Tristia: Legacy Review – A Curious Jewel of the Blue Sea

    Title: Tristia: Legacy
    Developer: KOGADO STUDIO
    Release Date: January 20, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Komodo
    Genre: Simulation

Tristia: Legacy is a remastered edition of an old classic called Aoi Umi no Tristia, and it’s the first time it gets an English release. For fans of titles such as the Atelier series, it’s reminiscent of the older games but entirely focused on recreating a port town. Without battles or anything resembling an RPG format, it focuses on the daily life of a young inventor instead.

Tristia is a small town that used to be known as the Jewel of the Sea. Once upon a time, it was a bustling area, vibrant in its maritime trade, but it’s only a skeleton of that former glory now. After an attack by a giant dragon, Tristia suffered a lot of damage, and its people see no hope in the future.

As Tristia is close to its last days, the mayor decides to play a final card: calling the genius Prospero Flanka for a town regeneration plan. However, he has grown old and sends his granddaughter, Nanoca Flanka, instead. Though she’s skilled and knows the Prospero-style crafting all too well, the townspeople can’t believe a 14-year-old kid would be able to handle such a task.

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Despite that, Nanoca is determined to make the most of this learning experience. She’s a bold inventor who dedicates herself to her craft. Always with an optimistic outlook, she may be a little wet behind the ears, but there’s no denying her skill, which the player gets to see in practice through gameplay.

Tristia: Legacy is an inventor simulation game, with the player creating new items and helping Tristia grow. The gameplay loop follows this pattern: you go around town, buy and sell items, then go back to your workshop to study them and craft new products that range from food to marvelous technological inventions.

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Sometimes you’ll get story missions that demand specific creations in a week, but you can also explore the system your way and sell whatever you make to stores later. Just keep in mind that you’re selling the patents so stores won’t buy them more than once, which means creating too much of the same thing may lead to burning cash and never recouping.

Among the items you can make, there are expansion projects that the town hall can approve to attract more tourists. The more you play with expanding, buying, and selling, the more Tristia will thrive, attracting more people and funds. By the time hundreds of people are running around town, you’ll have plenty of random NPCs rushing to your workshop to ask for new products.

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While time is precious, as quests have strict deadlines, going around town has no cost. Time will only move when you’re at home studying materials, crafting something, or sleeping (a mostly unnecessary option for our inventor girl who is always pulling all-nighters). As such, though it may be a little tedious to do it every single time, exploring all areas whenever possible lets you trigger new dialogue events, get a few free items, and be on top of your game.

You can learn new recipes by going around town and studying items at the workshop, with the latter costing a unit (out of 3) from your day and some money. Depending on the item you’re investigating, you may have to study it multiple times. Coming up with new recipes may also go faster if you’re lucky.

The same goes for crafting, as recipes have a success rate. The more intricate and delicate an item is, the less likely you’re to succeed. Failing means spending time and materials only to come up with nothing. However, each new try makes success 5% more likely next time, and, luckily, you can always “cheat” and reload your save to try again.

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Seeing Nanoca’s antics as she tries more and more things to enhance Tristia makes for a cute journey. It’s compelling to learn more about this alternate world and see the town get busier as time goes on, with people running around the streets everywhere and clear improvements to the numbers. However, I must say the game lacks a lot of polishment.

Tristia: Legacy is a remaster of a 2002 PC game, and, as far as I can tell, it tries to be true to its source. Visually, the game had a noticeable upgrade, with Komatsu E-ji’s sprites having a lot more detail and the game being in HD for the first time. Sprites and scenes with CGs are reminiscent of back in its day while still feeling fresh.

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When it comes to the other aspects of the game, however, it doesn’t fare so well. First of all, the voice tracks are off at times. As they seem to be from the previous releases, the recording quality is noticeably lower than current standards. Some characters’ grating voices even have artifacts from going beyond the reasonable microphone volume, so they’d likely need a new recording.

As a game with a lot of dialogue, it’s also noticeable how text box transitions can be a little too slow. Sometimes, it feels like the game stuttered, as it takes too long to bring up the following line, but it’s not the case as the menu is available.

However, the worst part is in the quality of life for the gameplay. For instance, the tutorial happens only once, and the player has no access to it again in-game afterward. Even though the game’s simulation is relatively simple for the genre, many details can be confusing or leave room for misconceptions.

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Menus never have all the information the player needs. For instance, when it’s time to build an item, you only have a visual cue for “having” or “not having” the necessary materials. If you want to know how many materials you have, you’d need to look at your inventory in a separate menu. Forget making multiples of the same item consecutively with a single click, but that’s at least more understandable due to the success rate circumstance.

Sometimes, it may even get worse due to translation inconsistencies. For example, some people may ask you for an item, then the menu will call it differently. Most of the time, you can at least imagine which one they meant, but when someone asks for an “Air Conditioner” and the menu later says they want a “Cooler” (which is another item entirely), it can get annoying. Menus may also overflow a little, and the translation could have been better, with typos and slightly unnatural choices from time to time.

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Finally, still on the issues that may seem small but greatly hinder the game: the buildings. To improve Tristia, you must go all over town, preferably buying and selling items from different stores in all districts. Unfortunately, interacting with the places is done by hand, and you don’t have a list of the available stores.

While going around town is cute and a neat way to see Tristia’s growth, it gets less and less appealing over time. Not only are there too many stores, but their positions seem random, so some facilities may only be barely visible/interactable from the corner of the screen.

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Tristia: Legacy is a cute simulation game, and I enjoyed my time with Nanoca Flanka and her friends. However, its issues hinder the experience significantly, so most players are less likely to have a good time. However, if you are fond of simulations and cute girls with book smarts, this old-school classic may still be for you.

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

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.