There is something heavily addictive about the match-3 puzzle system. While those games are more for the casual audience, developers can take the puzzle elements and meld a hardcore story and gameplay mechanic to help keep the game interesting. The developers of Legend of Fae have created an enjoyable RPG that functions solemnly on matching colored orbs. It might seem simple but requires fast reflexes to get through some of the tougher battles and easily hooks you throughout the game.
The story is about a young girl named Claudia whose uncle has mysteriously gone missing. She stumbles upon a note and a strange artifact that allows her to summon elementals to fight the Fae with; creatures that have been causing trouble. Now, before I continue, I will likely be bringing up the game Puzzle Quest a lot since it draws heavily from its gameplay, even the developers elude their game to Puzzle Quest which isn’t a bad thing at all.
I didn’t care for the story in Puzzle Quest nor the one told in Legend of Fae. The story isn’t what will draw gamers into these types of games anyway but it could have been better told. Claudia is a special breed of person where she can control elementals in battles against the Fae. She’s able to call the elementals using the artifact she stumbled upon which is what the majority of the game is about.
I’m not saying it’s a bad story it just wasn’t what kept myself motivated. I think it all comes down to Claudia herself not being that interesting. She’s a protagonist who is constantly questioning what to do because she hasn’t a clue what is going on around her yet still finds the courage to attack these crazy Fae creatures. You do meet up with a couple of interesting characters that help you in battle and flesh out what little story there is available but the clueless kid hero has been beaten to death already.
LoF is all about the rock-paper-scissor formula. You have four elements to use: wind, fire, water, and earth/grass. When you get into a fight, the Fae will attack you from either side which influences how you go about attacking. There is a surprisingly amount of ways the battle can play out, it all comes down to how you handle “gather mode.”
Gather mode is where you match your orbs. You have the four elemental orbs but movement and remedies are handled down here as well. The main concept that sets this game apart from others in this genre is the fact that it is not turn based. You are free to make as many moves as you want which allows you to move orbs into specific locations for big payoffs like matching five in a row instead of just three. Even movement is handled in gather mode, match the purple orbs and Claudia will walk or dodge depending on if you are in a battle or not. The only weird decision made with this is the fact that you can only move orbs in a horizontal position, not vertically; you quickly get used to this though.
When you match a certain color enough, you unleash its elemental which allows you to attack. Sometimes, multiple enemy types will be on the same side so attacking with your fire spell might hurt one but heal another. Some Fae fly which means they can dodge all your attacks until you hit them with a wind elemental which knocks them down. Fae might even poison Claudia, blind her, or set fire to her which affects the strategy used in gather mode. This is what kept the game interesting to play through inspiring me to try different strategies against enemies and boss battles. Once you unlock enough upgrades to your elements, you can begin mixing different elements together for more substantial damage.
The pacing of the difficulty was a little scattered throughout its entirety. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’ve played these types of games before but the first several hours felt like a breeze. I never once felt the need to look at my health bar because the matches never became difficult. LoF finally ramped up the difficulty to the point of me dying several times before utilizing its upgrade mechanic, then became easy again up until the later stages. You can upgrade your spells and even add upgrades to Claudia herself which helps in combat. It helps a lot when you upgrade your elementals to allow spending your elements on healing; you will want to do this as quickly as possible which helps when the game becomes difficult.
Stages are under a time limit although you are not constricted to the allotted time. If you are able to beat the level in the time it has set, you get extra bonuses. During levels, enemies will drop tome gems that unlock their bios in the magic gem book so you can read history on them. This is something completionists will want to replay levels for although I never felt compelled to replay a level once it was completed.
The game aesthetically reminds of old school adventure games. Animations are fine but minimal, like watching a flashier Pokémon battle. There aren’t many different enemy models but are colored certain ways. You normally roll your eyes in RPG games when the purple rat is now a red rat to signify a more powerful creature but in this universe it displays what element the Fae is to know what to attack it with. The battle music stays the same throughout which was fine but I turned it down after a while since it got a bit repetitive; you battle a lot in this game.
So does this all come together to be an enjoyable experience? I enjoyed the game and would like to see a sequel done with more improvements to the story and art design. Legend of Fae’s slow pace also dampens the experience a little but might be needed for new players in this genre. The great thing is the game has a long demo to try out before you buy. Anybody interested in Bejeweled or Puzzle Quest and is itching for more will want to check this out. I can’t say the gameplay will carry you until the very end, but it has enough interesting and varying mechanics that RPG fans will find exciting.
Title: Legend of Fae
Platform Reviewed: PC
Developer: Endless Fluff Games
Publisher: Endless Fluff Games
Release Date: January 31, 2011
Review Copy Info: A copy of this title was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.