The choice of console is an important one for any game, some stuff just does not work on certain platforms regardless of its overall quality. System Prisma’s premiere series Cladun is one that most certainly suffers from that problem as its dense gameplay systems were a bit much for a handheld like the PSP even if it’s short levels were a good fit. That in mind they have created another game in the same mold as Cladun but this time for the PS3. It’s certainly an admirable attempt to create a proper fit for their kind of gameplay but it still doesn’t feel quite right. Why don’t we talk about why that’s the case in this review.
So to start off let’s talk about the gameplay, I’ve already said that it’s in the same mold as the Cladun series but chances are most of you haven’t played those games so a refresher wouldn’t hurt. In the barest of terms the game is a dungeon crawler, you’ll wander around mazes decked out in a variety of tile sets while collecting gear and slaying monsters. On top of this tried and true formula though are so many systems you’d think the dungeon crawling part was just a mini-game. There are health bars within health bars, elaborate equipment and class systems that contain stats and titles within stats and titles, and an asset editing system so in-depth the game suggests you export the files to a PC so you can edit things there. There is so much min-maxing and number watching that you could sell a graphing calculator as peripheral for the game. That’s not to say any of these systems are bad they’re just dense as all hell and with so many of them to focus on it’s easy to lose track and become overwhelmed. Certain gamers will love that aspect of the game, with so much to do and so much to work with it very much becomes your experience but quantity does not equal quality and for most people it will all be too much for them to want to deal with.
The biggest change here from the Cladun games is that of a new art style, a switch from retro 8-bit sprites to a smooth HD anime look. A bump in the resolution means they’ve gone full-bore with the anime treatment, all the in-game sprites are nicely rounded and sharp and there’s animated character portraits to go along with the story bits. Of course when I say animated I mean in that same creepy way other NIS games have done character portraits, little to no actual meaningful movement but a lot of uncomfortable idle animations that involve boob jiggling. Put simply I’m not sure making some cartoon breasts tumble about is the best use of the PS3′s power. The actual designs are fine I guess, my anime experience doesn’t go much farther than Fist of North Star and Akira so y’know I’m not really fit to judge it beyond saying that it wasn’t to my tastes. The only thing that really stood out to me about the sound design is the lack of English voice acting in the cutscenes both for better and for worse. I’m no more a fan than anyone else of the terrible English dubbing you typically see in games like this but not having it as an option does feel a little weird and it for some reason gives me less of an incentive to follow the story. That said if you’re the kind of person who’s interested in this game in the first place then the Japanese V.O. is probably what you want anyways.
A huge plus this game has over the Cladun series is that it has an actual story compared to Cladun’s ever so thin veneer of premise for its dungeon crawling. The idea here is that technology has gotten out of control and caused some sort of apocalypse to happen, a number of years later technology has fallen into myth and is now regarded as magic. You take on the role of Alto, a young adventurer to seeking to save his sister from a curse with which she was turned into a magic crystal. His search leads him to a forbidden facility (which naturally takes the form of an infinite amount of randomly generated dungeons) which holds an ancient weapon that will save his sister. From there you meet some interesting characters, explore the universe’s curious use of bean sprout based technologies, and delve into the rights and humanity of robots. The story does tend to go a little too far into the anime version of pathos (i.e. relationships full of more high school drama than a show on the Disney channel) but it’s serviceable and will keep you going until the density of the gameplay becomes too much to bear.
I think the PS3 is an interesting place to play this type of game but it still doesn’t feel like it’s quite the right fit. I think the best place for it would be the PC, the editing tools could be put to better use there and the ability to have it going on a second monitor while you’re doing something else would work well with the game’s pace. This is why it’s a good thing that one of the Cladun games actually just came out on Steam so that idea has already been realized just not with this particular title. Back to the matter at hand, Legasista is a fine game in the same mold as Cladun but it’s certainly not a better game overall. It’s just more of the same with a new coat of paint and a few dozen more mechanics layered over top. If you weren’t a fan of the Cladun games then stay away, otherwise grab the demo if there is one and if not the Steam version of Cladun X2 does have one so you can play it and get a general sense of whether or not this game is for you. So for more romping randomly through dungeons and feeling like the numbers are more my enemy then the actual monsters, Legasista gets a 3 out of 5 stars. Legasista is a fine whatever it is but I have no clue who it’s for.