Dec 1, 2011

Legends of Yore

In my last appearance here, a while ago, I had a look at Sigmore Mines 2. I wanted to try some of the other roguelike games available on Android, since a well done game in the genre would be just about the perfect application for me. The next one I tried is Legends of Yore, a roguelike specifically created for mobile devices, and which is now available across a variety of platforms, including as a web application and on Facebook.

I won't review the basics of a roguelike game here, but instead briefly recap that they're (usually) procedurally generated dungeon crawls. Legends of Yore actually includes an overland map as well as dungeons, which is always a refreshing addition to roguelikes. You start in a town with a handful of buildings, including the familiar stores and fantasy archetypes that populate games like this. After receiving a mission from the town clerk, it's off into the dungeon. Shockingly, once you descend into the dungeon, your first mission has you harvesting potatoes.

OK, no, it's killing monsters and taking their stuff. The interface for accomplishing this is not bad, considering the constraints placed on games by the lack of keyboard and the size of screens. You can move around by tapping a location or by using an on-screen d-pad (or the keyboard d-pad). One issue with this control scheme is that you can accidentally click a location, causing you to charge around the landscape, possibly while monsters chew on you. But that's a minor issue, and the movement is pretty functional. Along one side of the screen are meters measuring health and a bar that varies by class (mana, rage or zen) and on the other side are a few menus for managing your character. Overall, I think the interface is reasonably frictionless and is a nice piece of work.

The graphics of the game are in a deliberately pixelated style, going for a charming retro style that I find reasonably appealing. The layouts are appealing as well, with some care going into the graphics presentation. When combined with a solid interface, it becomes a very easy game to simply pick up and play. Contributing to that ease of starting out is the fact that you really only have to choose one of three classes and off you go.

The problems really only crop up once you start actually adventuring. You'll kill a lot of skeletons and snakes at first. And that's it for a while. The environments in your first dungeon all feel pretty much the same, and you won't really be in any danger from these early encounters given reasonably competent play. With the archer I was playing, as long as I made sure to pump back up my zen (a boost for ranged attacks that recovers when you rest and goes away when you get clobbered in melee) I pretty much breezed through the first dungeon. It wasn't until towards the end that I encountered my first real surprise, a monster that could deform the environment of the dungeon (very cool).

The feelings of similarity extend to other aspects of the game. Character improvement is very gradual, without much feeling of change. You just slowly get slightly better at stuff and don't ever really feel like you've crossed much of a threshold. Treasures tend to be mostly the same things over and over again, with lots of low level potions showing up in the first dungeon, for example. I was never bowled over by an incredible find. Eventually, you'll finish that first dungeon, where you are encouraged to take to the great outdoors. I was excited to give it a try, hoping that I'd see some interesting new environments and foes. While I did encounter some new bad guys, it was only refreshing for a bit, as instead of seeing snakes and skeletons, I instead saw truckloads of bandits and wolves.

That theme was repeated throughout the game: in any given area, you would see a very narrow range of bad guys at any given time. It lent a very static feel to the game, since you were constantly performing the same things over and over again. I was wishing that things would get mixed up some. A bandit mixed in with the skeletons. A mummy chasing me through the forest. Something just to break things up. As it stands, the level of grind here is high, even by roguelike standards.

In some ways, Legends of Yore is a nice piece of work. It's expansive, it has a clean interface and it does well in providing a smooth play experience. But it doesn't really have a spark to hold me to it. It's just a little bit too much of a grind without enough texture or surprise to fascinate in the way that a great roguelike should. I'd say that any roguelike fan should give this a try to see if it sinks its hooks into them, and it's not a bad intro for folks who haven't really played roguelikes before. But it didn't really work for me in the long term, so I'll go with 3.5 stars.


  1. Suggestion:
    Infinite Dungeon. (free demo available)
    This one offers what other roguelikes (I've tried) on android didn't:
    Challenge, very different enemies requiring different tactics, various character skills.

    IMO, Legends of Yore is uninspired game build on enthusiasm erupting from finding cute free art-set.

  2. I will check out Infinite Dungeon, thanks. I also just downloaded a game that claims to be inspired by Mystery Dungeon, which I quite liked.

    And, it is good to be back. I am going to try and keep up a reasonable pace here, probably sticking with the roguelike beat for a bit.

  3. Def. Try the Angband ports and all their ilk, fascinating conversions. I enjoyed 'No way but down' immensely til it peters out of content. 'rogue' is a (very) flawed diamond in the rough but be prepared for some game obliterating bugs. Voyage to Farland does a good, admittedly bizarre job at the mystery dungeon thing. Samurai Rogue is a refreshing take on the classic. 'gurr's version of nethack is well implemented and I managed to get further on my phone than I ever had on a desktop. Web Raid Mobile is a brilliant concept game that has you roguelike-adventuring down a rendered websites' linguistics. Andor's Trail is a light but absorbing diversion. Dweller is tried and true dungeon crawling fun.. didn't hook me in so much. Kamyran's Eye isn't to my taste but the genre fits I guess. Dwarf fortress would make a wonderful port.. impossible as that may be. Just Dungeon Crawl would do for me :)

  4. Oh and let's not forget Hydra Slayer! Fantastic site by the way, bookmarked and home tabbed.

  5. That's a great list of stuff to try, I'll have a look. Like you, Dweller didn't do it for me, I'll probably try and write it up at some point. I haven't tried the Angband port, but suspect I'd be frustrated - I play Angband at a very high rate of speed with lots of macros, and slowing down and retraining the muscle memory might be a bit too difficult for me.

    Personally, I'd love to see a port of something like Dungeons of Dredmor, which is fantastic fun and mouse driven, so it should work well with a touchscreen interface. A tablet port, at any rate, would work extremely well.

  6. Joshua, hope you enjoy Voyage to Farland - I've been constantly tweaking the controls.

    Healthcoat - "admittedly bizarre", heh heh, guilty as charged - especially early soundtrack and things like the "Garlicy Breath" attack.

    Cokeandcode's done a great job with Legends of Yore - seems to have hit the market with a roguelike sub-genre that people are hungry for.

  7. Patrick, I'm looking forward to giving it a try. I thought Mystery Dungeon (which I played on my DS) was a heap of fun, so I'm quite excited to try something inspired by it. Controls are tricky for roguelikes, no matter where they run, much less on a phone.