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Elven Legacy Early Impressions

Some initial thoughts from Dave's first day with this Russian developed TBS for the PC.

A game with airships is never all-bad.
I love a girl -- cough -- I mean game that talks to me in Russian. That's just what I got on the first tutorial movie from Russian developer 1C:Ino-Co's new turn-based strategy game Elven Legacy which hit Steam yesterday at the value price of $29.99. As previously mentioned in my impressions on Drakensang I have a soft spot for games coming out of Europe or Russia with very little fanfare. I've also now decided it's my responsibility to alert PC gamers with curious credit cards on the quality of the ever growing amount of smaller releases that hit Steam in these lean months of the year.

Elven Legacy is essentially a fantasy themed, turn-based strategy game that has very old-school intentions in its game design. That's either a plus or minus for you based on your history with the genre. It is not a HoMM clone, so if you're hoping for a sleeper hit along the lines of King's Bounty (also published by 1C) I'd look elsewhere. Elven Legacy focuses squarely on the combat aspect of TBS games and plays more like a fantasy-tinged version of Panzer General, complete with a hex-based grid for movement. Although you navigate on a world map, there's no collection of resources or army management to speak of. Troops are requisitioned simply by buying them. Money, which is gained by pillaging enemy towns,  is the only resource in the game. For me that's a positive, since the resource and city management of these type of games usually bogs me down a bit.

The hammy story is delivery with in-engine cutscenes.
There is a story in Elven Legacy and thankfully it is not delivered in Russian like the tutorials. There are three parts to the main campaign with Elven, Orc and Human chapters that play out in a linear fashion on a large world map. Sometimes you're given the choice between several paths as you make your way across the map, but I didn't notice any major consequences to my decisions over my first 4 hours of gameplay. The story is pretty hammy, with terrible voice acting and lots of pop-up talking-heads dialogue during missions but it's too early to make a call on the overall story-arc at the moment. I'm currently still making my way through the Elven missions and its got the usual cliches of Elven superiority and distrust towards humans. The main Elven heroes do seem a little more evil then I'd normally expect in a fantasy world, with a gestapo-like tendencies when it comes to dealing with other races.

Elven Legacy's main focus though is on the combat and what's there is a solid, if extremely difficult experience. Even on easy you'll find yourself reloading some of the early missions till you get the hang of things. There's not a whole lot of unit to unit healing in the game, at least from the time I've spent with it, instead units regain their strength by resting instead of attacking. Since you can only rest a unit as long as it hasn't moved during a turn you'll often end up with front line troops that get pinned in lines of fire and useless because you need to rest them to keep them alive. Since enemy units can also rest in-between moves it's important to finish off weaker units when you have the chance. This leads you to some make some dangerous gambits when attacking weaker units after they've retreated near friends. Since you'll spend a decent part of the game attacking well-defended strongholds this can get very risky and it's not uncommon to lose a fully healed unit in one move if you allow him to stray too far from the flock.

A world map leads the way between missions.
As old-school as the combat feels it's the games visuals that will really take you back in time. Elven Legacy is not a pretty game. While the units are fairly varied, I wouldn't feel guilty commenting that the game looks like it came out five years ago. The sound in the game is equally limited. Although there is a large amount of voice-work in the game, it's horrible on the whole and often hampered by a bug where the dialogue will run into itself, cutting off the final words from the previous speech. Swoosh sounds from arrows flying in the sky sound like something you invented to give reality to your action-figures in your childhood. If dated visuals and sound bother you in any way, I can safely urge you away from Elven Legacy. 

