If the recent Switch demo of Matrix Software and publisher Happinet’s BRIGANDINE: The Legend of Runersia is any indication, this is going to a near-perfect entry in the genre for turn-based strategy fans who want a game with a ton of replay value. As noted in my previous look at the game, the developer really knows what they’re doing here. Everything here soars from gorgeous painterly art style, the optional step by step tutorial, the clear typeface and pretty solid English localization. Since many of us are still in stay at home zones, a game like this may make the month of June fly by because it’s got that “just one more mission” thing going for it.
Every element comes together in a game that’s clearly a labor of love for its developer and a return to the scene for a title that’s both accessible and daunting in its overall scope. While the demo had an introduction to a single character’s story and three “seasons” worth of play, the final game will contain six different characters all intent on gaining control of the land of Runersia for their own motives as the other five nations do their best to put an end to these efforts.
As I’m ancient enough to have played and still own SystemSoft’s still excellent 1991 Sega Genesis title Master of Monsters (which was initially released in 1988 in Japan), I’m thrilled to see Matrix has inspired by it and kept many things from that experience intact. The hex grid, ZOC (Zone Of Control) and Enclosure tactics, and more will all be familiar to some players, but new and engrossing to novice genre fans who’ve never heard of either title. The ability to zoom and adjust the camera a few ways is a nice modern touch, as are the hefty amount of story-based cinema, although they’re mostly presented as static illustrations with excellent Japanese voice acting.
The demo just feels right and with that set of step-by-step tutorials, a hefty learning curve is lessened somewhat as the demo walks you through its topics before letting you finish part of a battle on your own. In the main game, you get full control of one character, Prince Rubino, ruler of Norzaleo as he goes from playwright to troop commander after his father suddenly dies and enemy forces capture a nearby stronghold. You have to gather troops make up of assorted fantasy creatures and Rune Knights who lead them into battle, get them into chess-like combat and do your best at doing the worst to your foes.
The demo is set to Easy mode, but it’s not a total cakewalk if you go in and don’t grasp the basic mechanics. While the turn-based nature means you can spend as long as you like in combat, there’s an in-game clock that needs to be paid attention to. Enemy forces all plan and move while you do, so the game will be challenging if you can’t deal with a bit of tension as your bases are raided and you can’t defend them because you sent too many troops elsewhere. As noted earlier, the full game will ship with three difficulty modes and with six characters to choose from, there’s a lot of replay value coming your way this June.