Initial release date: February 7, 2019
Genre: Tactical role-playing game
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: NIS America, Inc., Kadokawa Games, Ltd., Nippon Ichi Software
Thank you NIS America for the review copy of Langrisser I & II for PlayStation 4, we truly appreciate your kindness and the opportunity to write this review!
As a JRPG fan, I’m pretty savvy to the more popular series in this sub-genre of gaming, but I didn’t know much if anything about the Langrisser franchise. I have heard mention of it here and there, but never took a deep look as it wasn’t one of the more famous ones back in the older console days. Still, I was excited to try it out and was happy that it’s a TRPG (Tactical Role-Playing Game) akin to the recent favorite, Fire Emblem. You can play either part 1 or part 2, and there are several updated features to this remastered version that I will go into.
Langrisser I & II have similar storylines focusing on kingdoms at war with each other. You play part I as Ledin, a young man who seeks revenge against those who attacked his father, the king, and his nation. The legendary sword Langrisser, which has the power to revive evil monsters, was also stolen, though what the true plot behind all of this is a mystery that Ledin and his friends must discover. Langrisser II is lead by Elwin, a fighter who is caught in the middle of a war between evil creatures, the Descendants of Light, and the Rayguard Empire. They are battling for the Langrisser, as well as another sword called Alhazard. As you continue the story, you make decisions that affect the plot and change your progression and interactions.
The story is different but similar in both games, as the dialogue is bland and didn’t interest me. The enemies are bad because…they are evil (cue maniacal laughter)! The main protagonist is a goody-two-shoes, always fighting for justice and doing no wrong. New party members join your cause just because you happen to be walking in the same direction, or they have nothing else to do. Sadly, the story was not the highlight which is what I am always looking for in any RPG to be entertaining.
Gameplay: Best of Both Worlds
If the story is lacking, the gameplay makes up for it. Langrisser features a neat option: the ability to switch between the original retro graphics and music to the new ones, which I wish more games would allow. I appreciated being able to see how the original game sounded and looked, just for fun and to compare. I am a fan of old-school gaming tunes, so it was nice to hear the original tracks.
The gameplay itself not that complicated, but that’s not a criticism: I liked it, actually. Some games have so much going on, you don’t even know what to do. You control the main unit (Ledin, for example) and choose what other units will follow him—generally 4-6. When you move that character, the units follow you and support you by attacking surrounding enemies.
You move along the terrain in blocks, with different characters able to move further than others. Once you come near an enemy, you can attack, use magic, or just avoid them. Being careful with your HP is important, as attacking allows the enemy to counter, so there is some tactic involved.
At first, I was moving everyone, one by one, until I realized the game moves the secondary soldiers (duh!). Each character has strengths and weaknesses, but my suggestion is to always upgrade their armor/weapons before battle to be prepared. There’s a feature where you can update characters classes, which improves all their stats, but you only receive the points needed after completing a battle, so keep an eye on that! It’s very helpful, especially in the later scenarios.
My main gripe with the gameplay is that it’s the same in both games. You do the same thing in virtually very fight, moving forward and either reaching an area in the map or defeating the main enemy. I would have liked a little more variety, maybe a deeper strategy on how to win instead of just pushing your way through, which is often what you have to do. So while the simplicity of gameplay is fun, a wee bit more complexity or additional features would have been even better.
The artwork is superb, as are the voiceovers which are in English or Japanese. You can switch between them—both the voices and artwork. I liked listening to both languages; both are done well so it helped me connect more with the characters.
I like trying out games that I am not very familiar with since they are new experiences that broaden my tastes in gaming. Langrisser I & II accomplished that, since the only TRPG I can remember playing was Final Fantasy Tactics (the demo and watching others play) and Bahamut Lagoon as a ROM long time ago (shh! don’t tell anyone).
The fight of good vs evil is the main focus, as it is in most fiction—game or otherwise. Even if that’s a bit cheesy, standing up for what is right just because it’s biblical and what God calls us as Christians to do. So for that, I give the plot some bonus points!
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and please the widow’s cause,” Isaiah 1:17
Ultimately, the developers did a fantastic job with remastering the games, but it just felt like it was lacking a little more. It does get more challenging as you progress (doesn’t every game?), and I do recommend it to fans of strategy games. If that’s you, pick this one up!
Give it a try, and let us know what you thought in the comments!