by Derk Bil
reviewed on PC
Welcome to Bella Lugacia, a fantasy kingdom that has seen its share of bad luck of late. Ever since Theoron the Witty – its rightful ruler – passed away, the kingdom has been torn apart by the royal twins fighting over the right of succession. Lorenzo and Florentia were born at the exact same moment, making it difficult to decide who should be Bella Lugacia’s next heir. A war was inevitable and whoever conquers the other will rule entire kingdom.
As children the twins would compete in absolutely everything. Now that they are young adults and the kingdom is at stake, their twisted little competitions have turned into urban medieval warfare. Things have escalated to the point that it is time to sink or swim. Brother and sister have gathered their armies in order to claim the throne in a battle to the death.
Not your grandfather’s chess
Legio can best be described as a chess-like strategy game with arcade elements. A game consists of two stages. The first phase takes place on a drawbridge between the two castles (yes, I am quite aware how silly this actually sounds). The second takes place in the castle’s hallways of whoever lost the first round. If you lost the first round, you can take comfort in the fact that you are the one picking the second battleground. If you won the first round, your edge will be that you get to keep whatever units survived and take them along to the second round. In addition, you get 25 points worth of fresh units for your invading force. So the bigger you win, the better your odds.
Yet losing the first round doesn’t automatically mean you will have to lose the second stage. You chose the battlefield, so you can also bring units that will be most effective in the setting that you picked. It’s all but unimaginable that you will be able to hold off the invaders despite their greater numbers. That said; winning the first round will always leave you in a position of comfort because of the larger number of pawns you bring to the battlefield.
Once your first battle is underway, you will have to get to grips with the targeting system. With each attack order, a bull’s eye will appear that varies in size depending on the distance to the intended target. Next, a cross-hair will bounce wildly across the screen, lighting up brightly whenever it’s in the ‘sweet spot’. Clicking at the right moment is the hardest and most vital part of mastering combat. It determines both whether you will actually hit as well as how much damage you will do.
You will have a variety of unit types at your disposal. Of some you can only bring one while others come in packs. Each unit comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Giants, for example, will move rather slowly but hit pretty hard. The drawback is that they are dumb brutes that will maul anything in sweeping range, including your own units. The sorcerer’s attack can do area damage as well and, unlike archers, doesn’t require a line of sight. WarRabbits are fast and can quickly cover large distances but with very little life points, they are easily killed. Each unit’s worth is measured in a certain amount of points. When selecting your army for an upcoming battle, you get to pick 25 points worth of units. With such a low amount of points to spend, bringing the right troops along is paramount.
The eye of the beholder
Aesthetically, the game is reminiscent of comic-book style drawings. Although not very refined, not even on the heaviest graphics settings, the design of the characters is rather comical in a rather grim “Alice in Wonderland” kind of way. They could have sprung from the imagination of Tim Burton but due to the low detail in the ‘toons’ and no voice acting beyond shrieking, grunting or mumbling incoherently, it is difficult to give the game that much credit. On the upside, the low graphics quality means that the game will run on even the lowliest gaming rigs out there.
It is a shame that there is no actual storyline integrated into the game. Sure, there’s a bit of background on the website and in the manual, but beyond the battleground supposedly representing a castle (or two) and the characters looking as if they jumped out of a medieval comic there’s just not enough to pull you in for longer sessions than a game or two at a time.
Play tough, or PlayDoh?
Legio is advertised as being easy to play but difficult to master. Personally I found it quite hard even on the easiest difficulty setting. Once I had the hang of the targeting system I was able to reliably deal damage with it and even win a match on occasion. Unfortunately, winning a game is where it ends and you just start playing a new game. There is no sense of progression, which means very little reason to go. Only the ability to compete online in a ladder-tournament gives some reason to continue playing but it remains to be seen how long that attraction will last.
Toony characters are fun to watch
Not enough depth to keep you playing for long.