|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ice Game Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Paradox Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 25, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
During an era of gaming where improved graphics, AI, and game engines reign supreme, it is difficult to imagine there is a place left in gamers' hearts for a simpler presentation. However, if there is one thing cloud platforms such as PlayStation Store, Xbox LIVE, and Steam have done, it is made it as easy and cheap as ever to fall in love with those indie games that tug at our nostalgia. Legio, developed by Ice Game Studios, is one such game, which hopes to capture your inner chess player rather than your eye.
Legio's back-story is simple to grasp. The kingdom of Bella Lagucia had a benevolent King named Theoron the Witty. His wife died while giving birth to twins, Lorenzo and Florentia, who Theoron raises to compete against one another. After about 20 years, this constant competition makes the siblings hate each other. On his deathbed, King Theoron sees the stupidity of his son and the pure evil of his daughter and refuses to pick an heir to the throne. After the King passes, Lorenzo and Florentia divide the kingdom and begin fighting each other, both refusing to the leave the castle. Eventually, after much of the land is destroyed until all that remains is the castle standing atop two plateaus, the twins declare a truce. Instead of waging war against each other for control, they agree to share control. To help facilitate this shared power, they agree that any disagreements would be decided by playing a game of Legio.
Unfortunately, Legio's interesting and quirky storyline ends there, with players taking up the job of deciding these "disagreements" by simply playing either one on one against the computer, online with a friend, or at the same time using a single computer. The lack of any kind of single-player campaign or story-focused gameplay is understandable, but disappointing. The "Alice in Wonderland" feel to Legio gives it a very interesting atmosphere and dark mood that could have been fun to explore.
Legio is a thinking-man's strategy game. Players prepare for each match by picking the pieces they wish to use on the board, placing those pieces on specific spaces, and then choosing the board layout of their own castle interior, which comes into play once a winner is declared on the draw bridge board. The starting board, which is the drawbridge connecting the siblings' castles, is always the same. Each player is given 25 points with which to spend on picking different pieces to use. Each of the 7 pieces has specific advantages and disadvantages that depend on the board layout, the pieces chosen by your opponent, and your own piece selections. For example, the priest piece can heal damaged pieces, while the Giant is able to do area damage to enemy pieces that are nearby.
There is no tutorial for beginners to learn the basics of the game, but the relatively quick games make jumping in fairly easy. The first several matches will easily be learning experiences as players get a feel for what the pieces are good at, how they move, what kinds of damage they do, and how they should be placed on the board. Interestingly, there is no difference between the types or appearances of the pieces between the two sides, so strategies formulated will work regardless of whether you are playing as Lorenzo or Florentia. While this aspect of the game mirrors that of chess and makes the gameplay more accessible, one can't help but feel that an opportunity for added strategic depth was missed.
Essentially, the game is played out and the winner determined by strategically moving your pieces across the board and eliminating all your opponent's pieces. However, while this is plays the largest role in determining victory, Legio adds another layer of variables by allowing players to determine the outcomes of specific attacks. For instance, when a piece moves to attack another piece, the camera view switches to something resembling first-person. In the center of the screen is a small, outlined circle, while an equally-sized circle moves around the screen quickly, often passing directly through the outlined circle. At this point, it is the player's job to left-click and attempt to line up the two circles directly on top of each other. The more accurate the player is, the higher the damage their piece will deal to the opponent's piece. Therefore, while moving your pieces around the board will be the largest determining factor, a few mistimed clicks could cost you the game.
Another feature added to Legio is "Speed Mode," which acts as a fast-forward for the game's animations and short attack scenes. While this would seem like a no-brainer for a turn-based strategy game, its inclusion here is greatly appreciated as there is an apparent lack of varying animations and sound effects. There are only so many times you can listen to the Archer's evil laugh each time it fires an arrow followed by the same damage sound effect. Legio could really use a much greater variety of attack animations and sound effects to break up the monotony that forces most players to skip them altogether using Speed Mode.