Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Eric Ace 10.09.2020

Review for Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on Nintendo Switch

Every once in a while a game comes along that may not have the biggest of budget or the most famous of developer behind it, but a title like [i still shows the potential of indie studios to make something amazing. A spiritual sequel to a completely rare and relatively unknown game first on the original PlayStation, this mixes two different phases of preparation, and then large tactical battles. Replete with an amazing art style, the raw amount of varied stories deserves praise if nothing else.

Games typically come in three different types in regards to their quality: games that are purely average, with nothing that special about them one way or another, games that lack heart and quality, and lastly those that the quality surpasses expectations with the detail and heart put into them. Typically most fall into the first two. Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia falls squarely into the later.

Styling itself as a continent conquering simulator, this has players take the role of one of six different nations, having to organize their armies and leaders, and pick which direction to take their battles to eventually take over the whole continent. The gameplay is completely open-ended. This starts the same every time, with fixed positions at the start, from you take the reign of one of six countries, and get to the business of conquering. In this regard, it kind of plays like a video game version of Risk, except with monsters instead of dice. What is unique is how a story is still woven so strongly into this.

Screenshot for Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on Nintendo Switch

By far the biggest strength of Brigandine, is the completely amazing art direction and a surprisingly competent story that is actually six stories in one. As a quick introduction, there are six different nations, five of which have a magical item called a 'Brigandine,' which the nation unifies around. Each nation has a vastly different culture, from forest nomads, religious nations, wayward pirates, and justice seekers. The story deserves praise for both its subtlety, in terms of muted character stereotypes and tropes, which is refreshing in the RPG genre. Additionally, each nation truly feels different in terms of its story. It is a rare delight to see the story from different points of view. The justice seekers are justified in their war after being preemptively attacked, but what about when this location was actually taken because it was unoccupied, and there was a long-standing feud with the nation that felt forever shamed by them?

The art is another thing that deserves some more mention. Each of the characters are given a very high quality portrait, as well as many having what are more typical "anime" style pictures. Beyond that, this reviewer was pleasantly surprised by how often a story segment would stop, and the player would be treated to a very detailed artwork showing even random story elements like a character being a puppeteer to entertain children. As part of this, each character and monster has their own high quality art. Characters are giving a bio, and even side characters routinely engage in conversations in story elements.

Screenshot for Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on Nintendo Switch

One of the two major phases is that moment of preparation where players ready their armies. First they summon monsters, balancing between quality and quantity, and where to deploy them as location matters greatly. Any character and their monster entourage can move anywhere within your borders, but only those right on the border of the enemy can launch into battle. There is a very interesting element of offense and defense as bases are connected anywhere from one to three or four other locations, and thus lashing out one direction leaves it open from another. There is a staggering amount of things to do here, from equipping everyone, sending them on quests to find characters or gear, class change, and level up.

From a purely strategic point of view it is refreshing to have an asymmetric game that isn't concerned with being "fair" towards everyone. For example, the largest nation has a huge income, enormous army, and strong leaders, but sits in the middle of the map, and can be attacked from nearly everyone. A different nation is highly defensive, but has little attack options; the pirate nation has a huge offense, and can hit in a wide range of locations, and is a natural enemy of the largest nation.

Battles are where a long part of the gameplay is spent. These are fairly typical tactical fare of moving the hero and their monsters into range, and unleashing attacks. Each monster and hero behaves differently, but expect many of the typical roles such as slow "tanky" units, ranged ones, fragile but strong mages, and so on. Battles are actually pretty interesting, and despite how many units there are, it starts to become intuitive who does what faster than most games of this type.

Screenshot for Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on Nintendo Switch

Despite the previous gushing, there are some flaws which detract from what would be an amazing experience otherwise. First, the music, while good is repetitive - even a few hours in the same tunes start to grind. Secondly, in battle there needed to be a better way to differentiate who was on who's team such as more blatant colors or something else. Units tend to overlap each other which leads to a similar visual problem. The largest problem simply is how long battles take. A single battle can easily take one or two hours, and there with be a LOT of battles in a single campaign. Battles are actually fun and interesting, they just take way, way too long. A single unit almost always takes three to five hits minimum, and larger characters like dragons can take turns of beatings before dying.

Unfortunately as great as most of this game is, unless players absolutely love tactical battles, it is going to start grinding down the experience. If things were faster it would improve the experience greatly. There is so much great stuff here in terms of characters that are going to be lost because it takes too long to really want to go through the campaign more than once or twice. Rarely do you see this type of problem in a game, and that speaks to how entertaining and interesting the story is.

Brigandine really leaves a desire to be able to speed battles along, not because they are that bad, only long as touched on, but because the story is just so good. It is exceedingly interesting getting attached to one nation's characters and seeing everyone else as the "enemy," only to play it from their perspective next. The only major issue is how long a single battle takes, and that players are going to be in a lot of those, which slow down the pace of an otherwise outstanding experience.

Screenshot for Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Coming as a complete surprise, the quality of the art and characters deserves tremendous praise. A single story is interesting, avoiding typical RPG tropes, and engaging from start to finish, which makes it more insane is that there are six stories in this game. Frequently Brigandine will surprise you with moments of extra quality, like the frequency of the artwork screens depicting what's happening. The only thing holding back this title from being a truly phenomenal experience is the repetitive music, some small graphical issues battle-wise, and how much time the actual warfare can take.

Developer

Matrix Software

Publisher

Happinet

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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