Legasista: Old-school dungeon-crawling, NIS style

August 29, 2012

Like lots of other people, my love for top-down dungeon crawlers started with The Legend of Zelda on the NES. Zelda has moved on, though, and while I enjoy Link’s 3D adventures, the top-down perspective continues to hold a special place for me. Games like The Binding of Isaac and NIS America’s own ClaDun may not be exactly the same (which is good – who in their right mind wants to pay to play the same game over and over again), but they scratch the same itch, and games like Legasista improve on the formula by introducing RPG elements, randomly-generated dungeons and more loot than you’ll know what to do with.

You play as Alto, who is on a quest to save his younger sister from a curse. Alto makes his way to the Ivory Tower to obtain a relic that is able to do just that. On the way, he meets a couple of old androids who serve as guides. With that setup out of the way, the real game starts. Similar to NIS’ Disgaea series, there is a story and a campaign to go through (although the campaign here is also randomly-generated) to complete, but the replay and where you’ll spend most of your time come in the ability to enter into a random endless dungeon.

There are exits every few floors, but the farther you go the better loot you can find, and the better loot you have, the easier time you’ll have taking out the bosses encountered in the latter parts of the game. The types of items you’ll be picking up include new weapons, armor, magic spells, and stat-boosting trinkets. Equipping a piece of armor doesn’t just add to your pool of HP though.

Each piece of equipment that you equip has its own pool of HP. When its HP runs out you can’t use it anymore until you return to the hub world, and when all of your equipment is broken you’ll start losing your true HP. Deplete that and you’re automatically taken back to the hub world and everything you picked up is taken away. Lose it all in a level, and you really do lose it all. It makes for an interesting game of risk-versus-reward.

So there’s plenty to do. Legasista is also gorgeous to look at. Moving the top-down dungeon crawler to the PS3 means that the graphics have a wonderful hand-drawn look that just wasn’t possible when you were playing and loving A Link to the Past. The combat effects look great as well. The only real negative to be found in Legasista is that the only voice option is Japanese. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me (and likely a cost-cutting measure that kept it from retail), but if you don’t like to read dialogue, then you’ll want to steer clear of Legasista. For everybody else who enjoys a dungeon crawler that you can play for 20 minutes of three hours at a time Legasista is a great value.

Pros: Huge replay from randomly-generated dungeons, beautiful graphics, interesting equipment system
Cons: No English voice acting, difficulty can swing wildly doe to the game’s random nature

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.