Game developers can fall into one of at least three types. The first category is basically made of those who hope to hit the jackpot by making hybrid games (as inventing new genres is pretty much out of the question) or innovative gameplay. The second category likes to take existing genres to the next level, by bringing in famous artists, top-notch technology or twisting, multiple-ending stories into the production process.
The third category belongs in the deepest chasms of Hell, for reeking of sloth and lethargy. In other words, these are the people who choose to infinitely exploit the same ideas and safe recipes for success. Of course, the fact that I only mentioned three categories does not invalidate the existence of others. Nevertheless, it’s a pity that merely glancing at the digital entertainment market is probably less repetitive than watching human photocopies get assembled in Star Wars: Clone Wars.
Although the truth is always painful, we have to admit that clone-games (or spam-games as I like to call them) sell well, sometimes even better than quality titles that don’t get the proper advertisement they deserve (Psychonauts is an excellent example). Consumers are often hypnotized by blurbs that reflect false expert opinions or by hollow prizes the game won before even being launched. Another common marketing strategy is bragging about some new surprising technology on the official website, while consumers later learn that these “novelties” are nothing more than fancy names for the same toys they used to play with.
Master Creating is known to the masses as the development team behind Restricted Area, a modest action-RPG that proved itself to be a successful time consumer to all fans of the genre alike. Having only one game in their portfolio, Master Creating couldn’t stir things up in the press, but it seems that the release of Legend: Hand of God was supposed to turn things around.
In order to create the game, the developers collaborated with Susan O’ Connor (the writer that has done stints on Star Wars Galaxies, Gears Of War and BioShock) and Dynamedion (the company responsible for the music in Spellforce 2, Paraworld and the Anno Series). They also developed the MASTER engine, which is supposedly tweaked for RPGs. And the tip of the iceberg is a cinematic fighting system that guarantees a unique set of fighting moves for each and every enemy.
The only problem is that not everything that looks good on paper is as brilliant when put into practice. Because somewhere along the way, Master Creating got lost in the details, or maybe they just lowered their wages. Because Legend isn’t remotely as great as its advertisement would suggest.
The game starts off as something that resembles a sketched version of the Lord of the Rings saga: the vast lands of Aris have been populated by the typical variation of Orcs, Elves and Dwarves more than a thousand years ago. It seems that Humans were also supposed to inhabit part of this fantasy world, but records of those times didn’t mention them. The expansive nature of the Orcs made the Dwarves forget their native hatred towards Elves at one point, so the two races formed an alliance in order to better defend themselves against attacks. But because the Orcs were getting pretty persistent, Kaskaras, the most powerful Elf wizard, decided to open the ancient Portal of Darkness, fully convinced that he could rally the demons against the enemy.
Naturally, the wizard’s assumptions turned out to be wrong and infernal armies invaded the land, destroying everything in their path. The humans turned this event into a Kodak moment: led by Targon and Halgan, two brothers of royal descent, they managed to push the demons back to the portal they had come through. Humans, however, did not possess the knowledge to truly sever the link between the depths of Hell and the land of Aris. So Targon lit a holy flame that served one purpose only – to keep the demons from passing through the inter-dimensional gate. The flame was kept in a monastery, its light forever to be guarded. Leaving Halgan in charge of the kingdom, Targon then followed the demons on the parallel realm to try and destroy their leader. He never came back.
The cliché would not be complete if the motif of the pupil at the monastery had been left out of the story. The very moment this unnamed student completes his “Keeper of the Flame” initiation ritual, the eternal flame is sabotaged by an evil stranger. The world is invaded by demons once more, and the hero, whose name we finally find out is Targon (surprise!), takes on the quest of saving the world. As you probably already guessed, he starts searching for the Hand of God, the only artifact that can seal the infernal portal forever.