Review | Elven Legacy: Magic
Format: PC | Genre: Turn Based Strategy | Publisher: Paradox Interactive | Developer: Ino-Co | Release Date: 05/12/2009 | RRP: £7.95
By Jennifer Allen
I prophesied that Elven Legacy: Magic would reduce grown men to tears if it continued to up the ante as far as difficulty was concerned. I was right. Somebody somewhere also said familiarity breeds contempt, and it certainly rings true when it comes to this game.
Yet again, Elven Legacy: Magic is a very similar game to the previous two expansion packs. Yet again, the only real difference is that it feels even harder than ever. So these words are all a bit pointless. Ultimately, it comes down this: did you enjoy Elven Legacy, and are you desperate for more hardcore battle? If the answer is yes, then you know what to do: go and download Magic.
If you’re sitting on the fence and rather uncertain as to whether you can face more, things get a little more complicated. It’s certainly more of the same, but maybe you had a perverse love of it in a way that you couldn’t quite pinpoint. In a world where mainstream games feel increasingly easier and more basic, there’s certainly a charm about a game that challenges you, punishing your every wrong move, sticking rigidly to its hardcore roots. When even the easy mode of the game can reduce you to thoughts of violence, you know it’s not meant to be for everyone. In the case of Elven Legacy: Magic, it gets even more awkward.
//The roots of suffering
Elven Legacy: Siege felt like a brief step forward in terms of giving you a vague chance of success. Sure it actually turned out to be the hardest game of them all, but there was the placebo effect of knowing that there was more than just your hero against the world. There were actually frequent opportunities to team up with a number of other units and unite against the world.
Magic returns to the roots: it’s you versus everything. I died repeatedly on the first mission. Yes, it seems I really am that bad at the Elven Legacy series, despite persevering through so many. Am I ashamed to admit it? Not really, because I maintain that it’s not strictly my fault. There’s no gentle introduction to get you all warmed up; this game assumes you’re hardcore to be here anyway.
There’s a lot on offer here, with new spells, 15 campaign missions and more tactical skills than before, but I suspect many will fall early on in this expansion pack, if not at the first hurdle. The wealth of spells on offer are certainly comprehensive, and careful implementation is the only way to succeed – try using them willy nilly and crossing your fingers, which always seems to work more often than not in more mainstream titles, and you’ll not know what hit you.
Ah, that old bastion of the gaming world: the niche game. As awkward as it may sound, it sums up Elven Legacy: Magic perfectly, as this is clearly the path it’s taken. As the final part of the three expansion packs, it knows that the only people who will have lasted this far are the hardened few: the ones who live, eat and breathe hex-based strategy games. This time around, it really doesn’t hold back. But it does reward those who know what they’re doing, right down to the addition of a bonus mission that unveils continuing storylines of the heroes of both Elven Legacy and Ino-Co’s earlier strategy game, Fantasy Wars. It’s a nice feature to see, one I’m sure fans will enjoy.
Essentially, Elven Legacy: Magic is no different from, nor any better or worse than, its earlier cohorts. It may provide new missions and skills, but it’s still the same game at its core. It’s an extremely unforgiving and harsh strategy game that equal numbers will adore and hate. It won’t convert naysayers nor will it annoy fans; it’s straight-down-the-middle adequate while clearly designed with a certain niche market in mind. However, after many hours spent with the Elven Legacy games, I’m not entirely convinced I can ever face another hex-based strategy game again. At least, not until my intensive therapy course is over with.