Elven Legacy PC Review
Following Fantasy Wars of yesteryear, Elven Legacy puts players in the pointy-tipped boots of Elven armies in a vast fantasy world. Like many strategy titles, Elven Legacy relies on a turn-based game mechanic to allow players to strategize and plan their moves against their enemies. Unlike Empire: Total War, this strategy game is focused exclusively on operations in the battlefield. Such a narrowed focus allows the game to feel rather streamlined, and perhaps more accessible to less experienced players.
That’s not to say that Elven Legacy is free of resource management, however. As you guide your troops across a rich tapestry of gaudy geography, your main concerns will lie with the management of troops. Since they are expensive to replace, you will be encouraged to heal them whenever possible, although this also forces them to become immobile. You will have access to a number of unit types to plant across the hexagonal playing fields, from airborne dragons to long-range hunting squads. Considering how difficult the battles can become, the high price of failure motivates the player to carefully consider their choice of unit and movement in order to succeed. Even those accustomed to cerebral strategy games will find their sessions mired by failure. You will likely find yourself reloading a game after a battle doesn’t go in your favor, and this repetition dampens the fun of an otherwise interesting gameplay experience.
The campaign itself offers ample opportunity to lay waste to a variety of races, though the elves remain the only group available for personal use. Each race seems predictably stereotypical, from their artistic design to their general dispositions. The story begins nicely, but fails to resonate on a personal level. A bit more characterization may have bolstered the emotional significance of each battle; I felt no sorrow when the pompous elven hero was vanquished by dwarven armies, nor did I pity the belligerent humans when my forces decimated them.
To the game’s credit, there are some interesting choices to be made beyond mere battlefield tactics. Selecting one route to travel over another might allow my armies to spring an ambush on an unsuspecting foe, but the path might prove treacherous when compared to the conventional alternatives. Success in battle also yields a number of rewards, from the usual upgrading of combat units to the use of magical artifacts with beneficial effects. You can even unlock new missions, though this is a poor reward if you’re already growing weary of the game’s mechanics.
While the game does make good use of color and light in order to convey an otherworldly quality to the visuals, it isn’t exactly beautiful to look upon. Strategy games aren’t particularly famous for having detailed character models; after all, there are typically dozens of characters on screen at once, only visible from several hundred meters in the air. It is therefore bewildering that the developers of Elven Legacy have elected to bring the camera so close to the characters that all their major flaws become apparent. At this range, the textures and details make the game look fairly dated. Sound effects in Elven Legacy are not especially good, either. The music is modest even when it should be bombastic, and the voiceovers sound distorted in several areas.
Since this is a PC release, there is a good chance some problems will be remedied, though the game could probably do with a more long-term overhaul. Elven Legacy is mercifully conservative in its design, though it does not seem to be executed as smoothly as it should have been. With more time in development, future releases for the series should turn out to be more entertaining.