JRPG tributes by western developers have become a dime a dozen in the contemporary indie scene. While most tend to be average at best, there are a few quality exceptions that pop up once in a while. Legena: Union Tides comes from Grandpa Pixel, an independent game developer based in the United Kingdom. The game originally began life as a canvas for the developers to learn video game programming and coding, but eventually that little demo took on a life of its own. Legena: Union Tides is not only their first big project, but the first installment in a planned trilogy.
The game’s story revolves around an entity simply referred to as The Narrator. This enigmatic being is a myth, a legend, and yet very real, and his role in the Legena universe is one of its mysteries. From what I could gather he comes bearing ill portents, if he’s not just a straight up harbinger of the apocalypse. On the other hand you have Scholar, a blindfolded man who is being hunted by The Narrator. The game starts with a glimpse of what appears to be the ending but then it takes you back to where it all started.
The world of Legena feels fully realized, but doesn’t saddle you with exposition. Lore and back story are referenced as though the characters assume you know what they’re talking about.. Such an approach to RPG storytelling is distressingly uncommon. As the plot progresses you’ll make dialogue choices that affect not just the outcome of the plot, but the stats of your characters and their battle performance. The choices aren’t mired in black and white, right vs wrong thinking, and instead reflect acceptable alternatives to a situation. It’s a nice idea which has potential to really add substance to character development.
The battle system is classic turn-based fare with some neat touches.The dynamic turn cycle system resembles Final Fantasy X, where the order of turns is made apparent. You can take your sweet time clicking through menus during your turn, but the overall pace is fairly quick which makes things fun. A unique touch is the weather system, which allows you to alter weather conditions during battle to turn the tide to your favor. Changing the weather enhances the effectiveness of certain spells while also further exploiting the weaknesses of enemies. Outside battle you can sneak around enemies – no random encounters here – but there are environmental hazards that can harm you and puzzles that need solving, too.
The 16 bit Genesis-style visuals have their charm and they do the job in differentiating the characters and locations. What really shines about the ambiance of the game is its soundtrack. Composed by SkittleGirl Sound, there are some really catchy tunes here, which stood out to me as soon as the demo started. The main town theme in particular is excellent
It’s a bit early to make a call on this brief demo, but it left me wanting more, so that’s a good sign. You can visit the official Kickstarter page for Legena: Union Tides to lend your support and get updates on the game’s progress. The good news is that regardless of how the fundraiser turns out, the developers are committed to completing this project.
Legena: Union Tides’ charming visuals, catchy soundtrack, classic battle system and fully realized world leaves you wanting more. The game is set to launch sometime in 2015 for the PC, Android, and Ouya, and a Vita release is a distinct possibility. In the meantime you can look at the official website for the game and visit its developer, Grandpa Pixel. It’s also worth checking out the composer, SkittleGirl Sound, to sample some of their fine music.