Monday, 29 January 2018

Review - Legend of Hand

I’d been looking forward to playing Legend of Hand ever since seeing it showcased at Adventure-X in 2014.  I was immediately drawn to the unique art style  and the fact that the graphics reminded me of classic martial arts games such as International Karate; also it seemed to have genuinely different ideas thrown into a melting pot rather than being a fixed genre.

Reader, I was not disappointed.

Legend of Hand is a rather unique game.  Without revealing too much of the plot I will say that you are a well thought of student who wins a martial arts competition, and is sent on an important quest.  This quest will involve visiting several islands, then finding and challenging the champion of each island.  Along the way you will learn new skills, stances and be able to upgrade certain stats if you complete tasks or find opponents to challenge.
Takes a while to get into this tent... but it's worth it.

The game combines elements of adventure and RPG, and takes you on an epic quest involving numerous locations and several memorable characters.  Perhaps with a wink in the direction of The Karate Kid, many of the tasks you will need to undertake involve mundane tasks such as cooking, fishing, even dancing.  The game is constantly fun and relatively easy to progress through – although one or two puzzles will have you scratching your head for a while.  There is – perhaps intentionally, given the subject matter – a slight over-reliance on timing-based puzzles at some points, although some of these can be skipped.  Certain possibilities for building up your stats are there but I think the game is designed in such a way that you don’t especially need them – they just make it a little easier / faster to get past certain opponents.  You can also earn money and buy items to build up your stats in some places - but beware, some of the traders are rather less than honest in the descriptions they give of their wares!

Don't let this chap's intuitive size fool you, he's not to be messed with!

The art style is unique and excellent – a line-art style which in parts greyscale, in others coloured.  Although the art is quite simple in style, it’s always eye-catching and detailed enough for the visual clues to come through.  My only real criticism is that the backgrounds sometimes lacked animation – especially scenes where there were a lot of people, but no movement, this spoiled the mood just a little.  There is no speech, but ambient sound effects were used effectively and the music, despite not seeming “right” for a martial arts themed game, were somehow perfect for Legend of Hand.  It all added to a wonderful atmosphere of unbelievable believability. 

The story and dialogue are full of humour although there are deeper subjects touched on.  I found the ending is a little difficult to understand, particularly as it seemed to happen so quickly.  Still an enigmatic ending seems fitting for this game – it was a wonderfully surreal experience throughout, walking the tightrope between mundane believability and absurd unreality without even threatening to fall off.  Your character keeps a diary which gives you some storyline and information about the fighting stances, a map (honestly I never found this actually helpful, it just seems to show an outline of the island you’re currently on, I may have missed something!) and a handy task list in case you forget what you’re supposed to be doing.  There are several mini-games along the way, most (/all?) of which are either optional or can be skipped if you find them too difficult.

Overall Legend of Hand is unlike anything else I’ve ever played.  It’s adventure-lite, added to RPG-lite, with its own unique brand of humour and style.  Appropriately enough ethics, honourability and nature all play key roles in the game too.  If you like your games a little different, you’re definitely going to enjoy this one.

Available from Itch and Steam(At time of posting this review it’s on special offer too!)

Okay so is this an NPC or a Twitter user?!?!?

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