If you enjoy retro-style RPGs as much as I do then you may be interested in playing Liege Dragon so let's see how it holds up.
Liege Dragon tells the story of Yuran who has amnesia. Well, that was expected. Anyway, he awakens on a mountainside only to soon witness some terrible destruction as a village is terrorized and demolished. So, he sets out on a quest to hopefully end the destruction that the evil dragon Abigore has unleashed on the land. He soon discovers that he must acquire the 3 dragon tools in order to have a chance at toppling the dragon. Thankfully, he's joined by 3 helpful warriors in the form of the kind yet tough-exterior Rugal, the humble Silky, and the disguised noble Hilda. Meanwhile, Yuran is a somewhat generic protagonist yet he has a welcome sense of optimism in spite of the dire situation. Each character is very charming and the dialogue does a decent job of fleshing out their personalities.
With all of that being said, Liege Dragon has a ton of story. In fact, I'd wager that the campaign time is about equally spent reading dialogue as it is actually playing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but in Liege Dragon's case, it often is because the story tends to feel like it's filling a mold as opposed to forging its own identity. As I've said, the charming characters are great and they're the best part of the story but everything else is just generic and ultimately uninteresting. For starters, the story basically thrusts you into the chaos and destruction at the beginning thus giving you little reason to actually care about the cast or setting. Funnily enough, I had the same complaint about Final Fantasy XV. Well, let's take a look at the gameplay and see if that's at least redeeming.
Liege Dragon is basically a blend of reading story and traversing dungeons. There are also towns yet there isn't much to do in them besides buying the latest gear and solving quests for NPCs. Also, the world map is merely a menu which is disappointing. Anyway, the dungeons are fairly straightforward yet they feature occasional branching paths that may award you with treasures. That being said, I rarely found any of the treasures to be worthwhile as the shops back at town often stocked much more powerful gear. Speaking of which, you end up amassing a ton of money very quickly in Liege Dragon so you'll almost always be able to afford the latest equipment. On the opposite side of the equation, characters don't seem to have enough max MP. You'll even learn skills that cost more MP than your max so why can't you exchange gold for max MP? That would have definitely helped balance things out a great deal.
As you traverse the dungeons, you'll battle plenty of enemies. The battle system is simple and intuitive as you can perform basic attacks or unleash skills at the cost of MP. There's also a Unison system in place where you can unleash a powerful attack whenever a couple of characters' gauges are filled yet being able to do so doesn't come nearly as often as you'd expect. The battles play out a lot like the ones in the old Dragon Quest games yet in Liege Dragon, the enemies come in up to 3 hordes that you gradually thin out as their HP decreases. However, I'm pretty certain that this is merely cosmetic as it doesn't seem to weaken their stats as you wear down their numbers like it does in similar RPGs. On the plus side, the skill learning system that allows you to spend earned elemental stones to unlock whatever skills you want for each character is open-ended and allows for a surprising amount of customization.
The simple battle system and straightforward dungeons wore me out due to their tedious and repetitive nature. This is made worse when you consider the fact that you have to grind from time to time to overcome certain tough bosses and to fully heal, you have to exit the dungeon and rest at an inn back in town. That's an old-school aspect that I definitely don't miss in modern games. On a positive note, there are some nifty challenges that are rewarding to unlock such as awards and monpletes that grant you items for completing achievements and defeating certain numbers of each enemy, respectively. Upgrading equipment can be pretty satisfying, too.
Finally, I just wanted to mention that although I love Liege Dragon's character artwork, its visuals are kind of disappointing. Whereas similar games feature pixel-perfect graphics and striking features such as 3D battles, Liege Dragon mostly looks generic and bland. What makes the visuals even harder to appreciate is that enemy sprites are often blurry and the character artwork itself often comes across as if they're low-resolution images instead of sharp illustrations. I wish more work was done to make the graphics stand out.
Even though Liege Dragon isn't the best old-school RPG to be released in recent years, it still has its charms. The simplicity of it all can actually be kind of refreshing but it also makes tedium sink in much sooner than you'd hope.
- + Open-ended skill learning system allows for plenty of customization
- + Characters are rather charming
- + Challenges can be rewarding to complete
- - Simple battles and straightforward dungeons are more tedious than challenging
- - Too much uninteresting story and dialogue
- - Artwork and sprites are often blurry