Might & Magic X: Legacy Review (PC)

very good
key review info
  • Game: Might & Magic X: Legacy
  • Platform: PC
  • Gamepad support: N/a
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Might & Magic X: Legacy

Might & Magic X: Legacy is the latest installment in the legendary role-playing game series that came to life almost 30 years ago, having been just released on Steam for Windows PC, developed by Limbic Entertainment and published by Ubisoft.

The most obvious peculiarity of Might & Magic X: Legacy is that it chose to go the really old-school way, taking a leaf from the first iterations’ book and playing as a turn-based and grid-based affair.

The decision is a bit surprising, considering that the grid-based map was initially utilized due to the limitations inherent to the beginning of the ‘90s, and that is was pretty much dropped as soon as a semblance of a 3D world could be implemented.

The resolution is kind of a mixed blessing, because on one hand, it offers combat a lot more depth, as it becomes a lot more tactical and allows for more strategic opportunities, but on the other, the game seems to have a sort of stop-start overall feeling that makes one think of claymation, a fact that becomes even more apparent during the exploration of the great outdoors.

Story

The game is set in the Agyn Peninsula, a land threatened by a secession war, following the events that took place in Heroes of Might & Magic VI.

Might & Magic X: Legacy debuts with a rather lengthy but not overly dull cinematic intro, detailing the status quo of the realm and offering a starting point for the whole escapade.

Players take charge of the destinies of four adventurers that will get caught up in the intrigues and political interests of the forces surrounding the city of Karthal, ultimately deciding the fate of the region.

The game in itself is not very heavy on the story side, focusing more on the adventuring, but it does provide some books that shed additional light on the unfolding events and the realm’s history.

Gameplay

The game offers four playable races, Human, Dwarf, Orc and Elf, each of them coming with a might-inspired class, a magic-related one, and a hybrid, and some unique racial traits. The classes are unique to the races, which is a sort of lore bonus, as it creates an illusion of cultural diversity.

Character development focuses around primary attributes and skills, with the main stats offering obvious bonuses to either spell slinging or axe swinging. The bonuses offered are flat, meaning that a point invested in the magic stat will increase magic damage by 2 percent for any class and a point in spirit will add 3 more mana to your character, and pretty much the same applies to all attributes.

The difference between the characters lies mainly in their skills, using a system similar to the one found in Might & Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, where individual skill point investments offer a small bonus, with each skill having an upgrade to the expert, master and grandmaster tier, conferring additional bonuses, such as extra weapon strikes or a riposte after dodging an attack, offering an impactful boost to the character.

These upgrades have to be bought from special trainers scattered throughout the game world, and no further progression can be made in a specific area until the expertise tier is unlocked. Unfortunately, there is no in-game journal to account for their whereabouts, so players have to either take notes or use the internet in order to find the more elusive ones.

The skills are overall pretty well balanced, offering a lot of opportunity for min-maxing and divergent paths for the same character class, and with 12 available classes and four party slots, it also translates into considerable replayability value.

The main difference between classes is the maximum tier available for particular skills, a Dwarven Defender being able to be a grandmaster of heavy armor and shields, blocking attacks against other party members and enduring through a lot of punishment, but not being able to progress fire magic (which is big with Dwarves) above expert.

Some skills do seem to be a bit more important that others, and your experience during the first couple of hours with the game will quickly yield a sort of prioritized hierarchy, where it will be clear that some skills need 1 point investments and others have to be raised to expert as soon as possible in order to increase your chances of success.

And that you need, because Might & Magic X: Legacy is not ashamed to unceremoniously throw you into harm’s way right from the get-go. The game is pretty demanding even on its toned-down Adventurer difficulty level, always keeping you on your toes and putting your skills to the test.

In fact, the difficulty level seems to be very well balanced, as it does require smart use of abilities without being extremely punishing and requiring you to get the perfect build right from the start. There will be enough time for that on the harder difficulty setting, an experience that is truly reminiscent of the glory days of yore, where a dodge against a boss was a clear occasion to celebrate, most usually by gleefully saving the game.

The Adventurer difficulty seems pretty organic, fights are pretty hard, a boss can quickly turn you into fertilizer if you don’t have a good plan, but they are generally winnable from the first try, unless there’s some level difference involved, and you won’t have to become a random number hunter, reloading a saved game until your tank successfully lands his taunt, otherwise the fight being over.

As in previous Might & Magic titles, the game will feature simplistic dialogues and a lot of fighting. Your enemies will test your abilities right from the start, and combat will soon become a very tactical exercise where turn order and the right mixture of spells have a dramatic influence on the result of a fight.

Your foes will be able to inflict incapacitating effects on your characters, such as poison, paralyze, stun, weakness, which will severely hamper your prowess, but luckily there are plenty of spells, scrolls and potions to deal with that. The flipside, however, is that every turn you spend taking care of such conditions is a turn you’re not dealing any damage, so balancing offensive and defensive abilities will prove to be your main concern throughout the game.

