Customization options make 'Legasista' one of a kind

jkegley@herald-leader.comSeptember 20, 2012 



    About: A young man named Alto searches an ancient fortress for a cure to his sister's curse. Recruit or create dozens of characters and level them up to ridiculous proportions.

    Players: Single-player

    Pros: Unprecedented customization options let you create any character you can imagine. The game features an epic soundtrack and a story that will keep you reasonably interested on your quest to grow stronger.

    Cons: The game is pricey compared to most downloadable PS3 titles. The dungeon environments are bland and repetitive.

    Availability and price: $29.99 for PS3 on PlayStation Network

    ESRB rating: T

    Manifesto's rating: 8.5/10

    Metacritic rating: 6.7/10

Wouldn't it be cool if you were a playable character in a top-down dungeon crawler reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda? And your teammates were Batman and Boba Fett of Star Wars?

What if your character had a magical golden bow that fired cats instead of arrows? Or instead of swinging a sword, he bashed enemies with a guitar?

Welcome to my surreal experience with Legasista, a downloadable game exclusive to PlayStation 3.

Yes, there is a legitimate game here with established characters, a plot and everything. But in the 30 or so hours I've been playing Legasista, I've mostly ignored all that.

Instead, I've spent hours upon hours creating custom characters and weapons with the game's mind-blowing in-depth character creation tools.

When I say "character creation tools," I don't mean the standard "pick some facial features and hairstyles" systems in most modern games. Legasista grants you full access to its art assets, even letting you export characters' art files to a thumb drive so you can edit them on your PC or Mac.

The only limit is your imagination, and, to a lesser extent, your artistic ability.

Before I delve further into that, I suppose I should explain what Legasista is all about.

The main character in the game is Alto, a young boy whose sister has been turned into a crystal by some ancient technological magic doohickey.

Alto ventures to The Ivy Tower, a long-abandoned complex full of dungeons and monsters, to search for an ancient robotic being capable of breaking his sister's curse.

Gameplay takes place in the rail yard, a hub area at the base of the Ivy Tower where you may talk to characters and manage items. From there, you may enter dungeons, where you fight monsters, avoid traps and gain experience.

You view your characters and environments from a top-down perspective, similar to The Legend of Zelda, but the game places more emphasis on fast-paced fighting and role-playing elements, such as leveling up and looting gear. You may take a team of up to three characters into the dungeons, switching among them on the fly.

As you progress through the story and clear dungeons, you unlock more characters and options. About three hours into the game, I unlocked the ability to create and recruit custom teammates.

This was when the game went from good to great. Readers of my reviews know how much I love creating characters, and Legasista's customization options are unprecedented.

First, I used Microsoft Paint to draw a pixel-art version of myself, mostly as a test run to learn how to use the tools.

When I realized how much freedom I was given to design characters, I started thinking about what teammates I'd want backing me up if I were fighting monsters in real life. Batman came to mind, followed by Boba Fett. Also, Wolverine from the X-Men and Vegeta from the Dragon Ball Z cartoon I watched in my youth would be handy in a pinch.

So I did an Internet search for pixel-art drawings of those characters. I borrowed some art, created some of my own and before long I had a crudely drawn army of nerd icons helping me kill monsters and level up.

Artists and people who appreciate customizable games will love Legasista, but the game stands on its own even if you never touch the character editor. I enjoyed the game's charming art style, stellar music and fun characters.

There are some notable flaws, however. It's easy to get bored with the game's repetitive dungeon environments. Also, the game costs too much. Most downloadable games on PlayStation Network are $15; Legasista is $30, which is tough to swallow, even though Legasista has much more content than the average downloadable title.

Still, my complaints are far overshadowed by endless customization and replay value. People who like the idea of shooting cats at bad guys will be pleased.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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