Although I've only put one long night into the game so far I feel safe in saying I'd only recommend Elven Legacy to the most stalwart and hungry turn-based-strategy fans. With its difficulty and decidedly blast-from-the-past combat model the game seems pigeon-holed to a specific audience of gamers. You masochist, used to play table-top gamers know who you are. For everyone else though, I'd look elsewhere; possibly to last year's King's Bounty, which is a much more consistent experience.
Dave Snider on Google+
30 Comments
Posted by snide
A game with airships is never all-bad.
I love a girl -- cough -- I mean game that talks to me in Russian. That's just what I got on the first tutorial movie from Russian developer 1C:Ino-Co's new turn-based strategy game Elven Legacy which hit Steam yesterday at the value price of $29.99. As previously mentioned in my impressions on Drakensang I have a soft spot for games coming out of Europe or Russia with very little fanfare. I've also now decided it's my responsibility to alert PC gamers with curious credit cards on the quality of the ever growing amount of smaller releases that hit Steam in these lean months of the year.

Elven Legacy is essentially a fantasy themed, turn-based strategy game that has very old-school intentions in its game design. That's either a plus or minus for you based on your history with the genre. It is not a HoMM clone, so if you're hoping for a sleeper hit along the lines of King's Bounty (also published by 1C) I'd look elsewhere. Elven Legacy focuses squarely on the combat aspect of TBS games and plays more like a fantasy-tinged version of Panzer General, complete with a hex-based grid for movement. Although you navigate on a world map, there's no collection of resources or army management to speak of. Troops are requisitioned simply by buying them. Money, which is gained by pillaging enemy towns,  is the only resource in the game. For me that's a positive, since the resource and city management of these type of games usually bogs me down a bit.

The hammy story is delivery with in-engine cutscenes.
There is a story in Elven Legacy and thankfully it is not delivered in Russian like the tutorials. There are three parts to the main campaign with Elven, Orc and Human chapters that play out in a linear fashion on a large world map. Sometimes you're given the choice between several paths as you make your way across the map, but I didn't notice any major consequences to my decisions over my first 4 hours of gameplay. The story is pretty hammy, with terrible voice acting and lots of pop-up talking-heads dialogue during missions but it's too early to make a call on the overall story-arc at the moment. I'm currently still making my way through the Elven missions and its got the usual cliches of Elven superiority and distrust towards humans. The main Elven heroes do seem a little more evil then I'd normally expect in a fantasy world, with a gestapo-like tendencies when it comes to dealing with other races.

Elven Legacy's main focus though is on the combat and what's there is a solid, if extremely difficult experience. Even on easy you'll find yourself reloading some of the early missions till you get the hang of things. There's not a whole lot of unit to unit healing in the game, at least from the time I've spent with it, instead units regain their strength by resting instead of attacking. Since you can only rest a unit as long as it hasn't moved during a turn you'll often end up with front line troops that get pinned in lines of fire and useless because you need to rest them to keep them alive. Since enemy units can also rest in-between moves it's important to finish off weaker units when you have the chance. This leads you to some make some dangerous gambits when attacking weaker units after they've retreated near friends. Since you'll spend a decent part of the game attacking well-defended strongholds this can get very risky and it's not uncommon to lose a fully healed unit in one move if you allow him to stray too far from the flock.

A world map leads the way between missions.
As old-school as the combat feels it's the games visuals that will really take you back in time. Elven Legacy is not a pretty game. While the units are fairly varied, I wouldn't feel guilty commenting that the game looks like it came out five years ago. The sound in the game is equally limited. Although there is a large amount of voice-work in the game, it's horrible on the whole and often hampered by a bug where the dialogue will run into itself, cutting off the final words from the previous speech. Swoosh sounds from arrows flying in the sky sound like something you invented to give reality to your action-figures in your childhood. If dated visuals and sound bother you in any way, I can safely urge you away from Elven Legacy. 

Although I've only put one long night into the game so far I feel safe in saying I'd only recommend Elven Legacy to the most stalwart and hungry turn-based-strategy fans. With its difficulty and decidedly blast-from-the-past combat model the game seems pigeon-holed to a specific audience of gamers. You masochist, used to play table-top gamers know who you are. For everyone else though, I'd look elsewhere; possibly to last year's King's Bounty, which is a much more consistent experience.
Edited by ahoodedfigure

I loved HoMM but for some reason it didn't quite satisfy me.  I guess I'm waiting for a game that makes exploration the key to the game.  Maybe the new King's Bounty is a bit more about that?  The part that usually ruined HoMM for me was when the computer popped in, because it meant I had to switch from pure exploration and development to attrition and spell gathering.  But I'd still play it...

