I wrote a review for Legionwood 2 about a week ago based on my experiences in the first 2-3 hours into the game. Although I was able to analyse the battle mechanics and world design to quite some depth, I also pointed out weaknesses in the character development, and how information about the world was conveyed to the player. Thankfully, as I played further into the game I found that these problems were addressed, and I felt it would be necessary to re-write my review, and hopefully help the developer in the process. I will avoid all spoilers beyond the first two hours of this game.
If, like me, you have never played a Legionwood game before, you may wish to brace yourself for the first few hours of the game. The player is assaulted with world information and lore over the first few hours, and I found it very difficult to actually understand what was going on. Naturally it was difficult to become invested in the events of the game at that point. The character development showed similar problems - the main party members were able to supply the player with large quantities of information to keep the story moving, but showed little personality (I was convinced that some characters lacked any personality traits whatsoever - Felix frequently made snide comments or light jokes, and Lionel showed some signs of mourning for Clara, but Aelia and later Marcus showed no detectable emotions or character). Thankfully, as the player progresses further into the story, some of these characters have their background explored, and their personality expanded upon. The story itself becomes easier to follow, too, as characters start to respond to recent events instead of bringing up pieces of lore that the player feels little relation to. The player is able to undertake many side-quests as they progress further in the story, which offer opportunites to improve your party, better pace the events of the main quest, and learn more about specific corners of the world. It's a shame that all of this only picks up after a few (5?) hours of gameplay, but what is present is very well-written, and a definite strength of the game.
The meat of the game, the battles, are both challenging and satisfying. It is rare to find an RPG with such enjoyable battles, and I'm not just talking about RPG Maker titles. Bear in mind that they do have a high level of difficulty from the start, so if you have never completed a Final Fantasy game, you may want to steer clear from this one to avoid frustration. Personally, I really appreciated the difficulty, and it forced me to think tactically whenever I encountered a strong opponent. The battles are viewed from a side-on perspective (a big plus for me!) with a conditional turn-based system similar to that of Final Fantasy X. This lends a lot to the strategy, as you must consider not only strength and weakness, but also timing and order of the moves you execute. Characters may be assigned classes (think of the jobs systems of the earlier Final Fantasies) that roughly describes what functions they may serve in battle. And since you are unlikely to win all your battles by just repeatedly attacking, there is real value in choosing classes that inflict status conditions, or reduce enemy statistics, or have a higher critical hit ratio, etc. Although I may be asking a bit much, it could have been fun to see the characters develop within their chosen classes and not just as a whole, but the system is fine as it is and I would not wish it to become unbalanced.
The graphics and sounds are pleasant but not outstanding. The developer has achieved much using the resources supplied with RPG Maker VX, and this is in no way a criticism. The environments are richly detailed - moss growing on cavern walls, tufts of grass amid the odd flower on bright mountain paths, broken furniture and bones littering grey halls in untouched ruins (but who ever heard of doors rotting shut?) The only criticisms I do have are minor, and refer to graphical elements added by the developer: face portraits generally look a little odd, but such should be expected when using the in-built editor, and some components of the user inferface when in a battle are a little difficult to work with (highlights could be a little difficult to see, and icons in the CTB gauge do not specify which enemy they may represent). I find it easy to overlook such ♥♥♥♥les, though, as the rest of the game world is presented very well.
I have yet to complete the game, but I have encountered a few bugs or small mistakes as I have played the game - they are almost always benign, thankfully.
* In certain cut-scenes, if Lionel has the wound status when other party members are removed, the game may cut to the Game Over screen and force the player to load their previous save.
* The CTB gauge occasionally gives incorrect information, in one of two ways: a character's turn might not start when it is stated to on the gauge, and enemies might take their turns earlier than suggested. These may be symptoms of the same problem, which I imagine is due to the way the CTB system is implemented.
* This might not be a bug, but upon learning a new spell when already knowing 8, Marcus forgot one of his previous spells. If this is not a bug, it would be nice to be prompted with a choice upon attempting to learn a move that will cause you to forget an existing one.
* Some skill descriptions differ when comparing the item form and the learned skill form (debilitating shot).
* Some of the metal chests appear to be closed after the player has opened them if they leave the screen and re-enter.
* Some of the sleeping characters change sprite when they are interacted with (they might need to have their direction fixed to prevent this?)
* Some speech contains spelling mistakes.
* Upon meeting one of the kings, he describes the Queen to be on his right. She is actually on his left. (I found it quite amusing to imagine him, with his eyes closed, gesturing to empty space while introducing her, and everyone in the room being too afraid to correct him!)
I stress that these bugs do not irritate me when playing the game - most are harmless, and I list them in the hope that they might aid the developer in identifying and fixing them in future updates.
In summary, I would recommend this game to anyone who has previously completed a Final Fantasy title and is prepared to play through the first few hours before they are able to connect with the world and its characters. Combat is very much enjoyable preciely because it presents a challenge and is well-balanced (when did you last play an RPG where you felt you had to stock up on potions when you left a village?), and there is a large amount of content available between crossing the land as part of the main quest and completing many side-quests along the way, with the occasional well-written cut-scene to break up the action. While I am not humming the tunes outside of the game they are certainly not boring to listen to and overall the world is well-presented. Previously I had criticised the game quite heavily for having so many good features that were not tied together well due to poor character and story development; now I find I am eating my words as I play further into the game. Well done, Dark Gaia.