When NIS America published a pair of Langrisser remasters in a single package, I debated whether or not I wanted to review them together since it’s the only way they can be purchased. However, they’re two different games, so here we are.
For those unaware, Langrisser is a series of strategy RPGs that initially released in America under the name Warsong on the Sega Genesis. Outside of mobile devices, that’s the only localized release we ever saw until now and that was wayyyy back in 1991.
The game begins with an angelic being asking you a series of questions, where your answers determine the hero’s starting battle statistics and gear. This is largely different from the mobile release, where your answers determined your starting class — now Ledin will now always begin as the same class, just now with alterations to his stats and stuff. Leveling up awards “class points” that can be used to unlock and upgrade to new jobs, which offers a variety of focuses like sword fighting, mounted combat, and whatnot. Other characters you recruit have their own starting job as well, along with their own unique job class trees and unlockables.
Variety really is the game’s strong point, especially when it comes to combat and narrative routes. Ripping metal riffs and moody jazz music also plays nice with the game’s two visual options, being the original maps and character portraits (see above), the newly remastered versions or even a mixture of the two.
Combat itself is standard grid-based SRPG stuff, where you and the enemy’s units take turns moving around a grid and issuing commands, but it’s on a much larger scale than something like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics. In Langrisser, your party consists of commander units (important story-focused characters) who can then bolster your ranks further by recruiting a set number of fodder units each battle.
For instance, Jessica, my archmage, could pay to recruit a bunch of phalanx units (high defense spear users) or archers, while Ledin the hero, by the end of the game, was more focused on dual-wielding swords and could only hire a single fodder unit. Unlocking better job classes affects how many units that commander can hire, but I always ended up controlling a nearly overwhelming number of people whenever my turn arrived.
To make things a bit easier, you can set fodder units to automatically follow a generic command, like attacking or defending, whenever your turn ends. Langrisser is more about using your commanders to buff their units and providing them with passive stat boosts as long as they’re nearby, though. I mean, you CAN manually send them off on their own and the game is easy enough to make that a viable strategy, but that’s not how it WANTS you to play.
That’s how I played, though. By the end of the game, I was surrounding my mage with high defense units and letting her annihilate everything around them turn after turn with wide-area magic spells. It was a sound strategy that carried me through 10 of the game’s 20 chapters, and ultimately made for a laughably easy experience… which isn’t ideal, I guess? I also regularly used two dragon-rider commanders, which is apparently the most overpowered class in the game. I mean, they can fly so terrain penalties don’t matter, they have super high attack values, and the gryphon units they can hire are pretty damn ridiculous. I’m not sure why I wouldn’t choose that over something way too situational, like marine units that only excel while placed on water tiles.
I guess it’s safe to say that balance isn’t a thing that exists in Langrisser. There are priest commanders that didn’t get to do much since their “move” stats didn’t allow them to keep up with flying or cavalry units, making them feel like a waste. In the last quarter of the game, all of my heavy-hitting melee units fell into similar situations — by the time they were within reach, my two dragon-riders and archmage had already made short work of everything because killing enemy commanders also caused their fodder units to retreat. So, for most of the game, I was able to skim through every challenge with just three units.
You can slowly level up your commanders in battle by spamming their buff spells, but killing things awards so much XP that I always felt over-leveled as a result. Needless to say, I did have a lot of fun playing Langrisser but it’s by far the easier SRPG I’ve played since the original Vandal Hearts — I never once saw a game over screen in the 10 hours it took to finish the campaign for the first time.
The story is pretty generic and didn’t do much to hold my attention. In a nutshell, you play as Ledin, the prince of Baldea, who flees for his life when the game’s big bad evil shows up unexpectedly and overtakes the kingdom (killing his father, the king, in the process). The kingdom of Baldea was guarding the legendary sword Langrisser, which legend says holds unimaginable power that kept demons sealed away, and, of course, the bad guys want it for themselves. With the Langrisser no longer in your possession, your new goal is to rebuild your ranks, take back the sword, and seal evil once again.
After about seven or so chapters, you’re given different ways to approach things, like saving or killing someone, which branches the story. There are 8 narrative routes in all, and if you don’t like the way things are playing out you can jump back to a previous chapter and approach it differently. However, your choice is permanent. Say you reach chapter 15 and you don’t like how things are going, so you decide to jump back to chapter 7 and kill the person you saved. You can’t change your mind and go back to chapter 15 — you’re stuck at chapter 7 and have to play all of those chapters again, albeit with all of your current weapons, levels, etc., so it’s much easier.
Basically, Langrisser is a game that’s meant to be played more than once. However, I didn’t think the story route that I took was very interesting and it didn’t exactly encourage me to immediately jump back in for another 10-hour playthrough. I’m sure I will at some point because I did have fun playing it, but I ultimately hope Langrisser II offers a more gripping narrative and more balanced, challenging battles. There is a NG+ mode that offers more challenging options, but, again, that requires another playthrough to enjoy.
This review covers the PS4 version only, which includes remasters of the first two Langrisser titles for $49.99 USD. A digital copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review by NIS America, so thank you to them for that.