A strange sickness has fallen over the land. Plague ravages the inner regions of the town of Jilemnice and those that live on the outskirts are struggling to survive on what they can get. Even the forests that surround the land are sick and dying. The local miners have been forced out of the mine by sudden flooding and now spend their time drinking in the inn where you work, pouring out drinks and mopping up vomit whilst the landlord gets drunk in the corner and shouts at you. And then the beer runs out. Where's that next delivery?
Thus starts an unusual RPG, which features puzzles and mystery as well as the occasional scrap with baddies. In your search for more beer supplies, you're given a quest - head into the mines and find an ancient grimoire. Can doing so restore the land? Perhaps. Can it find some more beer and get that landlord off your back? Perhaps not!
Legie is very easy to operate. Click on things with the left mouse button to interact with them, or move around. Press the right mouse button to access your inventory. Talk to people, find lost treasures and explore the area. There is no combat at first - figuring out how to keep the pub running smoothly will take a few minutes in any case! When you do encounter enemies (bats, warriors or otherwise) you switch to combat mode - here you left click to swing your weapon and right click to raise your shield - assuming you have at least one of these items! Depending on where you strike your enemy, you can do a varying amount of damage, and new weapons can be bought from the blacksmith for a few gold pieces. Recover lost health with carafes of wine and light your way with torches.
Money is your key constraint. You'll have a handful of metal coins to start you off and more can be earned or found - but they are limited. Spend them all at your peril! Your health is also key - you only have one life, so save often. Wine (your main restorative) is not cheap and combat is always perilous! In fact, despite the small size of the game, it is actually quite tough. At least navigation is less awkward than it could be - an automap in the top right corner of the screen keeps track of where you are.
Graphics are remarkably good for the comparitively small file size. The 3D effect is more than adequate and the attempt at a medieval Czech town is pretty good (though I am in no position to comment on historical accuracy!). Objects you can interact with are named when you move the mouse over them. If you have an inventory item selected, you can tell if it will interact with something by the way the cursor changes. Locations are made out of clear square blocks, though the outdoors is less orthogonal, and you can freely look around when not in combat.
Sound is one of Legie's greatest assets, with plenty of background in town (a clock chimes now and again; thunder and rain are constant while outdoors) and sound effects all over the place - from the pouring of beer to the clink of coins. Music is fairly unobtrusive - there's a main theme and some subtle background whilst in the woods, but otherwise the main music is during battles. You can also get a tune out of the begging musician in the pub, though it'll cost you a coin. Overall the sounds are immersive enough to enhance the setting. You can adjust the general volume on the main menu, but not individual elements.
It's very easy to get started with Legie. The controls are simple and the interface fairly intuitive. Clickable items are well marked if you hover the mouse over them, though finding them is not always easy. I had some trouble finding a way out of town because of one fairly well hidden item! These simple controls belie the difficulty of the game, however - it is not always clear what to do next. Money is also very tight - a wrong purchase can leave you stuck. Your health is very unforgiving - even the bats in the first level of the mine are very dangerous to the unprepared. Combat felt sticky - one attacks enemies by clicking on them (and certain areas lead to faster kills) but sometimes it didn't respond too well. Death is frequent. Use of a shield (when obtained) was tricky to get the hang of at first but improved my survival immensely when mastered! If Legie was a little more forgiving in this area I would probably make better progress.
While there are many aspects of Legie that work very well, the main drawback is the quality of the English. It is sometimes quite hard to make out what characters are saying as the translation is fairly poor - one normally picks up the meaning but I suspect a few expressions have been lost in translation. The scope of the game is also more limited - there is only one main story with few side quests. Once you know how to beat the game it can (according to the developers) be completed within a few hours, so replay is perhaps limited. There are also a few bugs to watch out for, such as the guy in the pub that will play the three cups game. After I had a winning streak he refused to play me again - but still took my money!
Nonetheless, I am impressed by Legie. It is an unusual approach to the genre and the simplification of it makes it seem much more real. It's harder for me to take a game as seriously when you're casting spells and quaffing potions as often as swinging a broadsword, while the very absence of these fantastic elements makes Legie a bleaker and slightly darker game. I get more of a sense of the desperation of the game's characters. Even without the benefit of clearer writing, there's a fairly powerful story in here. Very promising, Sudokop - more like this please!
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