Yet another retro styled JRPG comes limping into view from the fine folks over at KEMCO, and this time it’s Liege Dragon. So, lets’ go and see what we need to save the whole world from this time, shall we?
Long ago, Abigore the Evil Dragon terrorised the world and brought it to the brink of destruction. He was finally defeated by a coalition of three human heroes and Oberon, the Holy Dragon, as his power was sealed away for all time. At least, that’s what the victorious team thought. Well, after the battle, the three heroes each made themselves a kingdom, known as Blaze, Ibriss and Zolgeid, and peace and prosperity reigned supreme. Of course, humans being humans, soon they began to plot against each other, and now Abigore has been released. Our hero is a man with no memory, which I honestly can’t remember ever being used as a plot device in a JRPG before, can you? Anyway, Rugal, as he is named by the man who finds him, must team up with an unlikely bunch of comrades and bring an end to the threat of the Evil Dragon.
So far, so overblown fantasy storyline. What this translates into is a standard kind of RPG romp, with a series of dungeons linked only by a menu screen. That’s right, in Liege Dragon there is no world map, no wandering around discovering locations; the game will tell you where you can go and when you can go there, and that’s pretty much that. As you clear dungeons and move the story on, more locations become available, including towns where you can rest and buy new gear for the team. Also in these towns are side quests; clearing these can give you extra items that can help make the bosses of the dungeons easier. It’s well worth seeking these people out.
The gameplay on offer here is pretty standard JRPG fare as well, although there are a couple of neat mechanics that come into play. The first of these is the Monplete section, and while I’m not sure what a Monplete is, the section of the menu acts as a record of enemies you have defeated. You have to find out the details of new enemies first, either by using an item or a spell and once you have done this Liege Dragon starts to record how many of each monster you have killed. Each time you reach a milestone in monster slayage, the game will reward you with an item, and as some monsters have multiple items to give up, it’s worth doing a little light grinding to make sure you get all the items. As an example, in the first serious dungeon, the boss has a tidal wave move that pretty much wipes out the team, but by killing 15 of the Regret monsters (great name, I know), you are gifted a magic boat that negates this attack, and the whole fight becomes much simpler. Every boss I’ve fought has had a weakness, and so exploring and doing missions, as well as killing anything that moves is recommended.
The other mechanic that keeps things interesting is the way the characters learn magic. As you fight you are awarded stones, either Fire, Water, Earth or Wind. You can spend these stones to teach your team the relevant magic, so water magic is where you’ll find healing spells, for instance, and fire magic causes fire damage, and so on. Do you teach everyone low power spells, or save the stones to make one team member much more powerful? Do you spread the magic around or have each guy specialise in one type? These and more choices await you.
Combat is also pretty interesting, as it switches Liege Dragon into an FPS style view as combat begins. Each monster, apart from bosses, appears as a gang, and as damage is done, members of the gang fall until all members are defeated. This actually works pretty well, and there are some tense battles as you fight to discover the weak spots of your foes and take advantage. Once the weakness is pinpointed, the battle then devolves into managing health and magic points, but it still remains a fun diversion. Although diversion may be the wrong word, as fights seem to happen almost every two yards.
The list of major drawbacks for Liege Dragon is pretty small, yet as is usual for a KEMCO game it’s harder than you’d think to walk through narrow doorways, getting hung on corners is a real danger, and the difficulty spikes at the end of each dungeon are steeper than usual. Other than that though, we’re pretty much business as usual.
To conclude, the story of Liege Dragon is pretty good although not particularly original. However the graphics are nice enough and the whole thing chatters along at a fair old pace due to the lack of a world map. It’s very much just “some JRPG”, but the story may hook you enough to see out the ending. With different endings depending on how the other characters see you, there’s even a smidge of replayability built in. All in all, Liege Dragon may not be up there with the best KEMCO titles on Xbox One, but it’s not too bad.