Part of the massive Might and Magic series first launched in 1986, Might and Magic Legacy X rides into the gaming scene on the current wave of nostalgia sweeping PC gaming. A result of the burgeoning indie scene and the difficulty of developing modern gaming graphics, retro is the new black and MMLX fits snugly amongst the throngs of new games styled from the 80s to early 2000s.
As a hack and slash RPG, Might and Magic Legacy X hits the nostalgia mark pretty accurately. Unfortunately its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. While many of the best modern retro games combine yesterday’s graphics with today’s gameplay, Might and Magic Legacy X sits firmly in the retro camp and steadfastly refuses to learn the collective lessons of decades of gaming.
First, the good: Might and Magic Legacy X is for the most part a genuinely enjoyable game. Your party of four explores the world from a first-person perspective, fighting a large variety of monsters in turn-based combat and collecting gear. While it progresses as a fairly bog-standard RPG, it has a certain charm reinforced by simple but flexible controls and a pleasing aesthetic. The grid-based system for both world movement and combat makes it easy to simple
The game’s punishing difficulty level may not appeal to everybody, but is quite representative of the gaming era it replicates. The constant challenges of the game make successes all the more rewarding, which stands in strong contrast to many modern games which offer both little risk and reward. The
While the story is eminently forgettable, there are more than enough interesting locations to discover and explore. Making your way through a boss fight and unlocking the next region is always rewarding. There’s a solid 20 hours plus of gameplay from start to finish, and you’re likely to find yourself playing “just a little bit longer” in the more interesting parts.
The levelling system strikes a good balance too, being complex enough to allow for a creative range of builds without becoming spreadsheet-level boring. As there are no randomised encounters and a finite number of enemies in the world, you’ll never be able to unlock enough points to level up all skills and it’s important to decide early in which direction you’ll build your party.
However Might and Magic Legacy X is not without its shortcomings. The game’s poor mapping system may be an accurate representation of yesteryear, but makes travel and locating landmarks a painful and dull experience. The game has an almost non-existent fast-travel mechanic, which makes no sense considering cleared areas of the map never repopulate with monsters or loot; there’s simply no point in making players slowly traverse the same area over and over again to get to the next town.
The game world is also replete with puzzles, most of which involve flicking switches or stepping on floor plates in a particular sequence to resolve some obscure pattern. Again, while this was a common mechanic in old games, it’s been mostly abandoned in modern releases as developers have quite correctly realised it’s dull and adds nothing to the player’s experience. It’s the two-dimensional equivalent of jumping puzzles.
For an RPG, the game also falters badly when it comes to loot. As we’ve known since the original Diablo from Blizzard, providing a variety of loot with ever-increasing power has a great addictive quality that keeps the player motivated for more battles. Loot in Might and Magic Legacy X however is generally fairly woeful, rarely providing worthwhile upgrades; there’s little to no thrill in finding that next powerful sword or armour. On a related topic, by the end of the game I’d saved hundreds of thousands of gold coins because there’s simply nothing in the town shops worth buying. An axe of +14 magic damage isn’t all that exciting as a replacement for a +13 axe, especially when the average monster is packing more than a thousand hit points.
Speaking of the end of the game, Might and Magic Legacy X easily has the worst final act of anything I’ve played for a long time. At least Limbic Entertainment aren’t the only developers to have failed to heed this lesson: throwing wave after wave of enemies at the player isn’t challenging, it’s just boring.
Might and Magic Legacy X is a game that had the opportunity to combine the best of retro gaming with the accumulated knowledge of decades of experience and simply failed to do so. Considering the Might and Magic franchise has been running for almost three of those decades, it’s a shame to see a game that could have delivered so much settle for merely slightly above middling. As a game that would have been a stunning achievement ten years ago, it doesn’t feel retro so much as it feels outdated. While there’s no doubt Might and Magic Legacy X holds appeal for fans of the genre, for most of the gaming community there are better trips to be had down memory lane.
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