An unashamedly old school experience, Might and Magic X: Legacy is a fantasy game replete with classic grid based movement, a trusty squad of four would-be heroes (known as raiders) who are apparently cursed with severe separation anxiety, and a world where hostile combatants wait patiently for their turn to inflict bloody murder upon the opposition. In short, a much simpler and more civilised experience than the willy-nilly weapon waving shenanigans common in modern role playing games.
It’s to Limbic’s credit that the presentation of Legacy fits so well with the franchise’s established aesthetic, and even the decision to roll back the clock prior to the free movement found in the latter entries won't feel so out of place to anyone familiar with the series.
Instead, the issue is that the game is going to be daunting or off-putting for new players. For the uninitiated, each map is broken into uniform squares and the player’s squad of raiders will move one square when the corresponding direction key is pressed. It’s a simple system but apart from the dungeon centric Legend of Grimrock it hasn't been a common sight in PC games for around 20 years. There may be a very good reason for that.
When moving in the game's subterranean areas, the movement feels more natural, the automap feature provides a clean and effective on-screen document so that no corner will be left unlooted, and most importantly no unneeded backtracking will ever be required.
It’s when the raiders travel topside that the limitations of the system become most apparent. Travelling can become remarkably laborious, and the fact that the game clock and enemy AI appears to be tied to the movement of the party means that potential combat encounters can be seen well in advance, and in many cases cannot be avoided for that very reason.
The combat is also equal part victim and beneficiary of the game's doggedly traditional design. It’s very simple to pick up, with every action taking one turn, be it swinging a weapon, casting a spell, or quaffing a potion. The downside is that is it doesn’t allow for a lot of alternate strategies. Additionally movement is also included in the one-move rule, so once initiated, the party is locked in combat and it tends to be overly restrictive as a result.
For much of the game options for each character are thin on the ground, and there will be many occasions when the party becomes trapped between groups of enemies and ground into a crimson paste. These moments are frustrating and plague the game from beginning to end. The game's balance can be thrown off by the simple addition of a couple of extra monsters in the immediate area, and what might have have been an enjoyable combat-centric experience quickly becomes tiresome. There are the occasional battles where the scales are finely tuned and defeat or victory will be decided purely on how well the challenge is met by the player’s skill, and the choices made when leveling the party. It’s just a shame that these are the exception to the rule.
Even the deep character progression and customisation options available can’t do much to liven things up. Each of the 12 classes has its own unique skills, passive abilities, spells, and weapon specialties, and to the min-maxer or stats junkie these provide plenty of build options. It's easily one of the strongest aspects of the game, and it’s a shame that it’s not until the final act that these have much real impact on the flow of the game. Light as Might and Magic X: Legacy is on story, this might have done much to improve the game overall.
Tasked with delivering the game's MacGuffin to its appointed place, the party soon gets caught up in wider political power plays. It's all pedestrian, but the plot does tie the game together sufficiently and there is some entertaining dialog - not the least due to some unintentionally comedic voice acting.
Might and Magic X: Legacy hardly delights the senses. Visually, textures run from decent enough to appalling. Sound effects are for the most part well realised and provide some much needed atmosphere, but there are also random slow downs, and more than a few bugs, with missing in game descriptions, typos, and UI glitches. All these point to a game that could have done with a few more weeks of polish.
Might and Magic X: Legacy highlights more about why these mechanics were left in the past rather than what made them so magical in the first place. A lukewarm effort unlikely to engage traditionalists, and very likely to alienate newcomers.