There’s a time in the life of every hero that she must set out and meet her destiny. When might and magic are found at the edge of a blade and the land turns to turmoil the people turn to heroes who possess the courage to face that destiny. Scarlet Legacy is a fantasy MMORPG with strong Chinese wuxia elements published by GamesCampus—who have also published the recently released Asda 2: Evolution.
Built into the game is a story about a princess who has been spirited away and is in need of rescue. Princess Scarlet has passed into the hands of evildoers and it’s the destiny of the player to liberate her. The story is told mostly through a mechanic in game called the “magic mirror” that plays out a narrative with text and figures. At first it’s a little bit jarring, but after reading through several of these events, I started to get the hang of it.
This storyline, I suspect means to drive the narrative that the player will follow as they advance through the game.
For those so inclined, the Closed Beta Test starts today (Aug 4) and GameOgre is giving away Scarlet Legacy CBT keys.
Graphics and sound: Middle of the road but with a modern technology booster shot
The graphics of Scarlet Legacy won’t wow many gamers who have gotten used to the sleek and slick to-die-for rendering of pay-to-play MMORPGs and many modern new releases; however, it does have a particular charm that I’ve gotten used to seeing out of free-to-play MMOs. There’s a particular edge to the antialiasing that I’ve noticed in a lot of GamesCampus titles, but it’s nothing to turn this game down over. The lowered polycount also will end towards giving the game greater capabilities and higher frame rates on older PCs.
All that said, the developers and artists did an excellent job with the renderer they work with. The scenes in the beginning game are idyllic, the cottages rustic, and the bucolic forest hemmed in on all sides by suitably granite mountains and sloshing water. More so that there’s waterfalls everywhere and while the water itself doesn’t look very “realistic” it’s still obviously rapids of white-water frothing over rocks.
The character themselves look fairly intricate and have a large number of animations. In fact, that’s something that I noticed straightaway—amid the otherwise normal looking folk, here and there stood a man with a nimbus of orange light surrounding him or lightning crawling along his limbs like veins of electricity. Auras and effects appear to be pretty straightforward providing a strong base for special effects for actions.
When I tried out some of my attacks, I got to see those special effects in action. The animations and effects that follow them all show a great deal of care and attention—in fact, picking through a sequence of attacks generates an animation sequence of fluid grace followed by auras and particle effects and culminating in the defeat of my enemy.
There is a striking dynastic Chinese feel to the entire game. Reminding me of the wonders of mystic wire-fu feudal Chinese wuxia movies like Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and the like—and, in the case of the mystic, a little bit of Kung Fu Hustle.
With the kung fu jumping mechanics, however, the strange prevalence of invisible walls to cordon players from places the developers don’t want them to reach did bother me a little bit. However, I suspect if you play the game as presented and don’t stray too far off the beaten path you’ll not run into many invisible walls. Unlike me, I have to jump up to every surface I can possibly see and determine the proper gimmick to get atop the tallest building in town.
The music in the game is decidedly Chinese with a lot of string instruments being played in the background (in fact, you can find the band playing the music in the starter village under the waterfall.) Every now and again the characters speak out loud, I am not a student of the Chinese languages but it sounds reasonably authentic. That may change during localization; however, it seems to me that it adds to the genuine wuxia feel of the game to leave the voices in speaking Chinese.
The rest of the game feels a little bit sparse on sounds. I don’t recall the white-noise of rushing water or environmental effects (I might have had them off.) However, attacks and fighting made sounds appropriate to what I was doing and I had a great deal of fun beating up the same “King Chicken” over and over to test them out.
Gameplay: Standard MMORPG fare with the not-so-standard kung fu grip
The UI is fairly straightforward, although the game eschews the standard ‘I’ for inventory for ‘B’ for backpack. Otherwise it did a fairly good job of allowing me to intuitively tell where everything happened to be. And, for those who got stuck, there’s a gigantic help system available.
Mostly the game is played camera behind, mouselook, and WASD keys. Hot bar at the bottom to trigger spells, skills, and consumable items. A basic equipment system. I did notice as I played that there’s an enhancement system that allows players to make their equipment better with particular ingredients; although it takes a little bit of time for the enhancement to take effect.
There are four starting classes: Warrior, Monk, Assassin, Mystic. The warrior class comes with a spear and he’s your part-and-partial soldier trained in wushu who provides both a tank role and support for his friends. He’s essentially the vanguard of the party, with a taunt on his bar to draw enemy attention.
The monk seems to have a combination of direct-damage and healing abilities; they strike me as a sort of healer/debuff/damage character who act by stimulating acupuncture points on friends and foes.
The assassin seems to be a rogue-like character combining stealth and combo attacks; they deal their damage by getting in close and building up status effects and using those to enhance damage. They wield the elements to inflict heavy damage.
Finally, the mystic, my personal favorite, inflict damage with spells cast from musical instruments—they’re the basic mage class, inflicting damage at a distance. I started out with a zither (I think the Chinese version is called a gu-zheng) although the trainer informed me that mystics can use a variety of musical instruments including flutes.
Skills and spells are learned in a very standard fashion and can be leveled up with levels. They’re placed into a hot bar and act on a cool down timer. Some skills and spells also require other spells to be in effect to trigger meaning that the player must choose how they’re going to affect the opponent based on a plan. Attacks can also deliver multiple blows (which the UI counts as their delivered.) Although I’m uncertain of the mechanic that decides how many blows land on a target; it’s probably possible to increase that number through tactical combo decisions.
Conclusion: It’s got the feudal Chinese setting down and good state-of-the-game play mechanics
GamesCampus has delivered a well-rounded looking game with a fairly good looking presentation. The setting is exotic, contains workable NPCs, and there’s a lot of room to grow into. Aside from just a class system, enhancements, crafting, and the like there’s also events; although I didn’t get into any for lack of other players in the pre-CBT.
If you’re looking for a game to explore beautiful environments and spend some time in a dynastic Chinese setting that is trying to tell you a story as you play, this will probably captivate your attention. There’s a lot of detail, a number of things to do, and character can even jump fairly high (and even double-jump) so I foresee the possibility of either jumping puzzles or strange places only players who develop the full extent of their travel abilities can access.
Also, I found the oddest fellow who looked like his pants were on fire (in the liar, liar sort of way.) Turns out, his flaming pants, and the fact that his animation made him appear to be in extreme discomfort, were part of an in-game mount called “the flying matchstick.” So it’s good to know that the developers have one hell of a sense of humor.