Legend of Keepers (2021) – Impressions

Legend of Keepers is a game that was in early access for a long time, but I only recently discovered it because it got its full release on PC, Switch and Stadia about a week or two ago. 

I must say, I can’t believe there are not more people playing and talking about this game, because I can’t seem to get enough of it. I hope that it gets more recognition, and that the big gaming outlets start talking about it at some point, because it’s a really good game and deserves to have more people talking about it.

I love the art-style. I love the character models. The animations are great. I really like the music. I want a soundtrack release for this game. It’s a surprisingly synthwave soundtrack, which I really didn’t expect for a medieval, fantasy setting.

But what is Legend of Keepers?

It’s a Dungeon Keeper style game where you play as one of the three main characters who runs a dungeon. The game has a sense of humor about it, acting like you are a store manager who has to manage a set of employees and fear your corporate overlords should you fail. 

The employees you’re managing are the monsters and creatures you use to fight incoming heroes and adventurers who are invading your dungeon to try to take your gold.

There are elements of tower defense and turn-based RPG combat, and some rogue-like elements.

You’re managing your way through several acts or missions, that each increase in difficulty as you level your main character, and gain promotions.

There is a timeline of events to work through in each act, with you selecting what you want to do from a series of available activities. One week you may use some gold to buy some level-ups for your monsters to make them stronger in the next defense phase. The next week, you may choose to workout your dungeon keeper to make him more powerful. The week after that you may buy a new monster for your team, or deal with a random event that popped up that week. And that event may reward you in some interesting way.

And then finally, there are the weeks with a defense phase.

During these phases, you have several rooms to set traps, or assign your monsters to defensive positions, and then the heroes enter and have to battle through each room for a chance to challenge the dungeon keeper, so they can steal your gold.

And when the heroes enter the rooms where you’ve assigned monsters, you get to take control for turn-based battles.

You can place three monsters in these rooms, and you have to be fairly strategic about whether you place them in the front-line, back-line or in the middle. And how you choose their placement will depend on the monster’s stats and abilities.

And don’t be surprised if the monsters die, and die repeatedly. 

In most cases, they’re no match for the adventurers coming into the dungeon.

But that’s why you, as the dungeon keeper, have two rooms to place monsters, two rooms to place traps, and a few other tricks up your sleeve to accumulate enough damage on the adventurers to knock them out before they can steal your gold.

And that’s just the set-up in the early going. As you continue to advance through each act, the number of rooms and the available assets you have to stop the adventurers continues to expand.

But, of course, as your arsenal of monsters and traps expands, the heroes become more powerful.

That’s why you have to play your cards right during the weeks leading up to each defense phase.

That includes letting some of your monsters rest every now and then, especially if they’ve been knocked out a few times already.

Every monster has a segmented bar of motivation that drops as they get knocked out during defense phases. It turns out getting killed and reanimated takes its toll after a while.

So on top of levelling them when you can, and managing their placement during defense, you’ll need to have enough monsters to defend your gold even while some sit out to regain some motivation.

During a defense phase you also get to choose whether to take on an easier group of adventurers, a set of veteran adventurers, or some tougher heroes or even a group of champions.

Each of those options will grant you different rewards. You may get more gold to spend on upgrades depending on which you choose. Defending against adventurers may reward you with a new monster for your group, but defending against some veterans may give you a useful artifact that gives some interesting bonuses.

Now, if you happen to fail to protect your gold against the invaders, that’s where the rogue-like elements come in. You’ll lose the monsters you built up and the artifacts you collected, and you’ll have to start the act over from the beginning at week 1. However, you do get to keep experience gained, which will level up your dungeon keeper allowing you to put points into a skill-tree-like set of talents that make them more powerful for the next run.

Thankfully, you do not lose progress from act to act if you fail, meaning you can fail on act 3 for example, without having to go back and play through acts 1 and 2 for another shot at it.

Now it may sound like there’s a lot going on. Almost to the point where you might worry that the turn-based battle system ends up feeling like an after-thought.

But that is not the case here.

The turn-based battles were definitely thoughtfully made. Every character has a unique set of abilities that does different types of damage and works together with another character’s abilities. So you’ll want to be mindful of how you place each monster and which attacks you use and in which order.

About my only complaint here is that you don’t get to preview the heroes you’re up against before starting the battle, meaning the game puts you in a position in which you may not be able to properly plan out your best possible defensive positions.

For instance, say I’m going up against a hero who hits with ice-based abilities, and he’s weak to air or fire-based abilities. Well, I may have just put my strong fire-based attacker on the sideline to rest. And I had planned on using a character I thought would be my front-line tank in room 1, but it turns out he’s a bit weak against ice abilities, and that means I may have to put a different, weaker character there instead because I didn’t know what I was going up against.

This is where, generally speaking, having a lot of monsters at your disposal, and not getting into a rut where you rely heavily on just a few monsters ends up being pretty helpful.

And the character designs and animations here are excellent.

There’s a real weightiness, a real punchiness, to each attack. You almost feel each attack landing. The sound effects and visuals here are great.

And there’s a lot of potential for additional content with this type of game. They could add another dungeon master and a series of missions to complete. They could add more monsters to use in battle. They could add more artifacts.

There’s a lot of potential room to grow and expand this game. But I already love it.

It’s the kind of game that if limited run games or strictly limited games did a physical, collectors edition release for the Switch or the next gen consoles, I would pre-order that as soon as it was announced.

Although, as much as I might like to have a physical copy of the game on console, I think it is the kind of game that’s better played with a mouse. 

There is controller support, and I did give it a try. It’s certainly playable with a controller if that’s how you want to play it, but it’s much quicker and easier to hover over things with your mouse to get a readout of all the stats and information you need before making a decision. And that’s generally less pleasant to do using a D-pad on a controller. But if you’re used to using a controller, you can definitely do that.

Anyway, like I said, I can’t get enough of Legend of Keepers. I think it’s a fantastic game. I’m having a lot of fun with it. It’s the perfect kind of game to play in short bursts, if you’re like me and don’t always have a ton of time. You can just do some management, get through a couple of weeks, or do one round of battle and then exit the game and pick it back up later.

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