Turn-based strategy RPGs often make for super-rewarding gaming experiences so let's see how legendary the dreary Black Legend is.
Black Legend tells the story of a medieval city that was taken over by an alchemist named Mephisto and the enemies that you'll fight compose his army of devoted cult members as well as their pet dogs. The resulting atmosphere is dark, eerie, and quite similar to Bloodborne although without the mind-blowing supernatural monsters. The campaign basically has you explore a handful of areas within the city and doing so involves navigating past enemy guards whether you decide to fight them or sneak by. Speaking of which, the stealth element is very basic but is still kind of tense, especially if you want to avoid battle. You'll also frequently open plenty of doors that act as shortcuts and although there's no map, there are plenty of signs that help you figure out where you are and where your objective is. Even though it's less convenient, I appreciated this implementation and felt that it added to the sense of mystery.
The combat itself is unlike anything I've ever seen in the genre and I've played dozens of SRPGs in my life. You don't simply equip the best gear then hack away at enemies until their HP depletes. Instead, you have to use alchemy by unleashing elemental skills and attack items which mark enemies with black, white, yellow, and red humours. Certain combinations of these humours create catalysts then, you can unleash a catalyzing attack to trigger the catalysts which may cause devastating damage. This ties directly into setting your party up as you'll want to have a variety of compatible elements so optimizing your array of skills by tinkering with the wide variety of character classes and weapons can take a decent chunk of time but once you get a fine-tuned setup, it's a supremely rewarding moment. Throw in a variety of trinkets that boost catalyst damage and nifty items and you're left with a winning formula.
One of the most notable moments within Black Legend's campaign comes in the form of the boss fights which can be downright brutal to take down. In fact, you'll probably require multiple attempts as you become familiar with their capabilities and attacks. Finally, once you calculate a winning strategy or manage to barely scrape by, it's a fantastic feeling to emerge victorious at long last.
With all of that being said, Black Legend unfortunately begins to fall apart at the seams when you factor in its downright drab game world. No matter which area of the city you're in, it all looks the same and it's not as large of a city as you'd expect either. Considering all you do is fight battles and run around this city, it's pretty disappointing how half of the equation is as dull as it is. Another aspect that adds to the tedium is that you'll frequently get into battle when you really don't want to whether you're on your way back to the hub area or re-traversing an easy area to complete a side-quest. Even the easiest battles take a substantial amount of time to complete so it occasionally ends up feeling like a chore. On the plus side, you might discover some handy treasures along the way.
Finally, let's discuss Black Legend's technical issues which are plentiful and make the overall experience unacceptably clunky. For starters, the audio is very uneven. I found myself turning the volume up to hear some lines of dialogue then quickly tapping the mute button as a ridiculously loud conversation soon commenced. However, the graphics are where things really become head-scratching. Not only is there severe texture pop-in and regular visual stutters, you'll also see your characters' weapons turn invisible, shadows flickering, and to make matters worse; there are lengthy load times whenever you move between areas which makes little sense considering how similar everything looks. I honestly don't understand how it's 2021 and we still have games that are this technically buggy.
Black Legend features some outstanding gameplay elements that can make its battles extremely rewarding. On the other hand, its underwhelming and monotonous game world combines with oodles of technical issues to hold it back from greatness.
- + Truly awesome alchemy mechanics that make setting up your party a rewarding task
- + Nifty stealth and exploration elements
- + Boss fights are rewarding challenges
- - Game world is small, drab, repetitive, unvaried, and often tedious to traverse
- - Loads of audio and graphical issues
- - Combat can often be a nuisance