REVIEW: Langrisser I & II

Apr
05

REVIEW: Langrisser I & II

A classic SRPG returns in a new Fashion!

Released: PS4, Switch, Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Strategy RPG
Developer: Chara-Ani
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: 10 March, 2020

Keeping it classic and adding more!

It’s been nearly 2 decades ago since Langrisser made its appearance on the Sega Megadrive/Genesis. Starting in 1991 with Langrisser: The Descendants of Light (also localized as Warsong) and ending in 1998 with Langrisser V: The End of Legend.
This RPG Series not only known for its story branching but also the artwork from the renowned artist Satoshi Urushihara (Plastic Little, Legend of Lemnear, and one of the Assistant Animator of the Record of Lodoss War OVA).
This remake of Langrisser 1 & 2 opts to give you a new option by Ryou Nagi known for Ar Tonelico and the remake of YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of This World. Besides, there are also extra story Artworks to accompany you.
Should it be Satoshi Urushihara or Ryou Nagi? The choice is yours to make, though only the latter has the extra Artworks.
Does the classic gameplay hold up even today?

Story

Langrisser 1

The beginning of the 5-part story of Langrisser starts with an invasion into protagonists Ledin’s home: Castle… While the king’s loyal vassals are holding the enemy back you have to escape to avenge this aggression at another time.
On the run, you meet allies of your family and together you start to reclaim your home quickly. The End? Not even close!
There’s much more behind all of this and it culminates ultimately in a story between good and evil.

Langrisser 2

The wandering swordsman Erwin takes up the protagonist’s role. Starting with an invasion into a village to abduct the princess of light, he saves her from their clutches and agrees to escort her to safety.
What is the reason behind this nefarious act? Which path will you follow?

Story Impression
Langrisser 1 & 2 have very compact stories which are why these story summaries are kept very brief to prevent any spoilers. Considering the age of the original games, there’s without a doubt a big difference to how storytelling is today. The story beats are kept short and to the point. Due to the focus on the main overarching plot, you should expect that it’s going to be wide rather than deep.
If you’re a fan of old-school short exposition then this should flare your interest up.

The Controls

As this is an old-school turn-based SRPG from the time that harkens back to the SEGA Genesis/Megadrive you can expect very simple controls accompanying the straightforward gameplay.
You only need the typical directions for general movement for moving your cursor around the map and 3 main buttons. Accept (X), Cancel (O) and marking your opponent’s attack and movement range (Square).
The latter has a limit on how many units you can mark at once but can re-apply as many times as you want. This is especially important when you’re deciding your next move.
The X-button also doubles as a menu button when you’re not clicking on a unit that opens nifty options such as Squad list, Text Log or ending your turn.

There’s one odd thing that sits between Controls and Gameplay talk are the optional automated actions. Each character can set a command. The options are Attack, Defend, Charge and Standby. I recommend putting all of it to standby otherwise, the AI will make some moves for you when they have their move left.
It is a rather baffling decision to have it at Attack as a standard when having full control over your units is paramount in laying out plans and executing them.
This leads to another point. All units have to “confirm” their moves. Even if you’re using the “End Phase” option your cursor will jump around and automatically execute the pre-programmed action. Ergo, leading to longer wait times and you can imagine that this won’t be short once you have a lot of units on the map.

Be it Langrisser I or II, both are similar in gameplay except for II is much bigger.

The Gameplay

Just like many of its genre, there are two gameplay phases. One for preparation using menus and then continuing to the main event of turn-based SRPG. But before all of that comes the initiation of your Main Character.

Initiation by the Goddess of Light Lucilis

The goddess will ask you several questions that will determine your character’s class, stats, and skills. You can do them over as many times as you want until you find something that fits you.

Easy Start
If you’re a beginner or someone who likes things to be a little bit more fast-paced beginning you can opt the Easy Start function. It delivers extra Money, Items and Class Points (CP)

Intermission/Preparation
Here we go through the important options available to you.

Commanders

Unlock or change classes of your units. The further along the class tree the stronger you become. You can hire more mercenaries and types. These classes are unlocked by using your CP which you either get by levelling up or getting the MVP reward for a specific character for defeating the most enemies on the mission.
They also unlock active and passive skills. The latter requires you to equip them in one of the two available slots.
The last interesting option is items aka equipment. Each character has a slot for weapon, armor, and accessory and it’s exactly as the category implies.

Shop

It carries all three equipment types usually spread over two pages with weaker ones leaving the shop. When it comes to spending your gold it’s important to keep check of your finances because you still have to expend gold for the mercenaries when you’re starting the mission.
The gold income won’t withstand the expenses if you’re trying to go for the best every time but you can sell equipment to get some last-minute cash.
If I had to nitpick, it’d be the lack of options in how it presents the stat comparisons. You only get to see one stat at the time and have to manually cycle through each one of them. This is especially grating when you have equipment that affects multiple stats.

Story Tree
Because of Langrisser’s traditional branching story, there’s an additional option to go backwards and redo missions to move towards paths not trodden before and keep everything you have so far. There’s one catch! You can only go backward.
They’re also extra signs where those branching missions are but you have to find it out yourself how to reach them.

Deployment
With everything prepared we’re heading into the gameplay segment where you will spend hours upon hours. In case you have to stop while in a mission there’s no need to panic. It comes with a quick save option that leads your right where you left off!

Pre-Deployment
You can see both forces placements to decide on what kind of strategy you want to employ. You only have two options available. One is to switch places of your characters and the other one is hiring mercenaries. The first one is self-explanatory. The second one is a little bit more complex and requires some thinking ahead and calculating your needed forces because you can decide how many and which mercenaries you’re going to hire.
The better they are the more they cost. Aside from buying equipment, this is the most gold draining thing in the game and you don’t get your money back regardless of whether they survive or not.
If you’re not too invested in making decisions in who to hire there’s an auto option available for you. It’s doesn’t choose the best but seems rather about the price and performance ratio.

