A Dead Series Returns From The Grave
HIGH Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.
LOW The number of attributes and data for each character makes menus difficult to navigate.
WTF How is there a nation made up solely of pirates?
Throughout the history of videogames, many loved series have bit the dust and left fans waiting for a sequel that never came. The Brigandine series seemed to have fallen to the same fate until publisher Happinet reopened its games division in 2013, allowing producer Kazuhiro Igarashi to start new work on a title. Lacking the original team, they rejected the idea of doing a remake and instead opted to create a sequel.
Brigandine: LoR follows its predecessors as an isometric, hex-based, turn-based high fantasy strategy experience taking place on the continent of Runersia, a land reminiscent of real-world Eurasia, with several powerful nations on the brink of war due to rising political tensions. Players pick one of the six nations to control, each with their own histories, characters, and stories. Kenji Terada (scenario writer for the first three Final Fantasy games) crafted a tale that can only be fully revealed by players who explore all six campaigns, each offering disparate perspectives on the continental crisis.
For example, playing as the republic of Guimoule shows a nation thrust into conflict by the actions of two others — sudden hostility from Mana Saleesia, and revolt by the Shinobi Tribe. Even though I usually feel that the story in strategy titles can interrupt the flow of gameplay, the political intrigue and unraveling of the world’s history kept me invested the entire time.
Gameplay is handled in regimented fashion to keep a steady flow. The campaign is divided into seasons, and each season has two phases — Organization, during which players can take stock of their armies, move troops, and perform various upkeeps, and Attack, which lets all nations schedule any offensive moves which then play out in order of the power level of each army.
Battles take place on maps with varied terrains and pathways that add plenty to consider when sending out up to three rune knights (essentially, troop leaders) at a time, each with their own squad of monsters. Players then engage in turn-based combat across the map, with the goals of either taking (or defending) a base, or simply eliminating all opposing rune knights.
Combat itself is fairly straightforward, but what adds variety are the options at the player’s disposal based on what abilities a particular rune knight has, what monsters are in their party, and the layout of terrain or troops on the field. All these factors make battles feel like an engaging chess match.
In terms of presentation, the beautiful artwork of Raita Kazama makes everything come to life. They were brought on by Igarashi as his first choice for art/character design as Kazama’s previous work on Disgaea and Xenoblade Chronicles impressed. Subsequently, they were given a lot of freedom in designing the gorgeous 2D artwork for the game, and that freedom has paid off richly.
Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia delivers an entertaining world and a story full of diverse and vibrant characters, all built atop competent world-conquering strategy. The complexity may make it a bit less approachable to genre newcomers, but strategy buffs and longtime Brigandine fans need look no further.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Matrix Software and published by Happinet. This game is available on PC, PS4, and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 8 hours of play was devoted to the single-player modes. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is T for Teen due to Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco. 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 las 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. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are remappable on PC.