Posted by unangbangkay

It really is eastern Europe and Eurasia that seems to be keeping the fires burning for old-school PC development, isn't it? The Witcher, Drakensang, Men of War, and a bunch of other titles just come out and then blow the socks off of the few folks with enough courage to play a title that isn't backed up by a multimillion dollar hype engine.

Posted by Venatio

Well this looks interesting, I might get this

Posted by Jimbo

I quite like 1C (mainly for their WW2 RTS series), but they must have released this fantasy hex game 4 times already.  7.62 looks quite promising.

Posted by Sinatar

This is a sequel to 2007's Fantasy Wars, which was a spiritual successor to Fantasy General. Hence the Panzer General feel of the gameplay.

Posted by coonce

i like the loch-ness monster on the map.

Posted by Womble

THIS COMMENT IS BECAUSE DAVE IS SAD ON TWITTER!

(Cheer up, old chap!)

Edited by Hamz

As someone already said it seems lately that Europe is slowly inching itself into the limelight, ever so slightly, with some great games over the past few years that aren't relying on big budgets or high profile marketing campaigns. Being from the UK myself I try to keep tabs on Euro developement of games and I was hoping the game would be decent. But honestly I have to say I feel I wasted my money a little on this one, not as good as I had hoped / thought it would be after I put a good 2 or 3 hours into it.

Still it could be a lot worse and compared to say Empire Total War I can atleast run the game without bumping into some game breaking bug. Something way too many big budget AAA+ games are having these days. Old School PC > New School Console Port trash :P

Posted by LordAndrew

There really isn't much I can say. I read it though. I just didn't increase the thread's view counter. I prefer to read news through the news page, because sometimes that leads to the forum thread displaying a higher comment count than the view count. Which is fun to look at. :)

Edited by Death_Burnout

Haha i feel bad for Dave, but i promise this ain't just because of that.

I've seen this game around here and there, and it has always interested me.

There is defintely something to European (I'm also British myself) games with little fanfare that i like also, but...more often than not, the games themselves aren't well made...Drakensang on the other hand (from what i played) is well made. Then again, i can't stop playing Two Worlds...so it's not like i care.

I'm not entirely sure if i can get into a turn-based strategy game these days.

Posted by MattyFTM
LordAndrew said:
"There really isn't much I can say. I read it though. I just didn't increase the thread's view counter. I prefer to read news through the news page, because sometimes that leads to the forum thread displaying a higher comment count than the view count. Which is fun to look at. :)"
Is there really so little to say on the article that you've started talking about the humorous effects of there being a higher comment count than view count?

So on that note I will comment on the article:

I have a really weird obsession with Russia (I don't exactly know why, it's probably something to do with my socialist tendencies), so seeing a Russian game on GB is cool, and the game looks cool too. I might check it out. It's a while since I've played a decent turn based strategy too, so it's about time I revisited the genre. It sounds like the bugs are things I can put up with. The only thing that is putting me off is the difficulty curve you talk about, but what the hell, I'm up for a challenge.
Moderator Online
Posted by LordAndrew

Well, there's not much for me to say about a game like this. Not really my area of expertise or anything.
It's cool that them Russian developers are continuing to make cool stuff though. Even though this game is apparently not quite as cool as one would hope.

Posted by jarryd

sympathy comment for dave, keep it up we still read your stories even if we dont comment

Posted by albedos_shadow

Don't worry, Dave, we still love you!

Posted by Milkman

If it makes you feel any better, I read it through as soon as it was posted. Just didn't comment because turn-based strategy CRPGs....not my thing.