Classes: Strength and Weaknesses
3 basic classes are built in a cycle. Spear beats Cavalry, Cavalry beats Soldiers, and Soldiers beat Spear. Extras like Archers do well against airborne enemies but are extremely weak in close combat. Flying units boast with high mobility and are a perfect fit for scouting.
There’re a few more of these special cases which adds another layer of depth when it comes strategy.

Missions
The missions are kept at a basic level with Defeating all enemies, Defeat Enemy X, Go to place X, or Escort Y to X. The good news is that time limits are not a thing and therefore you can take your sweet time to finish each mission.

Items on the Map
Frequently there are about 2 items spread throughout the map. Any unit can pick it up but most of the time they are at rather uncomfortable places forcing you to go out of your way to get them. Gold and Equipment is what you can expect and in the grand scheme of things, these are important because there’s always a use for both of them.
How bad can it be? I lost a mission once because I sent my scout team to a remote location and got ambushed by enemy reinforcements. The good thing is, you get to keep the item even if you have lost.

Area of Command and Adjacent Mercenary Healing

The biggest factor that differentiates Langrisser from other SRPGs. Instead of every single unit being independent, all of your mercenaries get a status buff as long as they are in your Area of Command.
This, in turn, dictates how you’ll be playing the game as it’s recommended to keep your movement compact and in formation.
Another big reason to keep your units close to your commander is the fact that they get healed as long as they are right next to him. While the amount isn’t that much but Life is a rare commodity so you every bit helps. This mechanic also enables you to whittle down the enemy forces. For example, you can rotate your mercenaries on the frontline to tank the enemy attacks. The AI isn’t smart enough to do the same which makes it a rather easy but slow victory bringing strategy.

Magic
A Commander exclusive option. The further you go up the class tree the more magic will be available. The magic is one of the major game-changers within a battle. You can buff, debuff, heal or deal big AOE damage. It’s important to use them wisely due to MP restrictions. The only way to refill it is to get a level up which heals both HP and MP.
Fun fact, using any magic outside of attacks you get EXP points. Hence, you can cheese all your MP away before the end of your mission to grind some EXP.

Terrain
Another important factor to take into account. Depending on what kind of surface you’re moving on it can bring you advantages or disadvantages like increasing defense and reducing movement.
Using the Maps unique layout to your advantage will wield you many good results. Creating choking points to grind down your enemies is surely going to be a mainstay in your box of tricks.

Enemy AI
Enemy AI is more about patterns rather than being reactionary. This is neither good or bad but rather just part of the gameplay. By having static patterns across the enemies it enables you to plan with much more success.
These are some universal patterns I’ve seen. They like to focus on the attack on a single unit and won’t attack when they are at low health.

Gameplay Impression

Langrisser I & II offers refreshing simplicity to the SPRG genre making it easy for everybody to enjoy, especially with RNG kept to a minimum. You won’t see any % of missing attacks. The only uncertainty is the amount the damage you do but even then you get a good estimate of it when you’re leading your unit to an attack.
The squad mechanic is certainly the defining trait of Langrisser I & II and makes the gameplay unique. Whether it’s good or bad depends on your preferences as it does force you to move compactly with the whole squad.
Putting everything together, it’s nothing short of a solid package. Class changes are bringing many new things to the table such as Mercenary types, Magic and Skills that keep things fresh. Adding new enemies to the mix and you got some good variety along the way.
The biggest difficulty lies in resource management because if you’re too lavish with your gold you can find yourself in a bad spot. The Easy Start manages to mitigate this “issue” to a certain extent, making it a much more enjoyable start for less savvy players.
Then there’s the story branching. With multiple story paths available you can expect a lot of replayability leading to hours upon hours of playtime. 50 hours doesn’t sound far-fetched at all when you consider that each mission could last over an hour when you’re taking your time.

One single thing to lament is the long waiting time between each turn. The movement is fast but when you have a big amount of units on the map it piles up fast. Something like a skip or speed up function would help tremendously. You can skip battle animations at any time, magic animations can also be skipped to a certain degree but even then there’s a good chance that it could tire you out which is why playing it in short sessions might be the way to go. Unless you’re engrossed into it…

Graphics and Sound

Taking into account that Langrisser I & II is something between a Remake and Remaster. Everything is made to look smooth on the current resolutions.
It doesn’t change the underlying original structure but adds new things such as improved graphics and new character designs. The good news is that you can switch between both artists. Though, as mentioned before the new designs get extra story Artworks.
That’s not all, you can switch between old map graphics with a mix and match as well. The only thing that doesn’t change is the sprites.
The multiple options in visuals is a great example of doing it right. No one gets left behind.

The music shines with a remade soundtrack to modernize the original version and you can switch to the latter too! I found the soundtrack to be a real banger and the new soundtrack manages to bring the spirit of the original chiptunes to modern times.
Another good news is the fact that the game is fully voiced in Japanese. Even the synopsis!

Verdict

Langrisser I & II is a formidable return of the Langrisser series. It honours the original while adding more to it leading to the possibly best way to play Langrisser. The only thing that’s missing is the animated cutscenes from one of its other versions but in the grand scheme of things not that big of an issue.
Gameplay that has proven itself nearly over 2 decades ago has without a doubt aged well. The simplicity makes it simple to pick up and play and the sheer amount of content makes it a very good entry point into the traditional Turn-Based SRPG genre. The only big negative is that despite the variety it offers is that it could get stale because it is that long.
Overall, Langrisser I & II is one of the easiest Save to give out. Give the demo a shot!
I sincerely hope there’s more to come!

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