Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia has returned for its third round of release, jumping to PC via Steam. Chalyr’s Game Room has covered the game’s original debut on Nintendo Switch (here, in July 2020) and later on PlayStation 4 (here, in December 2020). Both of the previous reviews have gone into detail on the mechanics of the game, which are essentially unchanged. The game is jumping into the PC market, fighting against titles built from the ground up on the PC format. Accordingly, I’m going to focus on the game as a PC title – a different benchmark than it faced on consoles.
Players will notice that this is not a game that was designed and built in English for the English-speaking market. What we’re assessing here is both the game’s port from console to PC, and also the English localization in particular. This has added extra difficulty to Matrix Software’s job in moving the game to the English-speaking PC market.
Overall Matrix Software has done a great job on this localization. There are a few areas like voiced character lines (inspirational comments or snide quips, I don’t know) during combat that remain in the original Japanese and don’t have subtitles. These areas are few enough that I was never left feeling that I had missed something critical. Text in the game is expertly translated, with none of the poor spelling or grammatical oddities that betray rushed or cut-rate localization work. Impressively, the game successfully pulls off a variety of double-entendre and other humor. Humor is an area which often does not translate well between languages and cultures, and this shows Matrix Software’s superb efforts to make their game accessible to an English speaking audience.
In-game User Experience
Mechanically, Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia betrays its roots as a console title in how it plays on PC. Brigandine supports keyboard and mouse options, but does not follow through on using the mouse in particular. Indeed, during the time I was reviewing Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on PC prior to its official release on 11 May 2022, I found myself exclusively using keyboard inputs after a time because using the mouse felt more cumbersome than helpful. Much of this comes from Brigandine’s combat map system, which uses an isometric view of a hex map.
As the player’s units sit on (and in the case of flyers, hover above) the hexes, the instinct of a PC gamer using a mouse is to click on the unit sprite to select it. In Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia, selection is done by clicking the hex, not the unit sprite. This method works fine when you are scrolling the cursor around via d-pad or keyboard-emulating button presses and the cursor highlights which hex it is on. When moving the cursor around with the mouse though, no such hex-highlighting occurs, and clicking on the sprite often ends up selecting the hex behind the sprite instead.
As mentioned earlier, this ended up feeling so cumbersome after a time that I ended up using the keyboard alone as the better option. PC players rapidly select items and navigate the map, so these shortcomings are disappointing. In the end, combat feels much slower and less engaging due to the inefficient selection system. Since the tactical combat system is where players will end up spending the majority of their time, this is a glaring weakness when stacked up against other PC-native titles.
Pet Peeves and Oversights
The performance of Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia on PC was generally quite good. Unfortunately, a few odd behaviors soured the first impression that the game provided. On first entry, many players will try to access the Settings or Options screen off the Main Menu. The game expects players to use “J” or “K” to accept or cancel these screens – with no indication of this at times. These conventions are clearly taught within the gameplay, but these Settings screens are accessible (and frequently accessed) before the tutorial. These windows even lacked the familiar “Accept/Close” buttons or even an “X” to close windows in the top right corners.
On the heels of this was an item that (while small and silly to obsess over) became a personal irritant through the game – a single missing space. Visible in the image below, it looks like in moving from the button-symbol to a keyboard character, nobody thought to add a space between the input setting and the word “key”. The first time the game asked me to “press the KKey” during the very first tutorial mission raised an eyebrow, the hundredth time this showed up in the main campaign my teeth were starting to grind. To me, this was a clear and repetitive indication that the game was a console-to-PC port, and it wouldn’t let me forget it.
User Interface – PC vs Console
The menu design of Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia betrays its console roots compared to many PC titles. Developers designing user interfaces for consoles have to contend with a very limited number of available buttons. The Nintendo Switch that Brigandine was first released on, for example, has a total of: two sticks; four trigger buttons; and eight standard buttons (of which four normally serve as a directional pad). This effectively gives developers 8 button inputs normally available for use. This leads to a system where the player needs to delve into multiple layers of menus before getting to the item they are seeking.
Games native to PC have a huge number of input options available: 26 alphabet keys; ten number keys; twelve function keys; and modifiers like Ctrl, Alt and Shift. This typically leads to fewer menus, with many hotkeys available to allow the player to rapidly navigate to particular options. The PC version of Brigandine maintains the console-style nested menu system and introduces few hotkeys to the player. The end result is a game that still feels like a console product on the PC. Comparatively slow and difficult to navigate, it comes up short against the optimized user experiences of PC-native titles.
The gameplay mechanics of Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia are still fun, and the game itself is still quite enjoyable. Earlier reviews gave it a 8.25 and 8.5/10, and the game certainly still has merit on the PC. Against other titles designed to use the PC’s broader capabilities and input options, Brigandine feels clumsy and slow to use. Brigandine could compete effectively on PC, but it will require an overhaul of the user experience to get there.
Originally for Nintendo Switch, Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia comes through PlayStation 4 before now arriving on PC via Steam. The gameplay mechanics are enjoyable, but this port has ignored the mouse and the PC’s range of keyboard inputs. The lack of a streamlined user experience leaves this game feeling slow and clumsy compared to PC-native titles. A good title, but not a great fit for the PC in its current state.Score: 7 / 10