It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a good W,A,S,D RPG – though Legend of Grimrock had some great moments, being completely confined to a dungeon feels claustrophobic. Thankfully Might & Magic X: Legacy brings us back to the good old days of open world exploration, with simple (but hard to master) mechanics that gamers have been looking for.
Legacy isn’t much for story, as the only real impetus you’re given for traveling across the entire peninsula of Ashan is to drop off your dead mentor’s ashes at a shrine, but that’s fine, because it is the combat and exploration that really shine.
Locked into a grid based system, the fun begins the moment you select a random or pre-generated party (or venture to build your own), and this more than anything affects the difficulty of the game. As you proceed through the adventure there is a good balance of leveling up and selecting new skills to learn (or old ones to improve upon), which gives your characters all the personality they’ll ever gain. Believe it or not, part of the fun of Legacy is exploring the blank canvas of your characters to see what works best and what doesn’t; I personally started out thinking one ranger was fine, but by level six every one of my party members was proficient with a bow or crossbow.
Another great element of Legacy are those hidden treasure caches and permanent stat increases you’ll find by drinking odd colored liquids out of a barrel – not only is this an RPG where loot is a driving force, but because the world is relatively open once leaving the first town, you’ll find difficulty spikes you’re driven to overcome. As it was with the classics, going too far in a certain direction is certain to bring about your demise – Legacy is a world where “Beware of Cyclopes” signs are best heeded. Leaving an area to fight weaker monsters, knowing there are places you’ll have to come back and explore later, really helps to get you involved in what’s going on, despite the sparse narrative.
Engaging with enemies in general can be a tough affair, even if you are prepared, and you’re going to have to do away with the mentality of saving your best spells for the biggest bosses if you want to survive – every encounter should be treated like a life or death scenario (as it quickly can be). Resting outside combat or finding healing fountains can bring the party back up to peak condition, but eventually you’ll have to go back to town to resupply, which puts some limits on the pace of the game. Fortunately it’s not too hard to predict when you’re about to get in over your head, but saving and reloading is still a great strategy for learning your boundaries.
If anything, the biggest drawbacks to Legacy are the relative ease with which you can hamstring yourself in selecting an imbalanced party, and the inconsistent quality of the experience where the bones of the framework sometimes become too apparent. For example, it’s hard to understand why this game is dependent upon a connection to UPlay, which itself can interfere with Steam opening and closing. Additionally, locations on the map may not display right, prominent locations and features (like an enterable, abandoned house) seem oddly purposeless, and overall there are few graphics options to tweak, meaning that the no-frills world doesn’t have a “more beautiful” button.
Legacy isn’t going to wear makeup or a collared shirt to try to impress you on the first date. It’s going to want you to be totally into it for its character, not its looks. And that’s great, if you’ve been reminiscing about the world of Xeen for the last ten years – Legacy does a great job of reigniting that old flame (where other games might just serve to remind you why we left these archaic mechanics behind). But if you never loved the original Might & Magic style turn/grid-based RPGs, Legacy isn’t a revolution. Personally though, that’s more than fine by me.
SCORE: 8.0 out of 10
A code for Might & Magic X: Legacy was provided to Pixel Related for review.