I’m a big fan of Action RPGs (I love grinding stats, dungeon crawling and looting!) so when I saw Gameloft’s “Legends Of Exidia” on Nintendo’s DSi Ware store describing itself as a “true action RPG” with “tons of weapons and armours that change your appearance and abilities”, I decided to give it a try – despite the rather high £7.20 price tag compared to the store’s other downloadable titles.
Unfortunately I was rather disappointed by my first impression. Having played many games on the Game Boy Colour, Advance and DS over the years, I was expecting quite a high standard from a premium title at this stage in the Game Boy’s life but after you get past the JRPG Anime styled graphics on the menu screens, the game starts with graphics and animation that look like they were copied over from the GBC. Sadly, not what I was expecting and far below what I had hoped for.
However, seeing as I’d just blown £7 on it and I was using my DSi quite a lot at the time during long journeys, I thought I’d stick with it until I got my money’s worth…and I’m pleasantly surprised I did!
Once given the chance, Legends Of Exidia actually delivers much of what you would expect from any RPG: detailed story, side quests, treasure, weapons and armour upgrades, magic, and much to my relief, real time combat rather than turn based or party led battles!
Despite the graphics and animation being rather basic, they appeal to anybody who fondly remembers playing fantasy RPGs on the Master System or Mega Drive, and it didn’t take very long before I was enjoying playing Legends enough that I forgot I ever had a problem with them in the first place. The graphics are colourful and despite missing some frames of animation that would have prevented your character from looking a little odd while running in certain directions (you’ll see what I mean), they do a good job of immersing you into the world you inhabit, with in game conversations between characters depicted by still frame portraits appearing on screen with text speech bubbles, as seen in countless JRPGs.
One thing I like most in any type of RPG is the customisation of your character using different armour and weapon types, Legends does boast this feature but the changes that appear on your character are quite often very subtle and sometimes amount to nothing more than a colour change on a certain piece of clothing. I can perhaps be generous in this respect though and suggest this is because of the size of your on screen character and the chunky retro style graphics being unsuitable for much variety – although there is still more visible difference here than in the full retail release Dungeon Seige 3, for example, where upgraded armour rarely changes appearance at all!
However, fortunately I found the story engaging enough to keep encouraging me to continue and as with most good games of this type, after upgrading your weapons and move set, just the fighting and looting itself is often satisfying and becomes it’s own reward, which is a good thing as some map areas are revisited and the limited variety of enemies can make the game seem repetitive.
After gaining a certain amount of XP, additional challenge quests are unlocked which can be accessed from the main menu screen and are best played as soon as possible between main story quests as some of the game’s best weapons are unlocked here for use in the main campaign, which if you don’t have can make fighting some of the tougher enemies more of a challenge than necessary – and is very frustrating when you only realise this toward the end of the game, believe me!
Despite heaping quite a bit of criticism onto it, I actually like Legends: I like that there are plenty of loot drops, I like that there are lots of armour types to mix and match, I like that enemies respawn so you can fight and grind as much or little as you like and I liked the story and quests. For it’s price, Legends presents a good quality, enjoyable fantasy action RPG over several hours of game time that can be conveniently downloaded and played anywhere on your DSi or 3DS but it’s lack of a dynamic save feature means you are forced to complete your current quest or return to the city to save your game, otherwise you will lose a lot of progress after switching off (like when my battery ran out) which is very annoying! Legends Of Exidia is far better than the sum of it’s parts and I can recommend you give it a go, especially now I’ve pre-warned you of it’s weaker elements to save you the initial “Is that it?” moment, because it’s actually fun to play – and isn’t that what’s important?