Ever played a “survival action/RPG” with a distinct Japanese flair combined with the dungeon crawling of classic Zelda? No? Then you should probably check out the latest from NIS America, Legasista, which is slated to release in just a few weeks time on the PSN. Taking place in the future where all technological achievements have been lost to time and anything science-related is treated with suspicion and awe, the world is fantastical and involving. Perhaps the most apt comparison would be to the ClaDun franchise.
But the developers are taking the aforementioned formula to a whole new level, as they’ve created “thousands of attack combos” and will allow players to fully customize your weapons and character skills. As for the story, you will play as Alto, whose sister has been petrified by a curse. Alto heads to the mysterious Tower of Ivy, which is the only remnant of a distant past where technology once held sway; it’s Alto’s belief that a cure can be found inside. Little does he know what he’ll find buried in that ancient structure…yep, enemies and traps!
One of the coolest parts of the gameplay is the ability to both follow the linear adventure and do some fruitful exploring. The dungeons in the Tower of Ivy are randomly generated as well, so each trip will be a little different. In fact, bizarre bean sprout NPCs will lead you to optional areas where the challenge is tougher, but as a result, the rewards are greater. And as you can see in the gameplay video, this is a fully robust, in-depth role-playing experience, with all the requisite character stats, abilities, and specialties. It also has that patented Japanese flair, which some of the veteran JRPG aficionados really appreciate.
And beyond the standard leveling up, upgrading, and learning new skills, there’s the expanded poison mechanic that seems interesting. Poison is nothing new in RPGs, but this is a tad different— There are various classes of poison and while most by themselves will cause a problem (sleep, paralysis, HP drain, etc.), the right combination of poisons can actually help. For instance, one combination will cause you to hallucinate, but it must be a good kind of hallucinating, because you’ll be able to see other traps and hidden objects when in that altered state.
Lastly, speaking of character customization, you can create some of your own art designs entirely from scratch. Developer System Prism is tossing in a painting program that will let you get all creative; when done, the game will add animation to your invention. Or, you can import images from the PS3’s hard drive and the game will change the pictures into characters. Further editing is also allowed. So this should be catnip to hardcore RPG fans who miss the old days when dungeon crawlers were common. And remember, Legasista has, in many ways, gone above and beyond.
Give it a try when it hits the Network on August 21.
7/26/2012 Ben Dutka