Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia Review – Narrative-Driven SRPG Goodness

    Title: Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia
    Developer: Matrix
    Release Date: June 25, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Happinet
    Genre: Strategy RPG

If you haven’t heard of the Brigandine series, then it’s probably because some entries are pretty expensive on the PlayStation. However, it is well-known amongst strategy RPG fans for its deep tactical mechanics and narrative storytelling. Now, we are getting a new entry in the series with Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia, and thankfully you don’t have to have any knowledge of the previous games to enjoy it. More importantly, The Legend of Runersia continues the classic gameplay elements the series is known for with modern systems, which make it a satisfying experience on the Switch.

Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia tells the story of a region ruled over by five nations and a tribe. An energy source known as Mana fuels the lands, which has fed into the creation of Rune Knights, who are equipped with a powerful armor known as Brigandine. While the nations were once at peace, the six groups have raised their arms in conflict, and war has broken out for control over the continent of Runersia.

Players can choose which region they wish to control, and each of them has their own reasons for entering the war. There’s a unique way of storytelling here as the campaigns begin with a short introduction of the main characters within the region to explain why they are fighting. However, it’s over the course of the entire campaign where you will understand their relationships with not only the people in their group but also with opponent commanders.

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It’s safe to say that the story is one of the most significant drawing points for me as the developers did a fantastic job of balancing the narrative and strategy systems. There are moments where the localization becomes stale, but this is mostly present when new knights enlist, which is led by a short introduction of who they are. What I found even more impressive is how the characters interact with each other and enemies on the battlefield if you have specific units on a team. It makes the entire experience feel non-linear as the story appears to be tailored to the player through their choices.

I really enjoyed most of the characters in the game and appreciated the extent that the writers put into character arcs. However, when it comes to actual development, only a few characters see any real drastic change. For the most part, you are always going to try to conquer the entire continent no matter who you choose, even if the story is based around unity. Still, by the end of each campaign, you’ll feel that you’ve pieced together a full puzzle as to why this world is at war.

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Turns are represented by seasons and have an organization phase and attack phase. The organization phase is probably the more important of the two as this is how you move units, summon new units, equip units, create teams, change classes, or go on quests. This phase can be a little overwhelming at first, but it becomes more manageable after a few turns.

A strategy is always something that players should have on their mind while play. Moving commanders to bases on the edge of their captured areas is a must to defend against invaders. However, you’ll need to take into consideration that some units will be on quests to retrieve new gear and enlist new units so they won’t be able to defend. Furthermore, choosing which groups to beef up is also something to take into consideration after you acquire better equipment.

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This game is a strategy RPG at its finest as each system works well together, even if navigating the menu can be tedious at times. You are regularly required to plan for the worst-case scenario, but its also fun to take chances. Mana is required to summon new monsters to the party, who are each unique and have a range of abilities that can benefit a unit.

Both commanders and monster units can access class changes. This allows units to grow and become stronger after reaching a certain level. This is an important system as it will enable you to level up the same type of monster, but then change their classes to fill a specific need in the party. Overall, I really liked this feature and felt that it added a substantial amount of depth to unit levels.

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The attack phase has players send over units to capture enemy bases. On the other hand, enemies can also invade player bases. Regardless, a fight is bound to break out. During battles, players will move their units to encounter the enemy. Sadly, there isn’t a “move entire party” option, which would have saved a lot of time, but there is a speed-up option to get things going.

Units have different skills that can be used right after they move or others that require them to be used without moving. There are also magic abilities and plenty of variety within the unit types. Each battle can be pretty long, but if you dwindle the enemy forces down enough, they retreat. While the battles are addicting and consistently fun, I didn’t really ever feel too attached to the environments, which all pretty much look the same.

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The Legend of Runersia has some fantastic illustrations, and the developers don’t hold back with the sheer amount of CGs and additional unit illustrations, which each have their own animation and respective voiced dialogue. These designs made the more lengthy discussion scenes a little more engaging, given that some of the conversations aren’t that entertaining.

After completing the game, new modes are unlocked, which makes it more challenging and only allows you a few seasons to conquer the region. I’d like to add that this is perhaps the perfect game for the Switch given the genre. It works and runs perfectly in both docked and handheld mode, but the loading times are a little long between phases.

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Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia is an excellent strategy RPG with all the classic elements of the Brigandine series paired with modern gameplay mechanics. The entire experience is well balanced and addictive across many battles and phases and it is made better through the excellent character writing featured in each campaign, even if some interactions are a bit dry. If you ask me, this is a must-play SRPG for any Switch owner.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.