Legends of Pegasus is the newest entry into my beloved space 4X genre, and I’ve been waiting to jump on it. The game promised to blend turn based strategy and real time battles in way that was much more seamless then what we’ve seen before. The trailers promised stunning visuals, deep customization and immersive gameplay. Sadly, however, this beautifully wrapped present doesn’t do a very good job of hiding the disaster waiting inside.
There aren’t many better examples of a game that was released unfinished then Legends of Pegasus. I do see potential in this game, but you have to look very closely to find it. There may very well be a beautiful new game waiting once you polish it up, but right now it’s hard to even review the game when crashes are constant and save games seem to work seldom at best.
There have already been a few patches, and I do hope that this continues, because Legends of Pegasus could find a following in the new and unique way it handles battles. Instead of a galaxy map where you fight over systems, in LoP the systems are both strategic and battle maps. Ship movements are made in turn-based mode and when they approach an enemy, the game stops and puts that area into real-time mode for a fight. Instead of having randomly generated maps, you can plainly see where you’re going to be fighting.
The graphics are surprisingly good for an independent game, but most of the time you’ll have to be so zoomed out that it’s hard to marvel at their graphics work on ships and planets. One thing that comes up quickly is the lack of backgrounds throughout most systems. The empty blackness of space may be a cold and harsh reality, but it doesn’t make for a very exciting background. You’ll be seeing plenty of it too, while you can quickly pan to a planet or major feature like an asteroid field, plenty of mission objectives will be out in the middle of nowhere.
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things I found early on was one of the ships in my fleet seems to move in circles repeatedly while firing. No matter what orders I gave, that one ship kept at it. It turns out because it was a smaller class of ship that was supposed to mimic it flying around and dodging, I just thought it was annoying, and in a game with so many bugs, it felt like just another one until I figured it out.
That ship turning in place is so noticeable because the rest of your ships will just sit around while they fire. In fact battles seem to consist mostly of flying up to one another and lining up to shoot. Given time the game could implement bonuses for things like flanking to fix this. If they’re in already I couldn’t find them, perhaps not implemented yet.
The tutorial quickly sets the mood for a game that wasn’t ready. Legends of Pegasus quickly runs into a common problem with indie games made by developers that don’t speak English as a first language, the translation and spelling errors. Based on the problems I saw, it’s quite clear that they never got to do a polish pass with a native English speaker, or if they did, Novacore didn’t get a chance to implement the fixes.
Five minutes in and I’m already frustrated and having flashbacks of E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy and it’s translation problems when the game crashes and I have to spend a few minutes hunting around trying to find where to load savegames. Surprise, the savegame doesn’t want to work. I tested making a few other savegames I made and found more often then not the game threw me back to the tutorial when trying to load. A real problem because Legends of Pegasus will crash often.
This is about the point where most people would have given up and gone to the Steam forums to complain, but yet I pressed on. Once you get to the first planet, the tutorial becomes less about learning, and more about pushing the end turn button repeatedly. I understand Novacore wanted a slower paced turn-based strategy game, but having me press the end turn button fifty times in what should be the first few minutes isn’t the best way to endear someone to the game.
After a while you get to a point where it starts giving you more freedom, and another realization hits, the AI is terrible. There’s no need to outsmart it because they just come blindly charging in from the same side every time. If you can get the game to work long enough, fighing another player might bring a real challenge, but just highlight another point.
Ship customization and research, hallmarks of any good 4x space game are a nightmare of confusing interfaces. The whole UI needs to be completely redone. The hot buttons for ship actions are so tiny that it can be problematic to click them in the midst of a fight. This game is going to need a lot more time to actually become something good.
In its current state Legends of Pegasus comes off as annoying, even the fact that the music is too loud by default and has to be turned down grated on me until I just couldn’t take it anymore. Can you play a full game right now as-is? Maybe. Would you enjoy it? No. The game in it’s current state is almost unplayable.
The good news is I decided to wait a couple days at this point for Novacore to do something, and they did. A few patches have now been released that make the game much more playable. While it’s still a buggy nightmare, it’s almost playable at this point. Sadly what likely happened was that the studio ran out of time, money, or both. It’s a problem small studios often struggle with and has affected this genre terribly.
As I discussed in a previous piece on the genre, this sort of thing has happened several times before, most recently with Sword of the Stars II. With mostly smaller independent studios producing these kind of games, problems are bound to crop up. Sword of the Stars II has been out for close to a year now, and Kerberos has been struggling to continually patch and upgrade it with a diminished staff.
I bring all of this up in a review because it’s most likely the future that Legends of Pegasus has in front of it. Can it be a good game someday? Absolutely, all the basics are there and it’s blend of turn based and real time strategy could win it a nice cult following. Don’t buy Legends of Pegasus today, the game isn’t there yet. This will be worth checking out when it comes up on sale on Steam a year from now with all it’s problems fixed.
This was a hard review to write, not just because the game was frustrating but because the game showed such promise. It just goes to show that you can’t be taken in by flashy trailers and screenshots, because in this case, that picture with a bit of voice over work might end up being an entire cut-scene, and hide a Pandora’s Box of bugs.