Review – Sword Legacy Omen
At first look, Sword Legacy Omen doesn’t inspire much hope. A nonsensical stream of buzzwords telling nothing of the actual game, is usually a flashing warning for shovel-ware, and most would pass the game by without a second glance. I know I would. Yet hiding behind the name is a surprisingly competent turn-based RPG, with fantastic 2D artwork, and a sleek presentation. It’s not perfect by any means, but deserves more then to be burdened by such a name.
The story is based in Arthurian legend (as in King Arthur, the British dude with the magical sword and the round table), but takes place well before he’s even born during the life of his father Uther. It revolves around his quest to reclaim his kingdom and future wife from an evil nation, and along the way runs into many references to the future events such as the sword Excalibur, the Isle of Avalon, and broken medieval English.
However, despite the story and setting being Arthurian, in practice it’s more like a Conan story. It’s frequently brutal and gory, filled with evil magicks and twisted sorcerers. Merlin isn’t the wise Gandalf of the story, but a spellslinger cursed with visions and the ever present temptation of madness, and Uther not a faultless king, but a drunkard known as the “Prince-Slayer” for….well it’s pretty obvious why, who then hooked up with that Prince’s betrothed. For me it’s a LONG DESIRED breath of fresh air into a mythology I feel has long since been played out. Instead of a story about noble knights doing valorous things for chivalrous ladies and such, what you get is a gritty old-school swords and sorcery tale. That I can get on board with, and while nothing special, it’s rarely not entertaining.
The real backbone of this game though, is the combat, which is where the game shines like a beacon, however short it burns. The basic set-up is XCOM lite. Move along a checkerboard field among obstacles, traps, and varieties of explosives while taking cover in half/full varieties. What is unique about it is how much you can ignore of that, by taking to fast-paced tactics that would NEVER work in an XCOM game. You have a set amount of action points (APs) per turn that can be used for any action. Not just 1 move, 1 attack, you can chain attacks together if you’re close enough, use use long movement abilities(almost every class has one, and it can let you shoot across the battlefield for a pittance of APs), chaining together attacks at the start and finish to be a whirlwind of hack and slashing. None of that even gets into the real treat of the combat, the knockback system.
Every class either starts out, or can quickly get unlocked, multiple moves with single/area knockback effects. Unlike in most games however, knockback isn’t for space clearing, but rather a source of immense damage. When an object is knocked back into either an enemy or a piece of terrain they can take up to more then half health in one hit. This applies to all knockback effects from warriors to kindly priests, meaning that everyone on the field has a chance to DPS it up. What this all combines to in gameplay is your party zipping throughout the field smashing through enemies, setting them up like bowling pins into traps, and then sending a knockback attack their way, sending them into each other killing all en masse, and all the while avoiding cover like it doesn’t even exist. It’s one of the fastest paced turn-based games I’ve played, and is so damn satisfying when you line those combos up and watch the carnage settle.
The visuals round out this game’s fine package. Sporting ALMOST (which is to its detriment, more on that in a minute) complete 2D visuals, from the hand drawn backgrounds of the levels and world map, to the narrated story interludes and the comic-like character interactions, the art style is crisp and detailed in a nice dark and gothic theme that adds much to the game’s grim fantasy tale. The only issues with the game’s look are character animations. The game used 3D avatars spoofed into a 2D plane that look great… right up until they use an action. Then you have a very rough model making a rough animation that tears you out of the immersive gothic world the rest of the game sweeps you into.
Then there’s the Overkill animations (spawned whenever you go way over his renaming HP) which show your enemy gloriously dismembered, in a very rough 3D animation against the 2D background. Jarring to say the least, but not game-breaking in the slightest.
There’s only one huge flaw in what would otherwise be a fantastic game: length. Exploring every level and collecting everything took me about 3 hours to get halfway through the game, and from looking around this is right around the general length of the game 7-10 hours. There is a decent grind-lite progression system to pursue, but requires replaying the same old missions again and again, with no kind of procedural generation to change it up. At a price point of a bit less than 20 dollars this is not entirely unacceptable, but the game still finishes with you still ready for a lot more then it has to offer.
Overall though, you get around 10 hours (up to about 20 hours if you grind out the rest of the progression) of a fantastically fast paced turn-based strategy game, with a killer art style, and a story that sets a new spin on a played out theme. For the current price point of 18 dollars on Steam (local conversions apply), your mileage will vary, but for those hardcore turn-based fans out there looking for a change of pace, Sword Legacy Omen is exactly what you need.
The game uses gorgeous 2D rendered art most of the time, near flawless in detail or consistency. Only when things try to go 3D do things fall apart.
Combat is uncharacteristically fast paced, brutal, and satisfying for a turn-based game. Not only tactical for those of us who like a change-up, bit for those who prefer faster games, this is the turn-based title for them.
Do you like the same 4-5 minute battle music played again and again and again throughout each area? It’s not awful music, but does it get repetitive. What VA the game has is fine, but most of the game is also unvoiced, which was probably a budget choice.
Fun Factor: 9.0
The only thing wrong about the game is that the fun doesn’t last NEARLY long enough. Chaining up your knockback attacks like you are bowling never gets old.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Sword Legacy Omen is available now on Steam.
A copy of Sword Legacy Omen was provided by the publisher.