Defense games are becoming more and more popular. They greatly appeal to players like me who enjoy a carefully calculated strategy but never cultivated the rapidly shifting attention needed for most RTS titles. And that’s the appeal of Legendary Wars, an entertaining romp through a fantasy world that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The story is a typical off-the-shelf model with a broken artifact your characters have to find and a wealth of monsters striving to defeat you. It’s enough of a plot to keep the pace of things flowing from one level to another and at times the characters are genuinely funny. Among the best laughs is the dialogue of a Gandalf-esque wizard with an owl perched on his head, the arrival of the unicorn named Spike and the continual return of one boss who seems to think more gym time is the best approach to victory.
Playing the game is extremely simple. You spend gems to recruit units and defend your castle. There are three lanes to defend and it’s crucial you make sure you don’t neglect one, though units can, of course, be swapped back and forth at will between different lanes. While you start off with only the basic swordsman and archer you recruit an assortment of characters as the game progresses including centaurs, golems and wood sprites. Most serve roughly similar functions and their basic attacks are either ranged or melee. The special abilities do differ, some are simply more powerful attacks while others give a ranged character a melee option and one even heals surrounding units. The game doesn’t always make these easy to employ though as you have to select an individual unit and it can be difficult to do so when your forces are massed together in a battle.
But the units aren’t quite all the same since some units cost more to deploy and have a higher cooldown. Naturally these are your heaviest hitters with powerful abilities and a deep pool of hitpoints. As you progress through the missions you’ll be awarded gems with which you can upgrade your units. Some missions will net you moonstones, which allow you to upgrade certain aspects of your castle or purchase a new tier of equipment for your units. The only thing that has kept me going back into Legendary Wars even after completing it is try to unlock all these legendary items, because each upgrade gives your unit a boost not only in abilities, but in style. With each new level they get a new, cooler appearance with fancier armor and weapons.
The game has an irreverent tone to it. The developers embraced the cartoon style of the game and took it one step further. The ubiquitous skeletons that low-level characters usually fight are called “Skellys”. Werewolves are labeled “Wolfys”. Even the elves and dwarves on your side are “Elfys’ and ‘Dwarfys”. Though the plot of the game is based on a “save the world from the forces of darkness” premise, it’s never dark enough or serious enough to clash with the lighthearted treatment.
Unfortunately, the game wears thin in the amount of challenge it offers. The majority of levels can be handled in the exact same manner: simply pile up enough defenders and send them forth to crush your opponents. Any real semblance of strategy goes out the window because there’s no limit to how many units you can amass. Most levels are a matter of pushing buttons until you’ve won. There are some levels that mix things up by giving you a limited number of gems or a specific character/creature to protect for example. There are also a few side-scrolling levels where you control one creature. Unfortunately these rarely present a significant challenge.
There were additional modes added to extend the gameplay but sadly they don’t add much beyond a subtle variation or two on battles you’ve already seen. Even the “endless wave” mode turns out to be less than promised. It’s simply one wave after another, occasionally interspersed by boss battles, rather than a single wave of endless. The normal waves are so simple I found I could complete them simply by spamming the two cheapest units and sending them marching out from the very first moment.
But despite its lack of difficulty, Legendary Wars still has a few bright points; the animation and style is great and leveling up your units is more enjoyable than you might expect.
The game does have an in-game store, but it was quite some time before I stumbled upon it. You can buy packages of gems and moonstones, but unless you’re dead set on upgrading your characters as fast as possible, there’s no real reason to do so. It might be a grind to churn through enough of the endless mode to get enough resources to upgrade everything, but it’s the sort of thing you can accomplish while watching a movie. So if you’re really dead-set on seeing everything the game has to offer, it’s easy to do so without opening your wallet again.
Legendary Wars has a lot of heart, but not a lot of brains. Charming visuals and the occasional laugh can’t really make up for the fact that its utter simplicity strips out a lot of the fun.
Is it Hardcore?
No. It's too easy.
A complete lack of challenge devastates the potential of this cartoon fantasy romp.