Ever since I was young, playing games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, I have loved turn-based role-playing games. Titles like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior introduced me to incredible stories and characters that had their own special abilities to help take down any of the enemies that show up. These smaller enemies would always randomly attack when you were walking around in areas that weren’t in towns. For some people, these random encounters are incredibly frustrating, but for me, I enjoy grinding to raise my levels to become stronger and learn new attacks and spells.
If you are playing a turn-based RPG you have come to expect these things; grinding, random encounters and parties of characters who join together to fight. At least that was until I played The Legion of Maelstrom. This indie RPG feels like it belongs right on the NES or Famicom. With 8-bit graphics and music created using the same techniques used by developers for the NES, it feels like a retro title. Then you start playing and realise that this title changes everything you have come accustomed to.
The game starts off by showing the destruction caused by huge storms that have been hitting the towns and landmarks in the area every day at the same time. Your main character is hit by lighting and saved by Elder Milo and Logan who reside in the nearby town. Since your character survived this event you have proven that your character is strong enough to take down the entity that is causing the storms and all of this destruction.
Elder Milo takes you aside and teaches you about the class system. The class system is made up of five different jobs; Ninja, Soldier, Priest, Citizen and Wizard. These can be changed at any point in the game, all you have to do is go into a town and choose the corresponding outfit from the clothes-line that is hanging. Each job has special equipment that will have to be purchased at the shop before you head out of town on your quest.
First thing you will notice that no matter how much you walk outside of town, there are no random boss battles. There aren’t any smaller battles at all to be precise, all you will be doing is fighting bosses. When you do take down an archfiend, it doesn’t mean he is completely defeated and you will never see him again. You learn that to level up you have to fight bosses to a max of twice for each job class. To resurrect the fallen boss you will use a Life Rock. There will be a sign posted beside the boss showing when you challenged it last what class you were so you know what classes you can use to battle them again.
The battle system in The Legion of Maelstrom is very unique and different from any one I have come across. It uses a Tile Attack system that consists of four blocks. The top tile is to attack, the second tile is for special moves, the third is focus where you can briefly meditate and regain Magic Points and the fourth tile is to use items like potions. It is a nice change to be able to use Focus to refill your Magic Points instead of having to rely on special potions that you would have to buy.
Since these are boss battles they will be more difficult than battles you would have with random small enemies, it will take some strategy to take them down. In one of the towns you visit, you will have the chance to buy an Enemy Scanner for $100. This item will tell you the stats of the enemy and how many hit points they have remaining. The scanner is a totally optional purchase, but I find it advantageous to be able to see how many more hits are required to take them down. Once the enemy is defeated you get to play a slot game for accessories or weapons dropped. If you are lucky you might get weapons that have really high attack stats. I found that at first I wasn’t getting anything that was really good, but that’s because my Luck stat was low. If you work on improving your Luck stat, every 100 points you increase it will improve your odds at getting the better loot.
When you fight the archfiends you can level up each class twice. But just because you have beat the enemy as a ninja before doesn’t mean you can’t challenge him again. You may not level up, but you can collect the loot that is dropped to use or sell at the shop. Since you don’t earn money from the battles themselves you have to acquire it by selling loot or running errands for people like getting milk for the bartender. Though once you procure the fishing rod and find the secret fishing spot that is past the cemetery you will be able to make money way faster. There are different species of fish to catch, each worth a different amount when you take them to the shop. The real money maker is the Behemoth Fish that is worth at least $200 depending on where you sell it.
There are 13 archfiends to take down before you have to fight the Maelstrom. Even if you fight each one twice with all five classes you are looking at 65 boss battles. This actually didn’t feel as repetitive as I was worried about. Since you have the five different classes, all with their unique attack styles and moves it felt new and required some strategic planning to beat the boss. With the weaker classes like the Citizen, I found it beneficial to take advantage of the full team levelling up so I would send the stronger character in first to do their battles. Once they won, everyone's stats would improve. This really helps out the weaker ones making them more likely to be successful in battle.
The Legion of Maelstrom takes between 16 and 20 hours to complete, but of course, this can change depending on your playing style and luck. It provides a completely new experience with a game that feels so familiar with the great retro visuals and music. If you enjoy turn-based role-playing games that involve some strategy and luck, The Legion of Maelstrom is a game that you just have to challenge yourself. It may look like a game you have played in the past but it is so different from what you expect. I am hoping there will be another title in this series, and if not I look forward to what creator Andrew R. puts out next!
The Legion of Maelstrom (Reviewed on Windows)
Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?
The Legion of Maelstrom is a retro-inspired turn-based RPG that takes everything you know from games you have played in the past and switches it up to make a totally new experience. This game feels like an RPG from an alternate reality, it's a must-play game that needs to be experienced!