Since last month, I've encountered surprises from every angle. It all began on my recent birthday when I awoke to find a PSP staring me straight in the face. The next day, I perused a local game shop and was stunned to discover Untold Legends, PSP's first RPG, was available. And now, several weeks later, I remain abounded by surprises–addicted and amazed by the excellence this game has to offer.
Brotherhood of the Blade follows some semblance of storyline that involves bitch-slapping evildoers and saving a civilization from imminent disaster. Controls are simple and the flow of action ultimately makes the game incredibly fun. While it may seem like the hack-and-slash concept equates to liberally mashing the square button, there’s actually more to it than that. You have a bevy of defensive and offensive controls at your fingertips at all times and can attach up to two different special/magic abilities to hotkeys, ensuring that gameplay maintains a quick, active flow. Besides, who wants to trudge through menus when they’d rather be putting the hurt on orcs?
Following in the tradition of most western RPGs, the game offers players a relatively slick customization system. While it’s not as extensive as KOTOR, you can choose from four distinct character classes, arm your soldier to the teeth, manage stats, abilities, and growth during the game. Although the character classes are slim, each has its own strengths and weakness–Druids and Alchemists serve as spell-casters whereas Knights and Beserkers contribute the brute strength. Each class offers their own unique sets of skills at higher levels and generic stat tweakers at the early stages of play. Further, leveling up entails distribution of points into stat pools, allowing you to add more abilities to your repertoire. As a compulsive stat junkie, I totally adore having so much control at my fingertips.
There’s also something to be said about refining your character to your preferred methods of bloodletting, and facing off against various avatars of evil soldiers, monsters, and the like. Since the action has the tendency to get monotonous, I truly appreciate the ease of pick- up-and-play. There have also been occasions where I’d be compelled to give the game a rest, only to get a renewed interest to crawl through dank dungeons and haunted tombs due a newly acquired spell or level. Likewise, I was practically hysterical once my Alchemist could summon Golems–there’s just something about controlling massive titans and wiping out scores of enemies that gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
While Untold Legends isn’t the most sophisticated RPG on the market, I found that this only added to its appeal. The action gets intense, but its not nearly as complex or intimidating like most action RPGs. In fact, the stat tracking is actually fun, albeit relatively deep. However, these minor quibbles cannot tarnish the overall brilliance that works in its favor. As a portable RPG, the inclusion of a built-in save system is a godsend for players constantly on the go and appreciate the ability to pick up where they left off. (Let’s face it, passwords suck.) With such a compelling and intuitive flow, Brotherhood of the Blade is a grand first effort for the PSP and one of the more enjoyable handheld RPGs currently available on the market.