
Even with the hint that I had to use some "Double Missile Damage" spells, I couldn't figure it out. I had to look up a walkthrough to see the correct pattern, which was:
          
  • Cast "Missile Damage" at the rune.
  • Cast "Double Missile Damage" at the rune.
  • Have a character other than the caster pull a lever.
  • Cast "Missile Damage" at the rune.
  • Pull the lever again
  • Cast "Missile Damage" at the rune.
  • Cast "Double Missile Damage" at the rune
  • Pull the lever again.
  • Cast "Missile Damage" at the rune.
  • Pull the lever again.
  • Cast "Missile Damage" at the rune.
  • Cast "Double Missile Damage" at the rune.
          
I mean, seriously? This was supposed to be discernible by a player playing blind? I get the idea of trying things and testing effects, but that only works when the effects are consistent and repeatable. When different things happen in response to the same spell in different strengths or at different times, it's pretty frustrating to figure out. And when the right sequence involves 12 friggin' steps, that frustration turns to fury.
            
Casting one of many spells on a rune.
          
With the puzzle solved, I was able to get the final keys necessary to shut off the traps and claim the treasure in the final room. The treasure turned out to be a "permit" giving me permission to visit King Necrix III.
         
Gasp. It's all been a test!
         
Necrix's castle was a brief hop back on the main map. There the king gave me some money and a key and told me to destroy the evil in the city of Fagranc. Developer Anthony Taglione doesn't really have a gift for fantasy names. "Trazere" is okay, but "Necrix" and "Fagranc" are both goofy, as was "Bloodwych" and its villain "Zendick."
             
The first quest.
          
Fagranc turns out to be on an island at the top of the map. It's only about half a map away as the crow flies, but to reach it, the party had to basically circle the entire land--around a couple of mountain ranges, through a narrow valley, and across a causeway to the island. I did it in stages, stopping in each city along the way to see what I could find.
          
My party and various armies roam the game map.
          
In one, the bartender told me to see his colleague in Groghurst for some news; the Groghurst (there's another one) bartender told me that the Druids have the "key to the secrets within MoonHenge" (and another). In another, I stopped in a temple and donated money to increase my "luck" score. I didn't really talk about it last time, but every character has a "luck" attribute that will save them from death in combat, depleting one point for every save. My assassin and runemaster were at 0 after the first dungeon.

In some tavern at the south end of the map, I ran into a minstrel who offered to teach the game's other songs for a fee. Not knowing when I'd see him again, I bought them all--exhausting my finances in the process. They include "The Thief of Dolik Pass," which increases everyone's dexterity; "Smithy Song," which increases armor class, and "Dance of the Faerie Queen," which increases speed. Others increase strength, defense, constitution, and intelligence. I'll have to experiment with their utility, but I can imagine keeping the original song, which regenerates health, most of the time.
            
Better than "The Thief of Buckblow Pass," I guess.
          
In Eb's Pass, I bought horses for the characters, improving the speed of overland travel.
            
"Eb's Pass" is, at least, two short to be risible.
          
As I approached the island, I decided to try my first "banner encounter." As the characters march across the map, so do various armies, both good (blue) and bad (red). The sigils displayed by these armies give a sense of their relative strength. There are 7 such sigils, ranging from hawk (weak) to skull (strong). I attacked an enemy with a pair of serpents, indicating the second-lowest difficulty.
             
Encountering a foe in the wilds.
          
The ensuing battle wasn't really any different than a long combat in a dungeon room. The same options applied. We won in a couple chaotic minutes. The runemaster died, but I got her resurrected in a nearby town. I think the banner encounters are necessary in a way; if you don't kill the evil armies occasionally, they eventually take over the land. 
           
A "banner fight."
        
As I close this unfortunately brief entry, I'm in the Fagranc dungeon, convinced I made a big mistake. The combats are so much more difficult here than the first dungeon, and the runemaster dies in just about every encounter. I clearly need to boost my use of magic, and in consulting the manual, I see that the mage "Mantric" (yep), who sells additional runes, is located somewhere way back near Treihadwyl (uh-huh). I also spent most of the money I'd use to buy runes, so even if I traipse back there, I'll probably have to grind in the starting dungeon for gold and perhaps a level for my weak runemaster.
            
If they were going for an anagram of "Fragrance," why not "Grafcenar"?
       
I want to get far enough into the game to experiment with the storied spell system, but navigation and combat are so joyless that it's tough to force myself to play for more than a quarter hour at a time. I don't have a lot of faith that more complex spells will change much, but I'll let you know.

Time so far: 6 hours


29 comments:

  1. Always thought the graphics-particularly the colours-were beautiful on this weird little game. Shame it's not shaping up to be anything special.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While it is hampered by a poor combat system (even though the usage of the ENTER key helps, unsure if Chet is using it enough), it still has the best magical system on a RPG and the best puzzles on a 3rd person RPG.

      Delete
  2. >> "Developer Anthony Taglione doesn't really have a gift for fantasy names."

