Sword Legacy: Omen
We've seen a resurgence of isometric RPGs in the last few years, such as Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity and Larian Studios' Divinity: Original Sin series. Sword Legacy: Omen is the newest to join this trend, which blends a unique art style with tactical, turn-based gameplay.
Sword Legacy: Omen is an RPG set in Broken Britannia, a realm that the developers describe as "candlepunk," where futuristic technology and medieval aesthetics meet. In the story, this is mostly represented through how alchemy and science are used to make technologically advanced machinery. The plot is also a reimagining of the King Arthur mythos, where a group of misfits embark on a journey to find the long lost sword Excalibur. You play as Uther, the leader of your party, who is accompanied by seven companions. However, you can only bring four at at a time with you.
Gameplay feels similar to the likes of XCOM and The Banner Saga, where you only have so many moves. Strategy is entwined with how you plan out these maneuvers. When it's your turn, the ground lights up into squares, showing you possible paths for different characters. Certain moves can benefit the whole party, such as the protagonist's melee attack giving all allies a willpower point, which can be used to gain more AP. Other moves, such as moving too quickly toward foes instead of letting them come to you, can put you in harm's way.
Members of your party have mostly archetypal skills, such as a thief being able to pick locks so you can loot treasure and a mage with basic magical powers. The mage, named Merlin, can shoot fireballs toward barrels which creates explosions that hurt everyone in proximity. This is just one example of how you can use the environment to your advantage, adding a layer of fun. Your party members have over 70 skills to unlock, which includes powers like creating a decoy or teleporting.
In Sword Legacy: Omen, your party members don't respawn after battle. If they collapse, they only return once you've completed the map, which can make for challenging encounters. This proved difficult when I had a downed party member during a tough fight. Much of Sword Legacy: Omen's gameplay doesn't feel that distinct or different, instead feeling similar to most other isometric RPGs I've played. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but hopefully its story and world can help it stand out.
During the demo I played, it was difficult to get a good sense of the story, since it included some placeholder dialogue and voice acting. Some of these were still written or voiced in Portuguese, since the development team is from Brazil. With isometric RPGs in particular, I've always enjoyed seeing how my choices play out or how deep mechanics can go when it comes to managing your party's skillsets. This felt like a missing component in Sword Legacy: Omen, where I didn't find story and gameplay affected one another in a compelling way.
Probably the most unique quality of Sword Legacy: Omen is its art style, which blends vibrant, colorful environments with a cartoonish aesthetic. Characters have a glossy, painted look to them, as if they came out of a graphic novel. When they speak, dialogue appears in comic book speech bubbles. These visuals really drew me in, making the world seem enticing and fun to explore. Originally, the game had a more Disney-like aesthetic, but the team opted for a darker and more gothic tone as development went on.
Sword Legacy: Omen has some interesting themes, but as it stands, the gameplay lacks innovation and with placeholder dialogue here and there, it's hard to tell how strong a story it tells. With its candlepunk world and an original take on the classic King Arthur mythos, there's still promise that Sword Legacy: Omen can impress as the team continues to tinker. We'll see when it releases in early 2018 for PC.