In a time where tactics games are being released on a steady rate on the Switch, it is both an era of great options and potential tedium time for SRPG fans. With Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia adding to this ever-expanding list, is this title one that strategy fans should take up?
The gameplay of Brigandine can be broken down into three phases: maintaining your troops and bases, attacking nearby bases, and then the actual battles if you choose to attack a base. You select one of six territories to play, and your goal is to conquer all of Runersia. The premise of the game is simple enough, but the strategy comes from choosing which bases to invade at what time, which units to focus on leveling up, and how best to defend your own bases should you go into a new territory with multiple enemy forces surrounding your base. Add all this to the fact that you are also battling against the other five territories during your playthrough, and it’s clear that Brigandine is rife with tactical options.
For those familiar with the fundamentals of SRPGs, the actual combat of Brigandine is very easy to grasp. Navigating across a hex grid, you control a group of Rune Knights and monsters with the goal of defeating your opponent in battle. You can choose to defeat all of the monsters before taking on the opposing Rune Knights, or you can direct your attention on the Rune Knights immediately if you want to quickly clear through a map. And if you are facing against the ruler of the territory you are invading, then clearing through that battle is even easier, as felling the ruler clears out both their associated monsters as well as any other units on the enemy’s side.
Of course, this also applies to your units as well, so you have to keep a close eye on the enemies units and make sure that you aren’t about to be surrounded and overwhelmed. The tide of battle can swiftly change if either you or your opponent find themselves losing Rune Knights at crucial moments.
Narrative And Aesthetics
The story for Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia has an interesting premise. Each territory has it’s own story and lore, which is spread throughout the game as the player takes control of more bases. However, due to the fact that the player can play as multiple rulers, the actual lore of each region can end up feeling more like a passing thought than an actual story progressing any sort of plot. Each character has their own interactions and dialogues, but ultimately that fell to the back of my mind after those moments are done, and only the main characters of each territory left a lasting impression, which tends to be the norm with RPGs with larger casts.
About halfway through conquering Runersia, a plot point starts to form involving a mysterious girl named Aurora. Just like with the lore and character interactions, the story involving her is interesting, but falls a bit flat. This can end up leaving the player feeling unsatisfied if they are looking for a more story-oriented experience.
The artwork of the game is absolutely gorgeous, especially the occasional animated cgi that appears after progress points in the game. With the lead artist Raita Kazama’s touch, most notable for his work on Xenoblade Chronicles X, each cutscene looks gorgeous, and the designs of the characters and monsters have a distinct look to them. Paired with the musical score by Tenpai Sato, the nostalgic atmosphere brings me back to a time of playing older SRPGs, but without making the game feel dated.
Within combat, the game switches from its 2D art style for 3D models, which some might find to be a downgrade compared to the rest of the art of the game. Given the vast amount of units that can be used, the models still look fine, if not a bit too tiny to really appreciate any of their detail. The maps are a similar deal, with not a great deal of detail being shown between different locations outside of general landscapes like bridges and trees.
Impressions and Conclusion
Overall, Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia offers a high amount of replayability with multiple territories, several game modes, and over 100 Rune Knights to use. Unfortunately, it drops the ball when it comes to drawing the entire game together with its story, which feels paper thin. More of the game’s focus is paid in the replayability and flow of the gameplay. If you’re looking for a game that you can sink a large amount of hours into with some classic strategy game challenge, then I would definitely say give this title a chance.