|Dev: Nippon Ichi Software|
|Pub: NIS America|
|Release: August 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Becky Cunningham
Nippon Ichi subsidiary System Prisma isn't exactly a major player in the game development world. So far the company is best-known for creating the ClaDun series, which consists of two retro dungeon-crawlers on the PSP. Because of that, there's a certain amount of skepticism going around about the company's foray into PlayStation 3 development with Legasista. Like many NIS games, Legasista isn't exactly looking to push the console's technology to the max, but rather to expand the dungeon-crawling audience by moving from portables to a home console.
The setting for Legasista is a post-apocalyptic fantasy world in which science is now thought of as an ancient, evil form of magic. In this world stands an ancient Ivy Tower that holds scientific secrets, but nobody has entered it for a thousand years. Can anybody guess what the player is going to do in the game? That's right, the main character is a young man named Alto whose sister has been magically petrified. He's going to have to brave the structure to find a way save her.
Although it has a story path, Legasista's main focus is on dungeon crawling. Players will be exploring the Ivy Tower's dungeons from a three-quarters viewpoint, and the game includes both story dungeons and randomized dungeons that can be explored between storyline segments. Legasista has strong roots in the rogue-like genre, but it's not turn based, so it calls itself a "Survival Action RPG." There are certainly plenty of survival elements in the game, from weapons that will break after a certain amount of use to deadly traps scattered about to many kinds of poisons that must be tested, survived, and mastered.
Unlike most dungeon crawlers and rogue-likes, players will be able to recruit party members. Storyline-related companion characters include a witch, an ancient weapon in female form, a giant robot made from junk, a dragon-girl, and a thief with a heart of gold. Players can create their own team members as well. The player can switch between these teammates while exploring the dungeon, and having a diverse team will raise the player's chance of survival.
Legasista will also have a strong emphasis on customization. There are six classes for the player to choose between when creating characters, including the warrior, explorer, pyro, cyro, thief, and war mage, and it's possible to switch jobs to respond to the challenges found in a particular area. Player-created characters can be visually customized using the in-game customization system or by importing images into the game. There will be templates available to create characters from other Japanese game franchises such as Disgaea and Legend of Heroes. Weapons can be customized as well, with near-limitless possibilities.
There's also some trademark Japanese weirdness going on in Legasista. Two anthropomorphic bean sprouts appear to be the game's mascots/helpers, but eating bean sprouts is also a major source of HP replenishment in the dungeons. Sprouts can also be planted to create items or thrown at enemies. Who knew the lowly bean sprout was so useful?
Visually, Legasista is fairly simple, although the sprites are obviously high-definition. The dungeon tilesets are rather simple, although they do seem to have various themes such as "garden" and "under the sea." Story scenes are the kind of still conversations between anime characters that are commonly found in Japanese games, and the menus look fairly text-heavy. This is certainly not going to be a game for players who demand lush graphical splendor or a state-of-the-art interface, but at least it's looking crisp and detailed in terms of character, monster, and object art.
Can System Prisma pull of a compelling dungeon crawler in Legasista? There are several elements of the game that cause me some hesitation, such as the breakable equipment and the sparse-looking dungeon design. This may end up being a title that only appeals to hard-core dungeoneers, but it's nice to see a new downloadable dungeon-crawler for the PlayStation 3. If nothing else it could give Diablo III fans something to do while they're experiencing the dreaded Error 37.
Date: June 18, 2012