Well, this review has been a long time coming, as it was last year that we ran a preview of the Dvide Arts title. The game has finally arrived and we have been furiously questing through it to give you our verdict on the eagerly anticipated RPG title.
Has it been worth the wait? The answer depends on your point of view. If you loved the previous game, Crusade of Destiny then you will find this to be a stellar experience, as it is essentially a fleshed out take on that game. If you are looking for a good looking, high quality grinding RPG then you will also like this. However, you may well want to steer clear if grinding the same few enemies for hours to increase your experience level sounds like your idea of hell, because you do a lot of grinding in this game.
There is the usual RPG back-story of a kingdom at war, and you have to choose and customise your character to join the fight. Once done, you enter the first village and the graphics will immediately strike you, as they are very impressive. Incredible detail is lavished on the town sections, with gorgeous textures and smooth gameplay married with some great effects, such as snow and rain which has to be one of the games highlights, even if it essentially an overlay.
You have some basic weapons and armour(more if you get the free gold for ‘liking’ the game on Facebook), and you set off into the wild. Only to be wiped out within seconds of meeting an enemy. All the creatures around the village have a higher level than you, apart from Young Wild Boars. Pick these out without alerting any bigger enemies and your grinding journey begins. Repeatedly killing enemies of the same type until you level up, then killing slightly more dangerous foes, and so on. This is the basic structure of the entire game, and it really is a chore, especially when the combat options are really not much better than they were in the first game.
You have attacks, earned by using skill points from levelling up and these range from a basic sword strike to bows and magic. The problem isn’t the magic or the bows, but rather the fact that you assign your sword strike to a button just as you do a magic spell and that’s it. No dodging, no different swipes or parrying. No rolling to avoid an attack or using different attack heights or anything. You simply keep pressing the attack button while the enemy does the same, with the victor purely decided by stats. You can equip a shield and try to block some attacks but this is clumsily implemented. I really wish the developer had tried a more complex combat system, as it really does feel that, while the graphics and presentation of the new game haved moved on several steps, the combat is still stuck on repeat.
You can use different attacks, but you literally have to change weapon to use each different attack option.
The spells and the bow still work the same as they did in Crusade of Destiny, so you tap an enemy to target and then the ranged weapon is charged and fired, at which point the enemy will charge in and its back to the slashing standoff.
I was really disappointed in the fact that there is no overworld, but just areas joined together. With these graphics, having a big map to explore and dungeons to plunder would have been excellent, but it was not to be.
When you die you are returned to the last place you decided to bind yourself to, with little health, mana and your hunger severly depleted. This can be extremely annoying, as there is no way to increase your health without using expensive potions, as all food does is reduce your hunger. The only way to realistically recharge your health is to wait several long minutes, which isn’t too bad when you respawn in a town but pointless when you reappear in an enemy infested area, and as the main reason you would bind in the wild is to attempt a boss battle the problem is baffling. Standing still for five minutes waiting for a little red bar to recharge is even worse than it sounds.
The hunger mechanic is such a bad idea that I am amazed it made it into the finished game.You have to constantly buy food to survive, making any long trips into the wild even more limiting.
Nevertheless, despite all of these big problems, I enjoyed my time with Earth and Legend. Once you are well equipped and know to plan ahead and stock up, the irritations are reduced somewhat, and there is a great addition in the form of a pet that will follow you around and help out when fighting. Exploring the world and meeting the admittedly limited characters is fun, and the graphics are beautiful enough to help you forgive some sins.
There is an excellent multiplayer co-op mode over Bluetooth, where you and a buddy can explore and fight together. This is great and one of the games saviours. You can go fishing to add some variety, and even explore underwater with a very good swimming mechanic.
The bosses are great, with some clever designs and fiendish attack patterns, and it is always nice to level up and beat previously invincible enemies. If the developer added a proper overworld and some decent combat options with enemies that did more than just charge at you, then this could have been something special. As it is, you have a standard RPG grinder hidden underneath some pretty graphics and great presentation.
Sometimes compelling and sometimes frustrating, Earth and Legend is a game that you will either love or hate.