Legend of Keepers | Review | Nintendo Switch

  • Developer: Goblinz Studio
  • Publisher: Goblinz Studio
  • Release Date: 29/04/2021
  • Price: £16.50 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by:
  • Version reviewed: 1.0.1

Introducing: Legend of Keepers Review

Every once in a while you come upon a game that intrigues you simply because of its generous mix’n’match of genres. Legend of Keepers is such a beast. It’s a roguelike dungeon defender management simulation with RPG elements and turn-based battles. Sounds like a mouthful, right?

You begin the game as Maug, a slaveholder of the centaur race. It’s your first day on the job working for the Dungeons Company and defending their dungeons is what you’ll do. But that’s not all. Being the boss monster of a dungeon also means that you are responsible for your company’s gear (traps) and employees (monsters). Don’t neglect the managerial aspect, or it’ll be your head that rolls!

Getting things done

A level of Legend of Keepers starts with a group of heroes on your doorstep. They’re about to intrude your turf and steal the company’s gold. To prevent that, you have to place your monsters and traps in the different rooms of the dungeon to mount a strong defence. Some rooms can house monsters, some traps, some natural disasters. One room will be left intentionally empty. You can use that to ambush the lowly heroes with a spell. The last room will be yours as you are the boss around here. The flow of rooms is always shown at the top of the screen.

It’s a good idea to have a look at the stats of your opponents first. That will tell you their strengths and weaknesses. Then, have a look at the roster of your employees and place them strategically. Use monsters with strong defenses against the heroes’ attacks and strong attacks against their weaknesses. The same goes for traps. No use in placing a poison trap against opponents immune to it. Done with preparations? Then off to battle we go!

The heroes will enter each room one after the other until they are wiped out or flee. While traps work automatically, battles are left for you to orchestrate. All battles are three versus three with the turn order displayed at the left side of the screen. When its your turn, simply select an attack to execute it. You can’t choose which opponent to attack as each attack has a fixed impact point: front, center, back or area. An area attack hits the whole group. Front, back and center hit the respective positions of your opponents. Different resistances together with various types of attacks (fire, ice, nature, air), status ailments (poison and bleeding among others) result in deep strategic combat. If the heroes are too strong or you made mistakes in the preparation phase, it’s your employees who will kick the bucket resulting in the adventures moving to the next room. When they reach the last one, you’ll have to dispose of them personally. Die here and you lose the level, persevere and you’ll live to guide your employees for another week.

The next few weeks will be spent taking care of your resources: blood, tears and gold, which you harvest from killing or driving away heroes. You’ll spend those to train your monsters or upgrade your traps. You can send out some of your monsters on quests, too. Perhaps a dubious merchant offers to sell you a fresh employee or trap. You might want to do desk work or have a party with your underlings. The choice of all the random occurrences during each week is yours. But pay attention! Monsters don’t like to be killed and resurrected repeatedly. If that happens too often, they’ll get a burnout. You have to let them rest in the garrison once in a while otherwise they won’t be able to fight for you. Monsters sent out on quests might not be back in time for the next group of invaders, forcing you to leave a dungeon’s room understaffed or even empty. Plan your resources, both breathing and not, carefully.

Stronger groups of adventurers will knock on your door in later weeks until, finally, a champion arrives. Get rid of that one and you’ll advance to the next level, die and be resurrected at your current level again. Each level you best will give you experience points which let you level up. You also earn talent points to spend on your talent tree. Get stronger and make mommy proud or die trying.

It’s bleeding pixels!

Blood, gore, wind, fire, monsters, heroes, dungeon backgrounds and everything else are in a beautiful pixel artstyle. It’s evocative of older games, times when we were sitting in front of old TVs trying to reach that elusive magic weapon or that greedy pot of gold. This time, however, we are the ones defending the riches. Speaking of riches, the environments are rich in detail, but not overflowingly so. All in all, the game is beautiful to look at.
The audio part is well fleshed out, too. There’s a bit of voice acting at times and the soundtrack has a nice metal vibe to it. The sound effects slash into the same cut. Overall a good package.

My eyes, my eyes! They burn!

So, all’s well in the dungeon’s management, right? Well, not quite. There is one tiny little detail that breaks the whole game for me: The fine print. Ok, there is a lot of information that needs to be presented on screen. Names, classes, attacks, resistances and much more need to be there. If you don’t have access to that very vital information, you can’t plan your strategy and as a result you will fail. Failing itself is part of the process of a roguelike, and you should of course fail when you make a mistake and learn from it, but you should not make mistakes because you can’t read the information. And that is exactly what happens with Legend of Keepers. The fonts are so tiny that I have to squint my eyes when playing docked. It’s worse playing handheld. Here, I have to squint and keep my eyes glued to the screen at a 10 cm distance. Any longer distance and the information is no longer readable.

Conclusion

Legend of Keepers presents itself as a nice addition to the genres it represents. It has a unique spin and is full of terrible puns and nasty humour. Still, all of that comes to naught as long as the UI doesn’t get an overhaul to make the game actually readable and therefore playable.

PROS

  • three different difficulty settings: easy, normal and hard
  • the experience you gain from a level depends on your difficulty setting
  • writing is full of nasty humour
  • pleasing artstyle

CONS

  • basically unplayable, because the fonts are too small to be read

Verdict
Legend of Keepers gets a lot of things right. The gameplay loop is interesting and challenging, but the choice of fonts turns the game into a problem child. What a shame!

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