    What DOES make a good fantasy/sci-fi/whatever name, Chet? I'm curious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naming your dwarves Bifur, Bombur, Fili, Kili... naturally ;)

      Delete
    2. I suppose I haven't really thought about the science of it. But first, you probably want to establish some general rules for the language--what kinds of vowel and consonant sounds it favors, for instance. Second, you don't want the names to sound too much like English words uncomfortably smashed together, particularly if they sound like something third-graders would toss at each other in a playground argument. But if you think that "Zendick" is an awesome name for a game's villain, there's no reason we can't just amicably agree to disagree.

      Delete
    3. Zendick was probably appropriate for Knights of Xentar :D

      Delete
    4. Zendick, of course, is what the Buddhist gigolo seeks to achieve.

      Delete
  3. Maybe that puzzle is a copy protection.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My 16 year old self figured out that puzzle and thought it ingenious.

    I'm not sure how it's possible not to love the geometric puzzles on this game almost as much as the magical system

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How? How would you possibly piece together that sequence of events?

      That's what I don't get about these head-scratcher puzzles. Who was the first person to get it and write it down where it would be disseminated?

      If a single one of the 12 steps is done wrongly, the entire puzzle can't be solved. How did anyone ever figure that out?

      Delete
    2. The puzzle is actually quite logical. One lever rotates the columns, and the rest is shooting the right spell at the only slot you can shoot a spell to. The only "difficulty" is figuring out which spell to shoot.
      With two contiguous DAMAGE runes on the floor, casting a DAMAGE DAMAGE spell was kinda simple to figure out.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, I didn't meant to suggest it isn't solvable at all. But I think the "quite logical" consequences that Pedro mentions are only obvious in hindsight. Among other things, the damage spells ALSO rotate the pillars and it's not clear to me why "Missile Damage Damage" doesn't cast a double-strenth damage spell instead of two missiles. Shouldn't it be "Missile Damage Missile Damage"?

      Delete
    4. Oh, and also, while it's clear that the ultimate goal is to direct damage spells to the floor runes, doing that cause somewhat unpredictable things to happen to the tiles on the water. Sometimes they appear, sometimes they disappear. So you still have to hit the floor runes in a particular sequence that's tough to figure out.

      Delete
    5. I confess I actually thought it was missile-forward-damage until I re-read the manual :)

      Delete
    6. I don't mean the idea that you're supposed to shoot damage spells. I mean the baffling sequence that must be done exactly correctly.

      Single spell, lever. Double, single, lever. Single, lever. Double, single, lever.

      How would anyone ever figure that out except by tedious trial and error? What if you started with a double spell? You'd never solve the puzzle, ever. It's a long sequence and any wrong step along the way will make it unsolvable.

      Delete
    7. It's not trial and error. Each pull of the lever rotates the columns 90 degrees, so each time you cast a spell, you must rotate them elsewhere so that the spell is shot to the next target.

      It's probably easier to watch than what I mean. It's really a simple puzzle:

      https://youtu.be/5b7LzSEF-xI?t=2m42s

      Delete
    8. After watching that video, I still can't figure out how it works. :)

      Delete
    9. Haha the guys on the video make things worse by removing one of the stones unnecessarily while solving the puzzle :D

      Delete
    10. Basically, each of the DAMAGE runes on the floor makes a tile on the floor show up. Players need to shoot all 3 to make all the 3 tiles show up so you can reach the exit.

      That is done by alternating the column orientation (with the lever) and shooting DAMAGE at each single DAMAGE rune or, DAMAGE DAMAGE if there are 2 DAMAGE runes.

      Delete
    11. Looking over that video, it seems to me that this is very much doable, but it's the kind of thing you expect in a puzzle game (e.g. Cadaver, or the Dr. Brain series) and not in an RPG.

      Delete
    12. Same Pedro. Of course back then there was very limited choice of what games to play so we brute forced puzzles as we loved gaming and had few options. Modern gamers ... short attention spans ... etc :)

      Delete
    13. I seem to remember it was the first tough puzzle but don't remember it slowing my progress too much. I think there was a tougher one in fagranc but I forget which level it is on. Since you visit other dungeons before finishing fagranc that doesn't mean it will definitely be that soon.
      And yes if you ignore all the red banners and never reinforce the towers, you will probably find many towns enemy occupied, so its best to keep on top of them. I think the red banners always have the same loot (for that banner) so if one army's loot doesn't interest you. you might have to try the next symbol for different shinies.

      Delete
  5. I like almost all the names you mock. They sound faux-Gaelic.

    ReplyDelete
  6. To be honest I can't remember the individual puzzles too well, but they all must have been solvable in those pre-internet days. I don't remember being horribly stuck on any. I'm guessing there are clues there somewhere.

    ReplyDelete
  7. With names like "Fagranc" and "Zendick", I guess we can count ourselves lucky that we haven't encountered any unintentionally offensive names like "Fagdick" yet :P

    ReplyDelete
  8. Quite agree, quite agree, too silly, far too silly...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I caught myself trying to read those names backwards repeatedly.
    Why?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because usually when you encounter a goofy name in an RPG, that's why.

      Delete
    2. EXACTLY! I do it automatically 90% of the time in all your posts.

      Delete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.