Langrisser Re:Incarnation -Tensei- Review

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Title: Langrisser Re:Incarnation -TENSEI-
Developer: Masaya, Career Soft, Aksys Games (Publisher)
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: 
Digital | Retail

EU Availability: Digital
Block Usage:  5,846

Langrisser is one of those franchises that many RPG fans know about and many RPG fans have no clue about.  I wouldn’t put it against you if you’d never heard of the franchise, since almost all of the games of the series were never released in the West.  Then again, I’m in the same boat if you didn’t.  I’d heard the name before, but never played any of the games until this past week.

If you know about the new Langrisser game, you know that reviewers have been ripping the poor thing to shreds.  On Metacritic, the game has an average rating of 34/100.  That’s awful!  I think I’ve only reviewed one or two games as low as a 3/10 and that’s mostly because they were a mess all around.  The fact that an RPG, one that Aksys Games published no less, was getting an average rating that low, it got me wondering.

So, my goal of this review is to clear everything up and tell you whether the game truly deserves that score or not.  Here is my review of Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei!

Story

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The plot of this game revolves around a war between two main factions, one being an empire and another being an army trying to stand against it.  Pretty cliché “evil empire vs rebellion of light” sort of thing.  Caught in the middle is a young man in a small town military named Ares, whom comes in contact with a magical sword known as Langrisser.  Before long, the army of light is trying to seek him out and he ends up in the conflict between the two factions.

The plotline is interesting enough, and there are plenty of characters with development, but my main complaint about the story is how fast the pacing is.  The story starts and within 2 minutes, bam, you already see your main character, during the next day and the town is under attack.  No halting for base character development before all hell breaks loose for him, the empire, the other army, his companions.  Just drop some names, a small scene of moving to a base and bam, town is taking fire.

Story pacing is important and that’s what I didn’t like about this.  The pacing was too drastic.  The writers had these big dramatic events, but didn’t put enough time into the little developments before having said dramatic event take place.  It all felt very rushed.

Gameplay

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Langrisser is a grid-based Strategy RPG, as the series has always been known for.  Each mission and scene will take place on a grid where you move units around and fight to complete objectives.  It’s got a basic SRPG formula, with the uniqueness to be told in just a bit.  All in all, it’s an SRPG.

Progression through the game is fairly linear, with you being taken from one scene/battle to the next.  You watch scenes unfold, the battle grid open up, fight a battle, get your spoils, and then you move onto the next set of scenes/battles.  Kind of like Yggdra Union was, but with a few more options available to you.

The interesting part of this system is that many scenes also take place on the grid.  You’ll see a scene developing with various units moving around on the grid, setting up the battle that is about to take place.  It combines this grid with visual novel-style cutscenes and really proves to be an odd, yet unique way of presenting the plot.

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When you go into battle, you’ll have your base units that are there in the battle because of story reasons, but you can also recruit mercenaries to help you out.  Think of it like Mercenaries from Ragnarok Odyssey Ace.  You pay them part of your reward in exchange for their support during the mission/battle.  Each story unit acts as a “Commander” and can each recruit mercenaries within your current budget and there are different classes of mercenaries you can recruit, such as warriors or archers.

The grid system in this game is by far one of the oddest-looking SRPG grids I’ve ever seen.  It is completely 2D in nature with no isometric showing like SRPGs normally have.  You are looking at a flat 2D map with pixel characters on it, moving around.  At its base, it plays like many SRPGs do, but the way it looks just presents itself in a way that makes you just tilt your head at first glance because of how different it looks.

Doing battle is pretty straight-forward.  There is a turn order and a unit can move, attack, use skills, etc.  All you’d expect from an SRPG.  Depending on the mission, you’ll need to do different things.  Some missions have you moving to a certain place while fighting enemies while others will have you fighting off enemies in normal combat.  But movement is key to any battle and formation is as well.

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Here, we get to parts of the game that are similar to Fire Emblem and Disgaea.  First off, if you have an ally directly next to you when you launch an attack, you can have them join in and give you a little extra damage to the attack.  This is very similar to how Disgaea handles team attacks.  Then, once you launch an attack, you go to a 3D animation, showing two 3D characters fighting for the attack.  Very similar to the zoom-in animations from Fire Emblem.

Once you defeat an enemy, you’ll get experience and can level up right in the middle of a battle, increasing your stats to continue making fighting easier.  This goes for all commander characters, since they’re not temporary like mercenaries are.

Once an entire battle is over, you’ll get a nice little phase where you can manage inventory, buy equipment, and in general just prepare for the next step.  It’s not an entirely free adventure to give you a chance to grind and grind, but it’s enough that it doesn’t feel as limited as games like Yggdra Union that force difficulty spikes on you with no way to train.

Controls

The controls are pretty simplistic.  First of all, the circle pad doesn’t really do anything.  The developers opted to have the D-Pad be used for movement in the field rather than the D-Pad and/or circle pad.  Now with the face buttons, one thing you’ll find interesting and a little odd is the A and B configuration.  Typically in Nintendo games, A is used to select menu items and B is used to cancel.  In Langrisser, this is swapped.  B is used to select and confirm, and A is used to cancel.  This will feel more comfortable to PlayStation fans as it more resembles the West’s configuration for the X and Circle buttons on PlayStation systems.

Now, let’s get to the rest of the control scheme.  The L and R triggers are used for zooming in and out of the grid with the camera.  X is used to pull up the game’s menu, and Y is used for switching the currently-selected character.  Finally, the touch screen has touch-specific menus to traverse.

I don’t really have a problem with the control scheme.  It works well.  The only thing is that the game doesn’t tell you how to do anything.  There is a mild combat tutorial, but no button tutorial at all.  A big “thrown under the bus” move, especially for a game that doesn’t use a traditional control scheme for the system.

Presentation

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The visual presentation is certainly lacking in a lot of ways.  Some would say it looks like a Game Boy Advance game and, really, it kind of does.  The only problem with the presentation is that the visuals look like they were made for a smaller screen.  Animated scenes look pixelated.  There’s a noticeable blur on character models and even cutscene artwork models.  It just looks like it wasn’t optimized enough.

The rest of the presentation has no complaints from me.  There’s nothing wrong with how it runs or loads or anything like that.  The load times are short, no frame drops, and no cuts in audio.  That part is optimized quite well.

Summary

Langrisser Re:Incarnation is a unique Strategy RPG for the Nintendo 3DS.  Granted, the game is not perfect with rapid story pacing with a general lack of info, no control tutorial, and a visual presentation that is blurred and pixelated.  It is certainly flawed, but is an interesting RPG for SRPG fans to spend some time with. 

6/10

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