Review
Legends of Atlantis: Exodus

By Rituro - May 20th, 2012

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Ah, Atlantis. The 11,000-year-old namesake of the Atlantic Ocean has inspired countless authors from Plato to Francis Bacon and many, many more. There’s just something about the myth of a mighty island kingdom simply vanishing beneath the waves in a single day that sets forth the creative juices; be it Sir Isaac Newton’s Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms or Legacy Interactive’s Legends of Atlantis: Exodus. Since this site typically stays away from reviewing non-fiction treatises*, we’ll be looking at the game.

Legends of Atlantis is meant for the casual gamer. Tasked with saving the populace of Atlantis as the island begins to sink, your goal is to manage your workers by collecting enough resources to build your way to freedom. Roads allow the villagers to leave for higher ground, but to build them typically involves clearing fallen wood, mining rock piles and building support buildings and mines. All of these tasks require water, stone, more wood and, of course, enough energy for your workers (represented by crystals). Sounds complicated; but the actual game-play is a fairly simplistic time-management model: click on something and, if you meet the minimum requirement, a worker runs to it to perform the task. The trick is that you’re constantly fighting the clock – Atlantis is sinking, after all – and choosing the wrong task might hamstring you from having sufficient resources to complete a more critical one.

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Someone needs to clean their room before the apocalypse.

Add in little twists like: a merchant to trade resources with, a “wheel of fortune” of free resources and obstacles (like sandstorms, robbers, hydras and mechanical workers) and you have the template for an engaging strategy game for the casual gamer. I say “for the casual gamer” because, speaking personally, I just couldn’t sink my teeth into Legends. Reaching “Expert” status on each level was a no-brainer, and despite the twists added as you progress through the five worlds of the game, there was nothing really gripping to hold my interest. The sound and music were passable, the story was paper-thin and the character development was shallow – sure, if you’re looking for an iPad distraction or a nice browser game to pass the time, Legends is most certainly a high-calibre offering. Treated as a full-fledged strategy game, though, it’s somewhere on par with a tower defense game, where there needs to be story and character to set it apart from the hordes (see: Defense Grid: The Awakening‘s wonderful story of an AI remembering an alien war).

That’s not to say that Legacy Interactive didn’t try to make this game deep and interesting; it’s very clear that they did. In between the standard level structure are mid-world and end-world stages consisting of, respectively, a simplified Puzzle Bobble mini-game and an “I Spy” item hunt. In keeping with the game’s overall theme of time management, the faster you complete both tasks, the better your score. The only downside here is that even for a casual endeavour, the clear-the-shiny-balls game is absurdly easy and the click-on-the-hidden-item game is such a bizarre design choice that both seem like tacked-on additions to the core game as opposed to varied components of it. Believe me, I’m all for variety in my game-play – case in point, my love of X-COM‘s merger of base management and turn-based alien hunting – but the variety has to work and be relevant. The mini-games here do neither.

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Busy, busy, busy.

Ultimately, Legends of Atlantis: Exodus is not a “bad” game per se; it’s just a little light on depth and is clearly meant for a more casual crowd. Strategy game vets will be yearning for a bit more to do and a little more story development could have made the overall package so much better.

* – My apologies to those of you awaiting an in-depth analysis of Rudolf Steiner’s Mysticism at the Dawn of Modern Age.

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