Elven Legacy is a tactical strategy game set in a fairly typical fantasy world, where all of the races act like you’d expect. You know what I mean -- the elves are superior and aloof, the humans are aggressive and greedy, the dwarves are tinkerers with Scottish accents, and so forth. Elven Legacy is also the sequel to 2008’s Fantasy Wars, a game unplayed by me, but which, so far as I can tell, developer Ino-Co didn’t stray too far from when creating their new game. So Elven Legacy doesn’t get any points for originality, but is it any fun to play? Keep reading to find out.
Elven Legacy is a game in the mold of Warlords and Heroes of Might and Magic. That is, you control an army of fantasy creatures, and you guide them through turn-based combat. There isn’t an economy to worry about, and it doesn’t really matter if you control towns. You just have to focus on your army, and make sure that you fight your battles as efficiently as possible, because your troops are your most precious commodity.
As the game opens up, you learn that the humans once stole some power from the elves, dealing the elves a near mortal blow. For the campaign included with the game, you control the elves as they strive to take that power back. The elves have units like wardens (defensive units), hunters (ranged units), skyships (scouts and bombardiers), and dragons (flying melee units). They also get some hero units on their side, and if the main hero Lord Sagittel dies, then you fail the mission you’re playing.
The mechanics of the game are interesting. Each stack of units takes up a grid square (well, hexagon) in the world map, and during each turn the stack can move and attack. Some units also gain access to spells, which can be cast instead of attacking. If a melee stack attacks another melee stack, then the opponent stack gets to retaliate. Moreover, if an enemy ranged stack is next to the opponent stack, then it gets to retaliate, too, and so how you position your stacks is important.
When a stack is damaged, the units in the stack are either wounded or killed. Wounded units can be healed if the stack rests for its turn (which means it can’t move or attack), but killed units can only be brought back through conscription, which costs gold. Since you only gain gold from capturing towns and completing missions, you have to be very careful with your stacks, because chances are you’ll only be able to afford to conscript one or two of them during a mission.
The campaign that comes with Elven Legacy consists of 10 missions. You control the elves in all of these missions, and your army gains power and is carried along with you as you progress. In a couple of places, the campaign branches, giving you options for how you want to proceed, and if you play some of missions well enough, then you unlock bonus missions that can give your army special artifacts to use (heroes can carry three artifacts, while regular stacks can only carry one). The elves fight all of the other races during the campaign, including the elves, and so the campaign sort of acts like a tour of what the game has available.
Unfortunately, I found the campaign to be a little tedious. All of the missions are timed, you’re always wildly outnumbered, and because your army is saved with you, you have to be very careful during the battles to make sure that none of your stacks gets eliminated (because you probably won’t be able to afford to replace them, or you won’t have time to build a new stack up). That means you have to do a lot of saving and loading during each mission, which isn’t a lot of fun. I also thought it was a little boring that there isn’t anything to manage other than your army, and that the mission maps aren’t very large. The missions are mostly just fixed skirmishes rather than having any range or scope.
Besides the campaign, Elven Legacy also comes with some solo missions and multiplayer maps. However, the solo missions I played were all but impossible to complete, and multiplayer wasn’t working in the version of the game I had, although it presumably will be in the final release. Actually, I’m hoping that the review code I received isn’t particularly close to the final release, because it was filled with bugs and sloppiness, from dialogue issues (including some of the dialogue being in a language I didn’t recognize) to dumb enemies to frequent crashes.
It’s possible that Elven Legacy is a game that you’ll just have to work with. From what I understand, Ino-Co is going to add more campaigns and missions in the future, and so possibly the game will eventually work well and be worthwhile if you stick with it. But in the meantime, I wouldn’t really recommend Elven Legacy unless it receives a bargain bin price and you really like tactical strategy games.