July 22, 2014 8:45 AM | Lena LeRay
Legena: Union Tides is to be Grandpa Pixel's first game and the first game in a series of three. Development on the game began in 2013 when it was just a project to learn programming with, but it's grown into a high-quality project which aims to touch on mature themes while offering a robust gaming experience. If the demo (Windows) is any indication, the game is going to be a steal at the price of $5.
The story in Legena: Union Tides revolves around a young king and his close advisor, who get asked for help in defending a man known as Scholar from someone else called The Narrator. The Narrator is considered a myth, a bogeyman used to frighten children into obedience, but Scholar insists that The Narrator exists and helped the young king's father with an evil plot that the young king foiled some years before. Now The Narrator is after Scholar, and Scholar believes that only the young king and his advisor, two of the heroes who prevented the old king's plans from coming to fruition, can save him. Legena: Union Tides is to be the first game in a trilogy, throughout which the truth about The Narrator will be revealed.
That brief introduction already ties the story to an interesting backstory in which one of the main characters was responsible for slaying his own father for the good of his people. There are other dark undertones waiting to be drawn out, too, with this first game in the series intended to focus on deceit and crime through the lens of piracy on the open seas. The demo also shows attention to diversity issues and normal life troubles, too, with the young king's advisor being in a same-sex marriage which seems to be faring less than well.
Aesthetically, the game's 16-bit inspirations are clear. The tile-based pixel art is well done but has its own style, with the quality being on par with late 16-bit era levels of detail and variety. It has some neat map borders going on that clearly establishes map boundaries and marks a clear difference between the combat, cutscene, and traveling portions of the game. The music also hearkens back to the era that inspired the game, but the melodies and compositions are all Legena's own and do an excellent job of supporting the story.
Although the aesthetics hearken back to days of yore, the gameplay offers the kind of choices, customization, and cleaner user interfaces common to more modern games. Before combat, party members' special abilities can be customized by equipping them with different feathers. In combat, play occurs in rounds with allies' and enemies' turn order clearly displayed in one corner. On the map, encounters are visible, though unless scripted you can only tell that you'll be fighting something, not exactly what the enemy party's makeup will be. On top of that, dialogue choices can affect the main character's relationship with other party members.
The demo doesn't clearly show what the effects of those dialogue choices will be in the long run because it's only a small snippet of the game. However, it does show off what is already a solid game with good writing and a lot of hooks to snag the player's attention. It isn't very long and you can download it here.
Grandpa Pixel is currently seeking support on Kickstarter, where you can reserve a copy of the game for £3 (approx. $5 USD) or of all three games in the series for £8 (approx. $14 USD).