Ever since PlayStation released the PS1 classics on the PS5 with upscaled resolution, rewind features and save states a lot of people were playing ‘The Legend of Dragoon’ which caught my attention as I love RPG games. I eventually got around to playing it recently and I felt it to be quite a punishing game.
Off the bat, ‘The Legend of Dragoon’ is a Final Fantasy wannabe game. It came out in 1999 shortly after Final Fantasy VIII and looks like a hybrid of FFVII & FFVIII. The battle system is the one element of this game that really drags it down. Battles are so slow. FFIX got a bad reputation for slow loading battles, well this game beats that. To attack successfully you need to time button presses perfectly along with your character attacking. If you miss these then it is almost as if there was no point at all in attacking. There is an item that will time the attacks for you but it is VERY expensive. Unlike Squall’s gunblade attack in FFVIII which gave you a slight damage bonus, Legend of Dragoon relies on you hitting the strike button with perfect timing to cause normal damage. I can feel my blood boil just talking about this. Along with your low impact attacks, enemies will cause you significant damage too, you will find yourself using healing items a lot.The pace of the battles as well is so sluggish, special moves taking so long to play out. You can skip the Dragoon transformations but that is about it. Like in my ‘Sea of Stars’ review where I said sometimes in RPG games I like to just sit back and repeatedly tap the action button to get through battles, I don’t want to have 120% concentration for every single battle. Due to the slow speed, concentration needed and low experience received from battles, grinding is just not a feasible option in this game at all, if you fancy keeping your sanity.
Alongside the need for multiple healing items the game limits you to 32 items max at a time. No, not 32 different types if item, 32 of any item, they do not stack. This means that on your way to a boss fight you will deplete most of your items leaving you up a certain creek without a paddle.
Each area uses the same design style as Final Fantasy, a 2D rendered image that you can move around. Each area’s doors are marked with colourful arrows which are helpful, not so helpful that each screen has 8-10 of them, each building having multiple entry and exit points, some leading to dead ends meaning that each area is confusing and frustrating to navigate. One town there is an elderly lady who can only be accessed from a building the other side of the town, across rooftops then in through the loft down a ladder. Like, how does she get out? Are there sufficient fire exits for her?
The writing is not great at all, yeah I do like the characters, they are all different and have their own personalities. The text boxes are similar to FFVII but when a box appears that lets you select a response it is not very clear and I always accidentally selected the first option from the list. Yeah there is a little bit of voice acting but only in cutscenes and when each character achieves perfect attacks they will call out the attack name. Dart has a move called ‘Volcano’ which has absolutely nothing to do with volcanoes.
I threw in the towel at the Phantom Ship area as each battle was kicking my arse as I was unable to hit the timed attacks at all. I don’t know if it is due to me or the latency between the controller and the PS5. I used up all my items and Dragoon power just getting to a boss which the guide stated that I’d need a full inventory and healthy party to be in with a chance to beat. That is another massive issue with the game. You are sent through an area with tough battles or multiple bosses with nowhere to restock items or heal your party. It is completely an endurance test.
I tried so hard to stick in with this game despite not enjoying it from the get go but I felt that it was very restrictive and didn’t want the player to have fun. If it is a Final Fantasy knockoff then they decided that Final Fantasy was too fun and easy for their standards. I understand that this game has a big following but I can only imagine that is purely nostalgia based as they played it when it first released, also gamers were a lot more resilient then.