Edited by Lashe

Read this up last night and have been playing EL ever since -- thanks so much for drawing my attention to this one Dave! Although I blame you totally if I don't get round to starting Persona 4 today =P

So far I'm loving the Panzer General-like feel of the game; I think that was the first TBS game I can actually remember as a kid, and even though I would barely understand the game (despite my dad's many failed attemps at explaining the mechanics of the game to a 4 year old (1994 release, I believe?)) this feels so strangely nostalgic. Might purchase it for my dad as a gift on Steam before he comes home from work today and see if he digs it too!

Edit: a little continuity in my Panzer General comparison; I can appreciate the PG feel because I did revisit the game years later. Just to defend myself against any lingering pedants.

Posted by Bunnyman

I really enjoy getting insightful info from a RPG addict like Dave. I'm mentally preparing for my first real playthrough of Baldur's Gate, so the legacy of these elven fellows will just have to wait a bit.

Posted by Al3xand3r

King's Bounty is not a HoMM clone either... Wtf.

Posted by Media_Master

interesting

Posted by JackiJinx

So, it's basic units. Upgradeable? Any stat enhancers? And I know you said it's not an HoMM clone, but you said combat is on a hex based grid. Is the battle set-up similar to HoMM's gridbased battle screen or is it completely different?

Posted by ectoplasma

If you like turn based tactics/strategy games, Fantasy Wars was a blast. The only problem was, there were only 2 playable races, VERY FEW (5?) multiplayer maps, and no map editor. Elven Legacy takes most parts from Fantasy Wars, but introduces 2 new Races (Elves and Undead) and a map editor(!). What most of the Reviewers seem to miss is that this feature is one of the essentials why it warrents the 30$ pricetag. You basically upgrade from 2 to 4 races and get the map editor for infinite multiplayer maps. Now we just need to foster a multiplayer community somehow!

Posted by dufflehead

Overall I agree with your assessment but I didn't have any problem with the graphics not being AAA quality as only so many companies can afford that.  There were other elements, like the scrolling and audio, that made the game feel buggy enough to detract from the good gameplay, though.
 
The story felt a little forced in places and one ending was just confusing.  And, it was nice to see Elves depicted as something other than "ultimate good".
 
Also, there's a patch now for English tutorials.

Posted by FLStyle
@dufflehead said:
" Overall I agree with your assessment but I didn't have any problem with the graphics not being AAA quality as only so many companies can afford that.  There were other elements, like the scrolling and audio, that made the game feel buggy enough to detract from the good gameplay, though.  The story felt a little forced in places and one ending was just confusing.  And, it was nice to see Elves depicted as something other than "ultimate good". Also, there's a patch now for English tutorials. "
He probably knows that as this article that you've just bumped is 4 months old.
Posted by dufflehead
@FLStyle: So you're saying you keep up with games 4 months after you've played them?  And that the discussion about a game has a statute of limitations?  Glad to know that there is one more clique on the interwebs.  Thanks for the welcome.
Posted by FLStyle
@dufflehead said:
" @FLStyle: So you're saying you keep up with games 4 months after you've played them?  And that the discussion about a game has a statute of limitations?  Glad to know that there is one more clique on the interwebs.  Thanks for the welcome. "
Welcomes are for welcome threads, so don't give me any of that I'm new so I'm not accountable for my actions rubbish. And for the record, yes I do keep up with games 4 months after I've played them. When articles are so old that the person who wrote them has more than likely forgot about them, it's not worth bumping.
Posted by dufflehead
@FLStyle: Ah, yes, old games aren't worth talking about.  How could I have forgotten that rule?
Posted by FLStyle
@dufflehead: I said articles, not games. You're more than welcome to create your own thread on the subject in the game's forum.
Posted by dufflehead
@FLStyle: So this is your site?  As the comments aren't closed on this article (or any article, I'm guessing)  I'm more than welcome to leave a comment where I please.  And, thanks to you, I'm trying to find a way to remove my account.  Way to keep the community growing.  Have fun with your friends here.
Posted by FLStyle
@dufflehead: Whatever floats your boat, I've lost interest in you.