Review by Victar

"Short. No depth. Buggy. Required grinding. A little story humor is this RPG's only saving grace."

If you enjoy irreverent, turn-based RPGs, have two or three hours to kill, aren't turned off by lack of depth, and don't mind an excess of necessary grinding to finish the game, then Legend of the Rune Lords: The Quest for Runic Magia might be an Xbox Live Indie Game worth your $1.

Maybe.

But probably not, sadly.

Gameplay 4/10

On the positive side, your party automatically gets all their health and magic power refilled after each fight. Magic power also regenerates during a fight, allowing them to cast stronger spells as the fight progresses. Escaping from non-boss battles has a 100% success rate.

Even so, I give Legend of the Rune Lords the lowest gameplay score I can for a turn-based RPG that is not fundamentally broken. Why? Four reasons:

1) The turn-based combat system not just simple; it's mindless. There is nothing to equip other than runes to cast or learn spells. There are no items to use in battle. The Defend command is virtually pointless. All you'll do every battle is attack with your weapon, cast a single-target attack spell, or cast a single-target heal spell. There are three elements to attack with - fire, water, and earth - but your choice of elemental attack doesn't seem to make any difference. There is no strategy or depth whatsoever.

2) Even though you can flee with a 100% escape rate from non-boss battles, it means little because you will have to grind excessively to defeat the final boss. The game consists of five stages; in order to grind experience, you need to wander around a stage you've finished and kill monsters you run into. It might be possible to kill the final boss without grinding one's level from 12 to 15, but luck would have to be on your side because at lower levels he will randomly start KO'ing your party members before they get a turn to heal.

This is especially annoying because to even fight the final boss takes a few minutes of wandering around stage 5 (moving very, very slowly on the game screen - although the 100% escape rate is convenient here). If you die, you're kicked back to your last save, and the game only saves after you finish a stage.

3) Legend of the Rune Lords is very short - it should take no more than 2-3 hours to beat, possibly less. Normally I wouldn't hold this against a $1 game, but when half of that 2-3 hours is level grinding to beat the final boss, it gets irksome.

4) Legend of the Rune Lords is buggy. The game crashed on me three times during my 3 hour playthrough; each time I had to start from my last save. Since individual stages are short, you probably won't lose an excess of game time to crashes, but do make sure to save often while grinding levels. Note that you can only save the game by finishing a stage (or exiting the stage, if you're replaying a finished stage to grind).

Graphics 5/10

The graphics are from a bird's eye view; the characters look like they escaped from the old Gauntlet games. Not that terrible to look at, and really one shouldn't expect much for $1, but some character portraits would have been nice at least.

Sound/Music 5/10

Nothing memorable here, but not painful to listen to either.

Story 7/10

Legend of the Rune Lord's only saving grace, and that is pushing it. You play two mercenaries who have been hired by a mysterious stranger to obtain the Runic Magia, and they start by tracking their prize to a goblin camp. There is no complex drama here; just a little tongue-in-cheek humor, with a few clever in-jokes for RPG fans. The 7/10 ("average") rating is by $1 Indie Game standards. You might get a few chuckles out of the story, though.

Summary

Is Legend of the Rune Lords worth your $1?

Meh. Most people wouldn't (or shouldn't) expect much for $1, but Breath of Death VII: The Beginning is also a $1 Indie Game RPG that is vastly superior to Legend of the Rune Lords in every conceivable way - better storytelling, better combat system, better graphics, better music, more replayability, etc. So Legend of the Rune Lords really has no excuse.

Legend of the Rune Lords might still be worth your $1 - if you can tolerate the required grinding, if you have the patience to deal with periodic crashes, if a zero-depth battle system doesn't deter you...

...in other words, if you're one of the rarest of a rare breed: a cheap bastard turn-based RPG addict. Welcome to the tiny, tiny club.


Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 08/25/10

Game Release: Legend of the Rune Lords: The Quest for Runic Magia (US, 06/10/10)

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