Forgotten Legions tells the story of a character named Merkhovious, who is apparently a wizard or some other type of magic user. He started using dark magic and was quickly banished from the town of Riverkeep, because the higher-ups there frown upon that sort of thing. Now Merkhovious is back, and he’s brought an army of undead fiends with him to take revenge on those who threw him out. In an odd twist, you are actually in control of the supposed evildoers, trying to take out the knights and townsfolk of Riverkeep. While this would make for an interesting plot, the story never really extends beyond the game’s intro video and what is described in the digital instruction manual.
Though self-described as an “innovative real-time strategy” game – also information gleaned from the digital manual – Forgotten Legions plays much more like a tower defence game akin to PopCap’s hit Plants vs. Zombies. Your units begin on the right side of the DSi’s touch screen, and they slowly make their way leftwards towards the oncoming enemies on the gridded playfield. Because your units are consistently on the move there's no actual tower to defend, but allowing more than three enemies to pass the touch screen’s right threshold means it’s game over. There are two “Books” in the campaign, each containing 15 “chapters”, for a total of 30 levels in all. It’s not the longest game in the world, and it isn’t really fun enough to be worth replaying. That being said, some of the levels can be a bit difficult when filled with enemy units, so running through the campaign isn’t exactly quick or easy.
You place units on the battlefield and control their movements with a simple tap of the DSi’s touch screen. Your units will automatically advance forward and attack, but you can control where they move on the battlefield grid by tapping the squares on the ground and leaving direction arrows on them. More often than not, rather than moving a pre-existing unit, you will just place a new unit in the desired spot instead. The combat is incredibly unsophisticated and requires little to no skill, to the point of it being boring.
Over time, and as you kill more enemies, you're able to place more of your own units on the field. As you progress through the different chapters, new and stronger units with different hand-to-hand and ranged attacks become available at your disposal. You aren’t collecting any type of currency though, and your units never level up to become stronger, so getting access to these new fighters is simply a matter of completing stages. There’s no skill involved in it at all, much like the rest of the gameplay. Things just kind of happen for you as you keep moving forward.
As mentioned before, your units are slowly moving towards their foes, but the operative word there is “slowly”. While the slow pace is necessary for some of the later levels, early levels where enemy units are sparse feel a bit like you’re wading through waist-high mud. There is no option to speed your units up, so making it through the earlier and less eventful portions of the game are more about player patience than skill. You don’t have to manage any units or currency during this downtime, so that’s exactly what it is. Downtime. You’ll be doing a whole lot of waiting in this game, and it really isn’t any fun at all.
Not only is the gameplay uninspired, but the whole thing looks like a muddy mess. The characters are ugly masses of pixels that blend into each other and show no detail at all, and the environments are just flat surfaces with repetitive textures on them to give the appearance of detail. The soundtrack, while fitting with the tone of the game, sounds tinny as it forces its way through the DSi’s speakers.
Beyond the main campaign there is also an endless mode that has you fighting wave after wave of enemy units, except here you can choose to play as either the undead of the alliance or the good guys. This works exactly like the endless mode from any other game you’ve ever played, so you should know exactly what to expect from the gameplay here. Just more of the same, but repeated over and over again. The one extra feature endless mode boasts is an enigmatic online leaderboard. Rather than being linked directly to the game, the leaderboard requires you to visit Cypronia’s website where you must enter a 24 digit code displayed on your DSi after losing in endless mode. At the time of this writing, there are only three scores submitted to the leaderboard, all of which come from this reviewer.
Though it may not be broken, Forgotten Legions is an unattractive and downright boring game. The online leaderboard is a nice thought, but the execution is so poor and unenticing that – at the time of this writing – no one has even bothered to post on it. Strategy and tower defence games are abundant on the DSiWare digital download service — you’d be better off downloading almost any of those rather than Forgotten Legions.