Your foes also feature interesting abilities such as retaliating to the first melee strike each turn or multiple hits which can quickly put your mages out of their misery should they land, so choosing the correct order in which to attack and using taunts and disables in order to win some time to quaff a potion or cast a shielding or healing spell will become second nature and will provide an endearing experience.



Might & Magic X: Legacy also provides a bestiary, a record of each enemy’s stats and weaknesses, and the more you kill of one particular sort, the more you find out about them, presenting another layer of complexity to combat, through the many immunities or vulnerabilities to particular schools of magic, often providing a choice between the mage spending his turn healing the party or dealing greatly increased damage that will likely end the fight considerably faster.

As your party becomes stronger, some monster encounters do become trivial, but the scaling as you progress through content will always present a challenge, and fighting rarely becomes a button-mashing experience. Especially so since you have to always be aware of your party’s potion reserves and rations, for mana and health don’t regenerate on their own.

In a callback to the good old days, after a day of adventuring your party will become tired, incurring a stat penalty, and they will have to rest, which consumes rations, which in turn limits your freedom in the wild and conditions you to return to town to fill up on food. It is also the main means of recouping life and mana, which makes things even more difficult, as you can’t just sleep and get refreshed after every encounter, which forces you to play better.

There are also puzzles scattered throughout the dungeons, in true role-playing game tradition, puzzles which thankfully have the solution laying around in hint form or are pretty obvious for the most part, unlike older games that had you going across the map in order to solve a riddle or guess some quirky cryptic interpretation. The friendlier puzzles therefore add to the overall gameplay instead of feeling like a chore.

Sound and Graphics

Unfortunately, the old-school roots of Might & Magic X: Legacy show the worst at this level, as both sounds and graphics are completely outdated. The game is engaging enough while you’re duking it out with various adversaries in dungeons so that you don’t notice its shortcomings, but whenever you get a break they jump right at you.

The sounds are very repetitive, and as in most role-playing games it makes all characters feel like jukeboxes that keep playing the same old tune over and over, instead of giving them a couple hundred inane lines that would have made them feel alive.

Fighting noises also tend to become very monotonous with time, especially since the denizens of dungeons also seem to follow the same one hiss for naga type and one clank for all shield blocks mentality.

That doesn’t mean that the music and sounds are bad, they are just not good enough. The visuals, on the other hand, are a completely different story.

Might & Magic X: Legacy presents a fully-fleshed 3D world that you cannot really interact with, and it takes some getting used to it, in order to figure out what you can touch and from what angle. The grid-based navigation will also turn many people away from the game, because it makes the game seem very static and it ruins the natural flow of the gameplay.

The production value is also pretty low overall, with some wildly varying elements, some models looking very good and others very poor, like they were imported from an older game. The world also looks very bare on many occasions, lacking the polish and high quality textures encountered in modern titles.

Many times, background elements in the game just look unfinished, and for a 2014 game, that really is unpardonable. Add that to the fact that the game often runs so poorly, with very long loading times and stutters while hopscotching in its non-interactive world, and you’re left with the hardest puzzle the game presents.

The Good

  • Great tactical combat
  • Engaging gameplay
  • Replayability
  • Does the series justice

The Bad

  • Poor visuals
  • Performance issues
  • Quirky grid map

Conclusion

There are two types of people as far as Might & Magic X: Legacy goes, those who upon hearing “Might & Magic” think of a role-playing game, and those who think about a strategy game. The former category will greatly enjoy the new game and ignore its shortcomings, and the latter, well, not so much.

The chance to play a modern Might & Magic game that wasn’t changed and transformed in order to “appeal to a wider audience” is one that many fans of the series will jump at, and the game truly does deliver a great adventuring experience, with exciting and challenging combat and replay value.

Unfortunately Might & Magic X: Legacy has a number of shortcomings that will put off many potential players, its very dated and unpolished graphics and performance issues being at the forefront.

The start-stop grid-based movement system along with some of its limitations such as not being able to shoot over a bush that the engine deems unpassable or not being able to flee combat or enter towns while engaged will also be a stream of frustration.

Fortunately, the game fully supports mods, and hopefully dedicated fans will soon come up with more content, such as higher quality textures, in order to improve the gaming experience and address some of the more glaring issues.

If you can get over the dated visuals and the grid map, Might & Magic X: Legacy will prove a magical, enthralling experience that will offer tens of hours of enjoyment and will remind you of all the best times you had with the series.

story 8
gameplay 9
concept 10
graphics 7
audio 8
multiplayer 0
final rating 8.5
Editor's review
very good
 
NEXT REVIEW: Blackguards

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