Legends of Dawn Review: Not So Legendary

It is my firm belief that indie developers should STAY FAR, FAR AWAY from the open world RPG concept. Though it is every developer’s dream to exude their creativity and storytelling abilities with this style of game, indies must realize that they simply do not have the wingspan to fly as high as the triple-A studios playing in the major leagues.

‘Legend of Dawn’ is a proven point of that as it smashes to the ground pretty hard like a quail strapped to an anvil. Aside from bugs that occur with every exhale of carbon dioxide, some of the straight forward decisions made by the developer that invoke constant head scratching.

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To the north!

First, talking to one’s self is important for the storytelling aspect as well as character affiliation to the player. The player must make some sort of connection to the protagonist and the game does a good job of keeping tasks into perspective throughout  and the quest log does a decent job of keeping tasks at hand. However, when someone talks to themselves, they perhaps mumble under their breath, have a spaced out look to their eyes, and/or maybe look up to the sky every so often. This guy, however, breaks into a full ledged conversation with himself with bodily jimmying and arm swinging that reminds me of my senile Italian relatives.

The gestures are particularly puzzling whenever receiving a quest and your character is listening yet still frails about. When people ‘talk with their hands’, they talk with their hands. They do not listen with their hands.

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Who you talking to, mate?

The controls are fairly standard. Right click to attack – well that’s about it. Number keys are for all of your consumables of course.  While on the battlefield, it is frustrating fighting turrets that have somehow sprouted in the jungle.  You can put all of your points into dexterity and somehow still miss a still object three times in a row. To elaborate off that, there is very little consistency when fighting creatures. You can fight one creature and barely break a sweat then fight the exact same creature and end up nearly dying. This is due to the amount of misses that occur ever too frequently.

The combat has its pros and cons. Minions from all sorts of animal kingdoms and fantasy worlds make an appearance. Giant spiders seem to be the jellyfish of the RPG universe since Ocarina of Time. Luckily the game opens with tiny spiders and moves on to more dangerous creatures.  The character can improve his skills against certain creatures as he levels throughout the game and gain attack bonuses. The aggroing is a tad odd though. Your enemies always have red tint shadowing them. This is obviously to indicate that they are enemies and are a threat but it is hard to tell if they are actually coming after you or not. They will make a sound of some kind and yes, begin to charge you. However, it is very difficult to determine if it is one, two, three, four, or even five creatures that have been ticked off because one, two, three, four, or five sounds are not heard.  Hearing the one and supposedly that is battle cry for everyone to join in.

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The wolf pack has been felled.

To aggro a unit, there is a taunt button. This seems ideal, but it is unbelievably hard to assume the range of effect this action will have. This is also due to the fact that every creature will have different comfort zones. There are also variable levels of persistence. This is a good thing because it adds more dynamic to hunting (for experience points mainly) but there are several types of enemies in one battling area. You can target one, but your taunt has a radial effect and you can end up pulling a throng of enemies. Hockey reference: It’s like wanting to drop the gloves with one goon and somehow ending  up skating towards the other team’s bench and fighting  every player, coach, trainer, team doctor, and the fans sitting behind the glass.

So what to do when you pull a Todd Bertuzzi and every hockey player wants to rip your head off? You run! Straight to the dressing room and don’t look back! However, this is where the game becomes ridiculously frustrating. The camera and the controlling of the camera are horrible!

As shown in the image below, I am being chased as a result of telling every creature that their mothers and sisters have more mileage than the village tricycle. As you can see, I am ironically NOT looking towards the dressing room because the camera cannot be changed while running. If the camera is altered while running, the character simply runs in circles. The player must stop, angle the camera to the desired view, and then toggle running again. This may seem like a minor thing to complain about, but the camera rotation is very slow and choppy.

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He may look like he’s walking away, but he’ll come back for me! I guess he really doesn’t know what he wants.

Moreover, you cannot look upward in this game. The view of the entire game is the same as the view a driver gets when the sun shield is down. When running uphill the player is literally staring at the ground.

Not that the level design is anything to pop your head up for anyways. The textures, particularly grass have the ‘popup book’ effect.  Most games will utilize a fading effect of some sort on distant backgrounds for reasons related to graphic fluency to avoid video lag. Legend of Dawn, however, does not. Thankfully, this can be turned off. This is another decision the developer made that is simply mind boggling – Why even bother putting these textures in?

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Honestly, sometimes the game just looks awful.

Though much effort was put into the story, dialogue, and voice acting, players will find themselves not caring quite quickly. This is no fault to the developer; it is simply the conditioning a gamer has when they have heard the same type of story over and over and over. Modern MMORPG’s have simply ruined any interest many gamers have into investing time into a story. Grinding it out on the battlefield to get levels is the way to go! Though again, the below average mobbing makes it difficult to do that and tests patience to the extreme.

If following a story is the player’s main focus, then they shall be rewarded generously. Reputation builds as you complete quests which allow you to haggle down prices at the local Kwik-E-Marts. Yes, this is useful because unlike some RPG’s, breads, fruits, and anything to heal you while grinding out in the jungle go a long ways. After a fight, it arbitrarily takes an insane amount of time to recover to full health. I found myself minimizing the program, watching a compilation video on YouTube, and then trying to go back into the game when my character reached full health.

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