The Legend of Tianding is, in my opinion, the ideal video game. Instead of being able to perform any action the player desires since it allows them to accomplish anything they want. A wonderful example of a short film that meets all of its visual and narrative objectives without ever feeling stale. The bleak image of colonial Taiwan, albeit only six story-driven chapters, is replete with intrigue and potential. This surprised me, given that the game doesn’t hold back when it comes to its harsh environment.
Legend of Tianding is a 1909-set platformer set in the lively Dadaocheng neighborhood of Taiwan. During the Sino-Japanese War, the Empire of Japan conquered the Qing, gaining possession of Taiwan for itself. People in the fictional world of Legend work tirelessly for the benefit of their colonizers, who employ a ruthless police force to keep an eye on them. Everybody is out to get each other, and only those who help the Japanese police abuse their own country can get by easily there.
Playing as Liao Tianding, who is modeled on the renowned real-life ‘Robin Hood’ figure, you steal from the police in order to donate to the impoverished. His appeal should be outlawed as well. A nice young man, Tianding uses cunning ploys to elude his cartoonishly villainous pursuers and is sincerely concerned about the well-being of his people. It was his old-school heroics that drew me into the story, even if the obvious plot twists didn’t lend themselves to a sense of expectation. No moral gray area for me when the cops are savagely abusing our senior citizens on the streets of our cities. All I want to do is kick someone in the a$$. You can also stomp on a number of colonizers in this game. For the most part, you’ll be wreaking havoc on the Japanese police force. You may have to deal with Taiwanese allies of the colonial authority.
Legend is disguised as Streets of Rage, but it’s actually a Kirby game. During combat, you can take control of any of Tianding’s enemies’ weapons by pressing the steal button, but only after you’ve decimated their health with your knives. Whatever the weapon, there is an inherent value in how long it can be used before it needs to be replaced. Consequently, you’re always scrambling for new weapons when your current one runs out. The weapon you have at your disposal may not be the best one for the job at hand. However, you may always rely on Tianding’s basic knives in the event of bad luck.
The’steal’ ability is tough to target, which is one of my few quibbles with the game. However, while the snatching animation is visually appealing, it takes a couple of seconds to complete and can snag foes who aren’t carrying anything. So if I grabbed the wrong enemy, I’d have to re-position myself to steal from the guy I was originally aiming for, and I’d have to interrupt my combos for nothing. This is probably a true simulation of a skirmish, however, I like the battle that flows smoothly rather than being frustrated by repeatedly grabbing the wrong enemy.
As a platformer, Legend never leaves you in the dark about what you should do next. I never felt like the levels were excessively long or padded. Platforming hazards are used in the game to make fights more difficult. It is just as easy for your enemies to knock you into these dangers as it is for you to knock them out. As much as it’s tempting to get lost in the melee, being on top of your game is critical if you want to make it through any extended battles. Despite the lack of variety in the adversary types, I found the combat to be interesting in the end. For as long as I had a way to steal, I was able to experiment with different strategies. While a shield may deflect, some weapons had the significant penetrating capability, and melee weapons had a large knockback capacity. I preferred to be kept on my toes rather than have Tianding always be able to grab specific weapons.
That the game doesn’t merely tell you that Tianding is a beloved folk hero but rather delivers that notion through gameplay is also a plus. Even while you can buy upgrades with your stolen money, the majority of them will come from alms given to street beggars. To help you feel like you’re fighting for them, they’ll give you talismans that give you a small boost in your combat abilities. However, there’s nothing better than dispersing your loot when you’ve finished a particularly challenging level.
You may have a transactional relationship with them, but you will never be charged for any specific improvement. They’re all absolutely arbitrary. Even if I prefer to use a specific weapon, I may receive an upgrade that does not fit my playstyle. There is less of an immediate benefit to me because of this randomization. My talismans, on the other hand, were completely customizable. Prior to making purchases, I was aware of exactly what I was buying. My generosity had unexpected outcomes. Despite the fact that I enjoyed the idea of exchanging weapons for improvements, the randomness of the process kept me from focusing on the upgrades as my ultimate aim.
Trying to be everything at once makes me anxious; mashups that lose their creative focus tend to be forgettable. Legend is the perfect mix of a brawler, a platformer, and a visual novel all in one package. If you’re a fan of any of those things, you’re likely to fall in love with the rest of the game as well.
When it comes to the outcomes of narrative video games, I’m usually a monster. When I played many Dragon Age games, I eliminated entire elf clans, and in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I let the protagonist’s entire family die. It wasn’t until the game’s “bad” ending was revealed that I felt the need to play through it again and see if I could change Tianding’s fate. In contrast to most single-player action game protagonists, he’s a hero that I can’t help but root for. The first chapter of the second playthrough was completed in eight hours.
Furthermore, I could clearly sense the creators’ affection for Taiwan. Every time I used a power-up, the history of Taiwanese popular culture appeared in my collectibles tab. There is no top-down historical view of this turbulent period of history in the many commercials and alcoholic beverages that directly teach gamers about Taiwan’s “poor culture”.
Heroic heroism is emphasized in the game using a comic-style approach. Though I’m hesitant to term the visual style “manga,” every aspect of the game has been done by hand. the manner which With its strong, flat colors and richly textured scenes that don’t rely too heavily on negative space, it seems more like a video game adaptation of a manhua I used to read as a kid. Compared to other games that use comic art as a layer over a video game, Legend refuses to sacrifice its identity as either a game or a comic, which helps it stand out in a crowded field of 2D platformers.
With the exception of the police officers, who speak Japanese, Legend is primarily voiced in Taiwanese. Animation in Asia is typically viewed by Westerners as inferior since it is viewed from the Japanese point of view. Rather than portraying the Japanese police as dishonest, the legend portrays them as courageous and bold. As soon as I started playing LoT, I began to correlate Japanese language and images with colonization and persecution. In spite of its cartoonish aesthetic, Legend has a compelling story that demonstrates the immersive power of indie games.
There are a few issues with the game’s portrayal of its characters. The first boss is a greedy landlord who is constantly the subject of Tianding’s jest because of his size. His rent-seeking ways, in my opinion, were the real weakness in his character. ‘Jap’ is used as a shorthand for ‘Japanese’ in the localization as well. White Americans used the term “Jap” to refer to Japanese-Americans during World War II, a racial slur that is unlikely to be problematic in Taiwanese. To avoid this unpleasant moment, Legend may have checked its unintended English connotations with more attention.
The Legend of Tianding comes dangerously near to doing too many different things at the same time, yet it ultimately succeeds. It’s a pleasure to play, and it’s also visually stunning. A strong plot threads its way across all of LoT’s separate aspects, reinventing numerous recognized genres in the process. Even now, I’m motivated to go back and finish the game to find out what really happened.