At first look, Legends of Pixelia seems like what Blizzard’s Diablo could have been, had it been made before its own time. The jutting pixilated art style isn’t for everybody, and newcomers may find it apprehensive. But beyond its visuals reminiscent of generations before lies an appealing combat system with deep-rooted RPG progression, coupled with up to four player cooperative gameplay.
Legends of Pixelia plays like a beat ‘em up dressed in rogue-like dungeons. Each randomly generated room contains a number of fantasy monsters including undead, bats, and ghosts. There’s no getting out until they’re beaten, and the best way to do it is by unleashing a number of combos and specialized strikes. There are three classes currently available: The axe-swinging Barbarian, the charging Knight, and magic-and-hammer wielding Paladin. Each one has a number of skills available at their disposal, with cooldowns. The basic attacks chain and can pop up enemies for combos, and a blocking option adds a tactical aspect to the combat.
It’s also important to point out what aspects Legends of Pixelia purposefully abandons. There is no passive health regeneration or healing skills, nor life steal or consumables that can be carried. This is to ensure that the game remains a more skill-based challenge than a matter of farming up or relying on outlasting foes with defensive and healing measures. Instead, the underlying focus is on good timing of skills and positioning, themes that reinforce the strategic gameplay backed by a slew of stats.
You can shape the character in multiple ways, emphasizing growth in offense, defense, special moves and so on, and every 5 points in a specific category unlocks a passive buff from a list under the stat. I wish, though, that the passive skills were a bit more incremental. Leveling is fast only at the very beginning, and it seems like it’s going to take an extremely long time to get to the bottom of a passive tree, especially if not all the points get pooled into one stat.
But despite an encyclopedia of statistics and an inventory system, the gameplay emphasizes skill. If you’re not careful, a group of monsters can combo you, quickly paying back all the damaging combinations you inflicted on their deceased brethren. While the first area, the Crypts, is designated to be built for characters Levels 1-3, my brother and I were about level 7 when we finished it, dying a few times and farming up to be stronger. It seems like we should have been pretty overpowered for the area we were in, but perhaps this is more indicative of a smaller emphasis on numbers and larger on skill. Thus, the “brawler side” of Legends of Pixelia needs to be taken seriously, and the AI is challenging as advertised. Notably, there’s also a Versus mode for some competitive (or friendly) PvP-ing.
As for the graphics, while they might not be for everyone, the effects and monsters look detailed and charming. The character and humanoid models could use some work, however. They don’t look unique enough, and the current classes are only distinguishable by weapons, so the paladin doesn’t look any different from the knight except for the hammer. On a side note, “Casper” is probably not the most creative name for a ghost boss.
The inventory still needs a little more work. When picking up new items, it would be good to see what you’re already wearing. There is a comparison for some stats (attack rating and defense) but other ones aren’t shown in contrast with what you have. So you’ll pick up gloves that increase cooldown reduction, but you can’t tell your current total or whether your old gloves have any at all. It isn’t a big issue, but the metrics do matter and many RPG enthusiasts will want to compare every detail.
It’s clear from the UI that the game is made with four players in mind, so the mentioned inventory comparison is limited to one-fourth of the screen for each fighter. Hopefully, the UI will adjust so that there’s more information on the screen, proportionally to the number of players. Some helpful things would be better visual indicators for who’s who on the screen, because four players may easily lose themselves in the heat of battle. Little things like arrows for players, health indicated in numbers, and inventory improvements are some ways the UI could be friendlier.
Some UI improvements aside, once there’s more variety to the game – in the form of additional classes, enemies, environments, etc – Legends of Pixelia should shape up to a pretty unique action-brawler RPG. The systems that are in place are really solid, and the gameplay ideas come through in the form of a fun, multiplayer beat em’ up in a dungeons-and-dragons-like vibe. When the skill tree gets more exciting and other UI issues are smoothed out, Legends of Pixelia will be well on its way to providing a compelling, enjoyable title.