Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy

Platform(s): PlayStation Vita
Genre: Action
Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: Arc System Works
Release Date: Dec. 2, 2014 (US), Q1 2015 (EU)

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


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PS Vita Review - 'Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy'

by Brian Dumlao on Jan. 14, 2015 @ 1:30 a.m. PST

In Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy you run around with three of your friends and punching and pile-driving the ever-loving spit out of anything that looks at you funny.

When you look at what's coming out for the Vita system, the only games from non-indie developers tend to be RPGs, especially the action RPGs that follow the Monster Hunter formula. Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy is another of these games, though it's specifically available as a downloadable-only title. It's from Arc System Works, a developer known mostly for fighting games like Guilty Gear and Blazblue.

Long ago, the world was a peace, and every human and animal lived in harmony. That peaceful time was shattered by alien being known as Decoders, who conquered the world in the blink of an eye. The remaining humans were sent into hiding on the outskirts of the world, hoping to live without getting caught and exterminated. After 12 years, a new material called the Hero Artes has been found. It could give the humans a fighting chance, and with the help of a ragtag bunch of heroes, the tide may turn in humanity's favor.

With a familiar tale come some familiar tropes. The Decoders may have nearly completed world domination, but they have a hidden agenda that the heroes won't know about until much later. Your supporting characters include an overly clingy childhood friend and a no-nonsense leader who found the new weapons. Your party consists of a brash youth, a masked wrestler deeply committed to honor, a stoic and emotionless girl, and a turncoat Decoder who's forever indebted to being rescued. The story becomes very predictable to those who have watched anime series before, and the game does nothing to change the storytelling formula. It works, but don't expect anything really gripping.

Like many action RPGs on the system, there's plenty of influence from the ever=popular Monster Hunter series. Your hub is a rather static town that has a shopkeeper for items and a blacksmith for weapons. All of your missions are picked up from a bulletin board, and those missions come with various rewards, depending on the difficulty level you've selected. The missions vary wildly between kill quota missions and item retrieval ones, and lots of story and side missions will keep you busy.

Beyond that basic structure, Fantasy Hero differs from the formula in a few ways. Instead of giving you the ability to create your own character, you pick from the four different heroes, all of whom differ in their class abilities. Mask the Shout, for example, is your big melee guy while Haul Keeling is your ranger. The game is also presented in a slanted top-down view similar to Diablo, with the combat system mimicking that as enemies try to gang up on you from all sides. There's also an abundance of loot to pick up, and while the selection isn't as extensive as one would hope (you never get any armor, for example), there's still plenty to pick up. One nice change is that you can automatically send any item you pick up to your treasure chest, freeing you from the burden of managing your inventory between missions.

The combination of these elements creates an RPG that, in many ways, is more focused on grinding and looting. Aside from picking up a variety of weapons to use, you can also dismantle them for parts to upgrade your current weapon. You can also infuse your weapons with different abilities, like defensive or attack bonuses. Though these weapons have upgrade limits, it gives them a little more depth. Your XP also gives your character plenty of bonuses, including increased magic abilities and elemental buffs. With the amount of side-quests in the game and their variation in difficulty, it's an impetus for constantly going out there to get stronger and get better items, so you can repeat the cycle again.

For the most part, this is a game that is really suited to being on a portable system goes. Stages are short enough that you can complete most quests in a few minutes. The story is also quite short, so it doesn't feel like it drags on. Loading and saving are rather quick, though not instantaneous, so moving from task to task is fast enough. The combat system is simple enough for pick up and play, so players don't have to fumble through manuals to find hidden abilities. Inventory is also shared between your different classes.

As with many of the action RPGs on the system, this title was really meant to be experienced in multiplayer. With up to four players fighting together, the gameplay flows nicely, thanks to the differences in classes and the short stages. What is detrimental to the multiplayer is its lack of online play, something that also plagues most action RPGs on the Vita. With the prospect of ad-hoc play still not catching on in North America, it can be rather tough to get everyone together for a few missions, though the relatively low price of the game helps to lower that entry barrier.

Other issues plague the title from a gameplay standpoint. While most of the levels are short, longer ones do exist but do so without any checkpoints or pause system. Any death results in you restarting at the beginning of the level, so the longer levels can be frustrating, even if you get to keep the items and XP you've accumulated.  Though the combat system is simple enough to grasp, it also means that it is devoid of depth. No matter how far you get and how much you power up your characters, your attacks remain rather stagnant. The camera is immobile, so you can't change the zoom level or rotation. This wouldn't be so bad if it didn't mean that you could easily walk into traps that are only visible from certain angles. The camera sometimes sticks to an area for far too long, causing some abrupt shifts and giving some enemies an unfair advantage.

Graphically, Fantasy Hero is good, if rather simple. The stages lack variety and interesting detail, but they're colorful, and the game moves at a steady 60 frames per second. The heroes look and animate fine, as do the enemies, though seeing giant chickens, gelatin molds, and flying hamburgers with boxing gloves doesn't invoke fear. Aside from the camera issues mentioned earlier, the presentation suffers from the way the game handles text. For some reason, the cut scenes have text with so little spacing between words that it can be a chore to discern what's being said. Other times, the menus feature text so small that it's difficult to read, especially at a glance. The latter can be mitigated if you're playing the game on a PlayStation TV, but that's not an excuse.

The sound feels rather unfocused. There's a medley of different music types used for each situation, and some feel like they don't fit the situation. There are lots of heavy guitar riffs that usually play when talking to your teammates at your hideout, and the tunes don't change according to the scene's mood. Music in the overworld tends to be bouncy, again ignoring the mood. Despite the varying styles, none of the tracks really stick with you. Elsewhere, the sound effects are clear enough, with some monsters giving off grunts that are more comedic than threatening. The voice work is fine, as it's all done in Japanese, though you should expect tropes to be in full effect here, including high-pitched girls and barely audible characters.

Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy is a decent action RPG but nothing more. The gameplay is flawed but works well enough to be fun, and the difference in play styles between the four characters gives the player some incentive to replay the game as a different class. The levels are short enough for portable play, but longer stages could've used some checkpoints, especially given the lack of a pause function in the game. The presentation is a bit sloppy, and the story doesn't stand out in the crowded genre. Fantasy Hero is a title that genre fans will want to check out — but not before playing some of the better ones on the system first.

Score: 6.0/10

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