While not great in any other sense of the word, 2020 has been a pretty good year for JRPG fans. From the Final Fantasy VII remake to Xenoblade Chronicles to Genshin Impact, there’s no shortage of visually pleasing, engaging, and exciting games to play in the genre. However, with all these amazing titles saturating the market, it makes the competition that much fiercer, making it even harder to get by with just an average game when people have come to expect a lot from the genre.
Naturally, this means there are some games that just don’t cut the butter. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia is definitely in this category.
Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia is a tactical, turn-based RPG that takes you on the journey to a kingdom trying to unite the other five nations under their flag. You choose one of the six kingdoms and command their army as they invade multiple fortresses and expand their nation. Each nation has their reasons for waging war, from being hungry for power to spreading their religion, and you are given a little blurb about each kingdom before you choose.
The gameplay is split into two phases: organization and attack. The two phases are equal to one season, and each run through consists of about sixty seasons. The organization phase is where you move troops around, summon monsters, and study and arrange units. You will spend a lot of time (and mana, the currency of the game) on this phase. In fact, sometimes you’ll lose out on a season because you’ve had to spend all your time moving troops instead of attacking. This isn’t necessarily bad, given that the game is heavy on strategy and troop placement is a huge part of that. It just gets tedious at times.
Summoning monsters is how you craft teams, and it’s also where the brokenness of the gameplay shines through. When a monster dies in battle, it’s gone forever, unlike your team leader, who is only down for roughly a round. This means that you’ll spend tons of mana on summoning monsters, especially after particularly tough battles. However, you can only summon monsters that are at the first level. You’ll have to spend time doing missions and training with them to have them ready to battle, which will put their unit out of commission for that attack phase. This will leave you open to attack from other bases, but without it, your monsters (and by default, your unit) will be obliterated in the attack phase.
The attack phase moves you to a hexagonal map where the combat happens. Each attack phase has twelve rounds, but if I’m honest, you really have about nine or ten. The two armies start so far apart that it takes two to three turns just to get close enough to attack. From there, the battles are pretty standard. The armies take turns attacking with weapons or magic until defeat or retreat. They honestly get a bit boring at first with the lack of variety you have, and they continue to be a bit bland later on with a lack of diversity in monster allies and attack variety.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this game is the pacing of it. It starts with a very neat intro scene, but that scene lasts for a good six to seven minutes. From there, you pick your kingdom and are launched directly into multiple cutscenes that last a good while. It takes thirty plus minutes to actually see any tactical RPG in this tactical RPG, which is rough.
Once you finally get to the first battle and finish it, you’re given yet another long cutscene explaining every kingdom that takes fifteen minutes. These scenes are present after many battles, and they are honestly overwhelming and hard to sit through. It feels like you’re getting less game play to make way for a barely connected, mediocre plot.
The game does have exceptional music, though, which helps make the never-ending cutscenes feel bearable, and adds a little bit of flair to the monotonous battles. The graphics during the cutscenes are also well done, though I wish the same could be said for the graphics during the attack phase. The voice-acting is pretty spot on, and is yet another small thing that makes the cutscenes a little less exhausting.
Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia has pacing that’s too overwhelming and gameplay that’s too underwhelming. This lack of balance makes it difficult to play and harder to enjoy, leaving you feeling bored and tired instead of excited and fulfilled. Even with a great soundtrack and voice-acting, the less than engaging plot and often tedious battles makes this an adventure that just isn’t as legendary as it wants to be.