Release Date: April 20, 2020
Rating: E (Everyone)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch and PC (Steam)
A copy of this game was provided by Pineapple Works.
What’s It About?
Legends of Amberland, created by developer Silver Lemur Games, is a lovingly crafted ode to the 90’s era of Western RPGs. Featuring a colorful pixel art-style, fun gameplay mechanics, and a charming sense of humor, this game will have you exploring an imaginative world full of magic, monsters, and adventure!
There is plenty to love about this game. To start with, let’s talk about the art-style. Pixel art is a common trend among indie games nowadays, but Legends of Amberland utilizes it in a way that isn’t seen very often anymore. Exploration actually takes place entirely in first-person, and although enemies and environmental objects are portrayed as 2D sprites, the rest of the world is designed in a pseudo-3D fashion. It’s a really unique look that works perfectly for this type of game; “simple, yet effective’ is the best way of describing it.
How is the gameplay, though? Legends of Amberland is a uniquely retro title that hearkens back to an oft-forgotten subgenre of RPGs. If you’ve ever enjoyed games like Might and Magic or Wizardry, this one will be right up your alley. The game begins by letting you create your party of seven heroes; this includes choosing their race and class from a large pool of options, and allocating their stat points. Each class brings its own unique skills and benefits to the party, and each one feels useful. There’s quite a lot of depth here, and you’re given a lot of freedom to customize your party as you see fit. However, if you’re not the type who enjoys micro-managing every stat, then fear not, because there’s also an option to generate your party automatically.
Pretty nifty, right? Once you set out on your quest, you’ll explore the open world, engage in turn-based combat with all manner of enemies, and complete quests for the various characters you come across. Whether you’re plundering a labyrinthine cave in search of treasure, or battling your way through a snake-infested swamp, there are always new discoveries to be made around every corner. This game nails the feeling of adventure in an unknown world.
While being an open-world RPG for the most part, Legends of Amberland is also equal parts a dungeon-crawler. Dungeons are present in every area of the world, just waiting for a band of daring adventurers to venture into their depths. The feeling of stumbling upon a new one and discovering the traps and treasures dwelling within was one of my favorite aspects of the game. Be prepared for combat before entering them, though, because these dungeons are usually where the really tough enemies are found.
Even though Legends of Amberland pays homage to an older era of gaming, it makes an effort to trim away some of the baggage and inconveniences associated with games of that time. Minor inclusions such as an autosave feature, touchscreen support, a handy compendium to keep track of your quests, and convenient button-mappings all add up to improve the overall accessibility of the game.
It’s also important to mention just how charming Legends of Amberland is as well. The game tells a simplistic, fairy tale-esque story with plenty of fun, whimsical moments. I genuinely laughed out loud at some of the game’s dialogue and flavor-text. The writing is witty and humorous, and although there are serious moments, the game never takes itself TOO seriously.
While I mostly enjoyed my time with the game, I did experience some moments of frustration here and there, most of which stemmed from the game’s difficulty. There were times where I would be progressing through a dungeon with no issues, only to be met with a much more powerful enemy that I was woefully unprepared for. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to flee from encounters you’re not ready for, but this still made me call the game’s balancing into question. This wasn’t a major problem by any means, and it wasn’t something that occurred very often, but it still bears mentioning.
The only major complaint I had with Legends of Amberland was the music. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of the tracks in the game, but my main problem was with the overall diversity of the soundtrack. Music is a pretty big deal for me in games; a good soundtrack will go a long way in improving my overall enjoyment of any title. Amberland‘s offerings left a bit to be desired, though, with too much repetition and not enough variety. It could be argued that this game was going for a more “atmospheric” approach to its music and sound design, and that’s certainly a valid argument. I simply would have preferred a bit more diversity to keep things interesting, such as some more melodic pieces.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with Legends of Amberland; it was an enjoyable foray into a type of game that I don’t have a lot of experience with. It’s very clear that this game was developed with a lot of love and passion, and that alone makes it worth picking up. If you’re a fan of first-person RPG’s, dungeon crawlers, or retro games in general, give Legends of Amberland a shot! There’s a little something here for everyone to enjoy.