Xbox One, PC, iOS, Android, Xbox Series X
March 10, 2022
Creating an indie game is, in a sense, a question of resources and smart sacrifices. Smaller budgets and scopes define and shape much of the indie sphere. There is only so much one can do with limited resources. Oftentimes, it leads to streamlining, cutting through luxuries and chaff to get to the core concept. On occasion, however, it leads to cutting corners. RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is an instance where the utmost love and care have gone into the design, yet the game still skimps on some fundamentals.
The pen is mightier than the sword
The star of The Legend of Wright is Kenta, a young aspiring game developer who has crafted the most elaborate RPG known to humans. He seeks you out, to play through his latest creation called The Legend of Wright. Through his pieces of custom-made papercraft game elements, he weaves the story of Wright. The Demon Deathgawd (yep that’s his name) has kidnapped Princess Lay. Wright must traverse the many dangers of the land, making new friends and defeating terrifying enemies, to save Lay and the world at large.
It must be said, The Legend of Wright is working with a cute concept. It’s a gamble, but it pays off. It is drawing off what has become a trope in indie RPGs—the invoked tabletop experience. Having the game look like a hand-crafted and hand-drawn world establishes this zone of safety and playfulness to the experience. The confines of what the game can do are more elastic, in this context.
The story is, shall we say, a tad childish. Although with a literal child behind the creation of the in-universe RPG, this can be seen as an advantage of the metanarrative. You can’t expect a primary school student to create a Shakespearean masterpiece, after all. However, the story is a vehicle for the gameplay and presentation. There is no, for example, delving into the meta of this story. Who is this child? Why are they inventing homebrew RPGs for us? How come we’re allowed to play 10 straight hours of RPGs after class? All these dumb questions and more could have added spice if they were answered by the game’s narrative, but no such luck.
Good on paper
Even if the story content is thin, The Legend of Wright excels in presentation. Papercraft isn’t a new vibe for the gaming landscape, but The Legend of Wright is on another plane of existence. Everything in this game is cobbled from stationery and knick-knacks. The action button is cut-and-pasted into forms across the game’s chapters. Little Perler bead stat boards hold the characters’ information. The pause menu button is a castanet with googly eyes for god’s sake. It’s bonkers, it’s excessive, and I love it.
I adore projects like this that put all the chips in on a concept. Furthermore, this adds to the storytelling with some impressive uses of visual metaphor, especially in the closing chapter. The indie spirit of finding a way to bring it all together is something that is on show here. If you are a developer or even just a fan of game aesthetics, I think you need to take a hard look at this title.
This presentation helps carry the gameplay. The easy-going vibe gives space for a dynamic playstyle. It rests on classic RPG mechanics of D-pad movement and an “action” button, which changes to suit the scene. From this skeleton, The Legend of Wright adds all manner of mechanics. A skull forest is a maze, as in a classic pen-and-paper style maze. Boss battles can take the form of an “I spy the weak spot” puzzle or a reflex challenge. On a horror level, the challenge is finding a safe place to hide from the monster. This is but a smattering of what this title has to offer. The effort put into the mechanics here was clearly not lacking.
Papering over the cracks – some cut corners
It’s impressive to see a game that manages to be so committed to its concept and not skimp on any element.
If there’s one place that the game lacks polish, it’s in the user-friendliness. My biggest bugbear with this game, which leans on the text narration style of a visual novel, is that it has no speed options. How can something designed with such care forget to include this? Text boxes run all across this experience. When you die because the game’s logic for surviving a room is obscure, there are several lines between you and a fresh new attempt. If you want to pause the game, in a big moment, you may have several minutes of clicking before the menu can be activated.
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright strangely makes you unlock the pause menu, occurring roughly an hour into the story. You have to go even further before such luxuries as the options are availed. Granted, you aren’t missing much, music and SFX volume sliders, and a pencil colour chooser. Elements like resolution and windowed mode are chosen upon launching. Even still, accessibility is an issue and user-friendliness is an oversight.
None of the above faults are truly dealbreakers. The Legend of Wright as a whole is still a sight to behold. It’s an example of commitment and phenomenal craftsmanship, even if some peculiar oversights hold it back.
- The presentation is fantastic
- Really dynamic gameplay that keeps things fresh
- The story is ok, but it's the way it's told that really shines
- Some user-friendliness oversights
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is a game with the kind of visual presentation that must be revered and venerated by all, despite some weird fundamental gaps in its user-friendliness. Whilst there are absolutely some opportunities for additional polish, it’s ultimately a minor ding in what is otherwise an insanely impressive game. This is an example of the best of what indie games can bring to the table. It is beautiful, it is dumb, it is dorky, and it is constantly tripping over itself to show you its new cool ideas. The Legend of Wright deserves recognition and love for all the amazing stuff it’s bringing to the tabletop.