Measure Twice (Or Better, Trice) Before Cutting
HIGH Deep and satisfying turn-based tactical action.
LOW Some outdated graphics and unit models.
WTF There’s no way to select more than one unit at a time?!
A rare find on the PS4, Brigandine: Legend of Runersia is a high-quality, extremely deep and challenging turn-based strategy title.
In this 1P only affair, the player must choose a faction from the six nations residing on the continent of Runersia, five of which possess a “brigandine” — powerful pieces of armor left from a deity. Then, they must aim to establish dominion by conquering the campaign’s cities and bases. In order to do so, up to three squads of monsters led by powerful Rune Knights must be assembled and then tactically assigned. Important to note? If a Rune Knight falls in battle, all of the units under their command will be lost, regardless of their current hit points.
Gameplay consists of two equally-important parts — the organization and attack phases.
The organization phase plays out on a 2D overview of the continent, where an avalanche of information can be gathered. All of the player’s heroes and monsters can level up evolve into better versions of themselves. Rune Knights can even switch between classes to become fearsome combatants in any situation. All units can be equipped with up to four items which affect their fighting prowess, and different types of monsters have different affinities and weaknesses regarding the terrain they stand on, the type of damage they inflict or receive, the chance to score critical strikes, and so on.
As one can see, Brigandine is a game where comparing a barrage of numbers and stats is mandatory, and one of the first lessons it taught me (the hard way) is that all of the player’s decisions are weighty – especially the ones I that are not made! Since the player has full access to every bit of information, any wrong moves made are down to the human element. That said, Brigandine’s system of rules is not overly intuitive, and I urge all newcomers to spend some time with the tutorial — it actually does a decent job).
After orders are given in the organization phase, play switches to the attack phase where the turn-based battles take place on large 3D maps made of hexagonal tiles that represent different types of terrain. The combat has many intricate nuances and allows for interesting strategies — units have many abilities. However, since ranged attacks are limited to distance of usually only 2-3 tiles, it’s inevitable that the armies will soon cluster together.
Unfortunately, this leads to one of the minor gripes I have with Brigandine – at times, the visual noise present on screen can become overwhelming. Part of it is that units of the same type (whether friendly or enemy) are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Equipped items don’t change anything on the unit’s model either, so it can prove annoying to select the right centaur in a cluster of half a dozen lookalikes.
Another issue is the inability to select more than one unit at a time. I recognize that the movement and positioning is the lifeblood of this particular kind of strategic play, but some maps are so big that it takes two turns just to reach the enemy base. In such situations, it would be preferable to select and move everything at once.
Between all the fighting, Brigandine tries to give context for the war with a story narrated via drawn still images representing banter between characters. However, I found the plot to be perfunctory and not a highlight of the experience. I also found it odd that the character portraits for the Rune Knights often have nothing in common with their in-game models.
All in all, Brigandine: Legend of Runersia is definitely not a title for those looking to chill – it’s taxing and requires a player’s full attention at all times. On the other hand, those longing for a challenging, tactically-rich experience that will unapologetically punish mistakes will certainly find their niche filled here.
— Konstantin Koteski
Disclosures: This game is developed by Matrix Software and published by Happinet Corp. It is currently available on Switch and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 50 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes in this game.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco. The official description reads as follows: This is a turn-based strategy game in which players assume the role of one of six warring nations vying for power in a fantasy world. Players organize platoons of knights and monsters, move them around a grid-based battlefield, and select attack moves/tactics/skills from a menu. During battle phases, small figures are depicted attacking each other with magic, bites, and weapons (e.g., swords, axes). Cutscenes depict additional instances of violence: a still image of bound prisoners; a commander lying on the floor after being poisoned—both scenes depict small splashes of blood on the screen after characters are injured. Several female characters/monsters wear low-cut, skimpy outfits that reveal large amounts of breasts/cleavage. Characters are sometimes seen drinking alcohol and/or discussing drinking (e.g., “Sometimes you just want to drown that answer in alcohol”; “With that, Stella tossed back her last shot of rum…”). In one sequence, a character is depicted smoking a pipe.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles, which cannot be altered and/or resized. Sound is completely unimportant for playing this game, since it’s turn-based and every audio cue is only a result of a previously chosen action. As such, this game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. This game does not offer a controller map diagram, but the cursor is moved with the left stick, the camera is controlled with the right stick, actions are chosen with the “X” button and canceled with the “O” button, etc. The use for every button is always displayed at the corners of the screen.