Turn-based strategy RPGs have been gathering a substantial following over the years. Therefore, you'd think that it would be an appropriate time to revive some classics but be careful what you wish for.
The Langrisser series hasn't seen much exposure in the west. We only received the original for Sega Genesis back in 1991 and it was even renamed Warsong when it came out. Meanwhile, Japan saw four sequels for various consoles and almost 18 years after the fifth game came out, we can finally play the second western release of the series. Upon starting it up and playing a few battles, you'll realise that it's quite a simple strategy RPG. Anyone who has even the slightest bit of experience with the genre will be able to master the basics in no time whatsoever. The entire adventure consists of playing through story battles one after the other with no ability to backtrack and grind. I've played a few SRPGs that are structured like this so it is acceptable albeit slightly annoying. In the end, this is an easy RPG to pick up and play once in a while to work through a battle or two.
Langrisser Re:Incarnation doesn't really look like much. The most notable disappointment when it comes to visuals is the character artwork. Some folks look decent while others are just plain ugly. The cast full of dudes with distorted faces, chesty women who I hope aren't supposed to be sexy, and weirdos who look like they're from another planet is definitely difficult to relate to. On top of this, the battles look like they're from a low budget original PlayStation game with disjointed sprites, hard to read numbers, and blurry textures. Whenever an attack is initiated, it cuts to a pointless video of the two involved parties casually confronting each other only to end in a special effect. Thankfully, you can turn these off so sitting through them is entirely optional. On the other end of the spectrum, the music is quite good. The epic orchestral pieces and rocking tunes will definitely get you battle-ready. At least it's not all bad.
The combat in Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei is probably its biggest downside. Each unit has 10 hit points. Depending on their abilities, class, and attributes, they can have advantages or disadvantages while facing certain enemies. For example, if a character tries to attack a much tougher foe then they may perish in the process while the enemy remains completely unscathed. Although this system sounds intriguing at first, it falls apart very quickly. This is due to the fact that as you progress, certain characters just won't level up enough to be able to even scratch most enemies while others will be way too overpowered that it makes every confrontation a joke. That being said, if you try to level up your party evenly then you'll probably find the battles to be much more challenging because you won't have any walking tanks that can annihilate everyone in sight. The end result of this system is that you'll be bored by mowing down enemies with no strategy at all and frustrated at the same time that some party members bite the dust faster than you can say "Langrisser".
One feature that I enjoyed is that you can use earned points to hire mercenaries. You receive these points at the end of each battle depending on how well you performed. You need to use them wisely while hiring allies because you can spend the rest to buy better equipment. I found this points system to be quite nifty as it forces you to be mindful and win battles efficiently. That leads me to my next point which is that the menus don't feature enough information or options. For example, when buying a new piece of equipment, you may realise that it's actually a waste after you spend your hard-earned points. Why can't I see if I'll actually benefit from buying it before I pay? Finally, there are very few menus in the heat of battle. Whereas most SRPGs allow you to save in mid-battle, you simply can't here. Considering this is a portable game and fights can last over half an hour, being unable to save is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei not only doesn't live up to similar games in the genre, it doesn't even compete with previous games in the series. Even though this isn't a worthy reboot, I think the developers could give strategy RPG fans the Langrisser sequel they deserve if only they go back to what made the series special in the first place.
- + Simple gameplay that's easy to learn
- + Hiring mercenaries while using points wisely is an enjoyable system
- + The soundtrack is pretty cool
- - Menus lack options and information
- - Combat is both boring and needlessly frustrating at the same time
- - Character artwork is mostly ugly