Eternal Legacy Hands-On Preview

In a surprise move, Gameloft’s Final Fantasy-inspired RPG Eternal Legacy has just hit the App Store. Read our hands-on preview below and, if you’ve got an extra $6.99 burning a hole in your pocket, pick it up on iTunes by clicking here.

Square-Enix, if you’re not using the Final Fantasy license, do you mind if Gameloft borrows it for a while? Gameloft will never say that’s what they’re doing, what with the lawyers and all, but you don’t have to look too far past Eternal Legacy’s brooding, spiky-haired protagonist and turn-based RPG combat to see Square’s obvious influence.

Eternal Legacy is a sci-fi and fantasy RPG with a strong emphasis on the story and combat. You play as an acolyte named Astrian (the spiky-haired guy with the big sword) who starts the game eager to enter the public arena for his first fight. This serves as part of the tutorial, as you’ll face your first opponent and quickly defeat them using simple attack commands.

You can queue three commands, and they’ll automatically launch one at a time when a meter at the top of the screen fills up. You can use a basic attack, cast spells, and use items like healing potions. Early on, it’s just the Eastern RPG basics.

Soon, after your arena fight is crashed by the evil sorcerer Reinherz, you join up with a few more companions and the battles get more complex. Your first two companions, the surfer dude best friend Taric and lithe damsel in distress Lysty, can be given general commands like “defender” or “healer”, but you can’t control their specific actions. The main strategy seems to be deciding which spells to cast, since early on we didn’t see an element-based combat system like in Square Enix’s Chaos Rings.

The world of Algoad in Eternal Legacy is classic sci-fi, with floating platforms and sleek spaceships, but it’s also got knights in shining armor and sorcerers seeking over-sized crystals. The Retina display graphics are very impressive, and we really like that battles take place in the same environments that you walk around in, unlike in Chaos Rings, which seems to warp you somewhere else every time you battle.

Another few details that caught our eye are the unavoidable random battles, and the fact that enemies seem to lack a health bar. Both of these might make the game a bit complicated, if the final product isn’t balanced correctly. There’s nothing worse in an RPG than falling into a fight where you’re outmatched and don’t even know it. Plus, while Eternal Legacy has full voice-overs, some of the characters made us cringe with their poor delivery.

We’re not sure yet how the Final Fantasy faithful will respond to Eternal Legacy. They tend to be picky about their RPGs and may not appreciate Gameloft’s simpler interpretation. But as a gorgeous turn-based RPG for a more casual crowd, we can see the appeal. Look for it on the App Store in January.