Review – Langrisser I & II

It’s crazy how video game releases work, especially back in the 80s and 90s, when so many games were released exclusively in Japan. One, or should I say two, of those games were Langrisser. Langrisser has seen very little release outside of Japan, aside from the “recent” mobile app that seems to have gone mostly unnoticed. The first Langrisser game was called Warsong in North America and only released on PC, while the last game, Langrisser: Re-Incarnate, was released on 3DS in North America and Europe.

Chances are though, outside of the aforementioned mobile app, this is probably the average gamer’s first chance at playing this series. Hopefully, it might lead to more games in the series in the future. For now though, we will have to settle for these remakes of Langrisser I & II. If you think that’s a bad thing, think again.

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Ledin, the main commander of Langrisser I.

Both games are introduced by Lucilia, the “well endowed” Goddess of Light. Lucilia will ask you a few questions that essentially dictate the kind of character you have in terms of stats, just like a tactical RPG version of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. In terms of pure gameplay, you control characters on a grid-based map who attack one at a time. On the surface, Langrisser feels very similar to Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy: Tactics.

That’s just the surface though, as the first key difference from most the Fire Emblem games is the “class tree”. The class tree allows for each character to use class points (or CP) to move his/her way through different classes, all of which offer different skills and mercenaries. CP is a fairly simple idea: you get points for leveling up and being the MVP in a match, which is awarded to whichever commander’s squad has the most kills. Your key characters (the ones who matter if they die) are your commanders. Having a full skill tree to work through allows for all different forms of play style. Your commanders can hire mercenaries before each match as well. They’re not particularly strong and could simply be seen as cannon fodder, as their deaths aren’t the biggest of deals and you can just hire more come the next level. Different classes allow for different mercenaries, meaning that if you want cavalry or mages, you’ll want to search for the specific class that can hire them.

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There are a ton of options in the Class Tree, what kind of commander are you?

A key difference you’ll find between Langrisser I and Langrisser II is the fact that Langrisser I starts off a bit more similarly to a traditional Fire Emblem game. Any fan of that series will know that typically you start with a very overpowered/over-leveled character on your team to help make the starting levels easier, and essentially to tank everything that might threaten you. Langrisser I starts off with a level 20 ally, while in Langrisser II you start with a level 1 character.

Outside of this though, the two games are incredibly similar in pure playstyle, which is a very smart choice. Nothing is more jarring in a game that features multiple iterations than having each one play completely differently from each other. Even the preparation screen in between chapters is the same, keeping everything consistent, giving you the option to change your classes, check your equipment and buy new stuff. Most interestingly though, is the “story tree” option. At any point, you can go to the story tree and replay previous chapters.

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The Story Tree allows for you to revisit any previous chapter in the game.

While outside of battle, the character portraits look great and each key character has a high quality avatar while in battle. The mercenaries each use the character art of the commander that they’re under, which helps to keep track of who belongs to whom. If, for some reason, you do manage to lose track of what mercenary should be with each commander, you can always just end your turn without moving them, and they’ll instantly move themselves either closer to their commander, or remain by their side if already there. When you kill an enemy commander, or if your commander is killed in battle, the mercenaries hired to work for them will disappear, so pick your battles wisely.

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The first mercenaries you will ever hire.

All in all, Langrisser I & II is a wonderful remake, giving not only a new era of fans, but a whole new demographic of fans access to a style of game that has finally found a solid following outside of Japan. Between the two games, following the story and doing your best not to lose characters, you can expect 60-70 hours of non stop, tactical turn-based RPG that will feel like games you may already be familiar with, but will require much more thought than ever needed before. On top of that, the games have a great soundtrack, so if nothing else, at least the music will keep your spirits high while your army gets wiped out after a poor decision.

Graphics: 8.0

A great looking game with a very well done art style. You can switch back and forth between the original sprites and brand new ones.

Gameplay: 9.5

While the base game keeps true to the turn-based gameplay already popularized by others in the genre, Langrisser adds a lot more depth than most fans have seen to this point.

Sound: 8.5

With a great soundtrack, it’ll be hard to be upset when your mercenaries get wiped out by some of the tougher enemies.

Fun Factor: 9.0

A breath of fresh air for the turn-based RPG genre (even though the games themselves are quite old), between the way you have to think about hiring mercenaries and balance them with your commanders.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Langrisser I & II is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Langrisser I & II was provided by the publisher.