Every so often, it must be nice for a developer to mix things up, I imagine. Just like for the rest of us lesser mortals, variety is the spice of life, and so it appears that KEMCO have decided to branch out a little. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they haven’t suddenly made an Anti-Grav racer or a battle royale, but their new title, Legend of Ixtona, is a bit of a break from the norm. So, come with me to a slightly different, retro styled RPG experience…
The story of a KEMCO game is always a highlight, and so it is here. Ixtona is a kingdom on the brink of peace, on the verge of finally settling their differences with the surrounding countries. This is entirely down to the efforts of the wise old king, and it is this desire to make peace that is to lead to his downfall. The king is murdered by his own son, Erbax, who decides to take the crown and bring peace to the world his way, by a rule of tyranny. The king’s other son, Kyle, sees what Erbax has done, and before he can bring the truth into the open, he is sent away to manage a village in the wilderness, an exile in all but name. We have to join Kyle as he attempts to make the village a thriving community, and then to ultimately see about bringing justice to Erbax. The scene is set for an epic showdown!
The graphics on display here are very KEMCO in style, being retro, sprite based, and very well designed, as always. It’s good to know that some things don’t change, after all. Sound is limited to the usual kind of battle noises, swooshes of spells and clangs of weapons, and while there is a good deal of exposition that goes on, it is done via the medium of text, with the usual kind of static picture of the speaker being put next to what they are saying. All in all, the presentation of the story and the characters is pretty much business as usual.
The actual gameplay loop is where the game starts to open up some differences from the usual kind of KEMCO game. Legend of Ixtona is split roughly into two halves, with a battle phase and a “everything else” phase.
The battle phase is interesting, as this is an attempt to make a tactics kind of game from the outset, with a real Fire Emblem/Final Fantasy Tactics kind of vibe going on. The battlefield is viewed from an isometric, 3D kind of viewpoint, and the battlefield itself is made up of a number of squares. Each character that you have on your team has the ability to move a certain number of squares, and can then perform an action. These can be attacks, special skills, which range from attacks, through magic, both offensive and defensive, through to abilities that can buff the team, and finally items can be purchased and equipped to each character, which can then be used.
The actual gameplay in the battle screen is very involving, requiring a good amount of thought to come out with the best result. For instance, in one battle, we had to take down two enemy commanders, and they kept close together, so I surrounded them with my best melee troops. Turns out this was a mistake, as after a few turns, they charged up an AoE attack that took out three guys in one go, requiring a restart of the battle. Little tricks like this are never very far away.
The other half of the game is spent managing the village, with various things to try. You can buy things from the shop, and also invest money in development of new items that cannot otherwise be acquired. In addition, if you have some spare soldiers, they can be sent off to acquire new materials for your town, which again feeds into the development mechanic. New soldiers can be hired at the guild, and as they join the team and start fighting for Kyle, they level up until they can hold their own, should they be sent off to the front or to look for stuff. As the village expands and grows, so does the amount of help that Kyle gets; there are a number of good things that can be acquired if you are willing to invest the money.
There are a few niggles with Legend of Ixtona though, largely in the battle screen. The game is very poorly optimised for a controller, and if you try to move a character using the left stick, you’ll find yourself swinging the cursor wildly all over the screen. It’s best to forget it and use the D-pad, or even better, the GameSir VX2 Aimbox as this is a game that works very well with a keyboard and mouse. Other than that, the only real grumble is the lack of any kind of real explanation about the aim of a battle: in one, I had to go and rescue someone called Xenoseed, and the enemies managed to kill him, which gave me an instant Game Over. There was no warning that this would be the case, however…
All in all, Legend of Ixtona works pretty well. The usual KEMCO control issues are here and the explanation of what to do is somewhat lacking, but despite this it is a fun game to play. If you have missed that old skool tactics experience, this is the game for you. If not, well it’s a fun game with a decent story.
Legend of Ixtona is available from the Xbox Store