[Review] Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown – Nintendo Switch

Written by Thomas Haroldsen
  • Developer: Silver Lemur Games
  • Publisher: Pineapple Works
  • Release Date: 20/04/2020
  • Price: £17.99 / $19.99
  • Review code provided by Pineapple Works

Video Review

Introducing Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown Review

We’re all familiar with the term; don’t judge a book by its cover. I can’t think of a more appropriate saying for Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown. This first-person dungeon crawler is heavily inspired by those classic Western RPGs from the 90s. To put that into perspective, this game takes its influence from those that paved the way nearly thirty years ago. To say it’s seeped in nostalgia is an understatement. I might brazenly add, this is one of my favorite gems of the year. To quote Nissa Campbell of TouchArcade, this game was “unputdownable.”

The Forgotten Crown

I rarely find stories of grandeur that hook me when I jump into this style of dungeon crawler. These games are more about discovering the world around you and exploring ancient ruins or obscure caverns from your own perspective. That’s not to say they don’t try, but I usually have low expectations as the gameplay is the crux for me. That happens to be the case with Legends of Amberland. You set off on adventure with a party of up to seven heroes and are tasked with finding a powerful and archaic relic. This quest will ping-pong you around the world while helping others along the way. The story served its purpose by getting my hearty heroes off the couch and into harm’s way but it did little more than to get our feet out the door so to speak.

To be completely honest, as my adventure went on, I forgot about the initial request altogether. I was so wrapped up in the side quests and exploring the world, that the narrative became an afterthought. The writing was done well enough but it’s delivered in blocks of impersonal text. There are nuggets of humor to be found when scouring the lands and helping sad souls survive their dreary existence. But more often are encounters with people who seem to air their woes and nothing more. It seemed like there were more side-quests intended that simply trail off.

The Grand Library

Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown gives you an open world with enemies aplenty. You can start with a predetermined party or form your own team of all-stars. Once I carefully constructed my crew, I was ready to travel the lands. The control scheme was a little confusing at first. Relying heavily on holding down the ZL trigger to accomplish anything in the menu was cumbersome. It didn’t take long to adjust to the style but using a simplified setup would have been preferred. Though the same technique is required for combat, the battles are straightforward and streamlined.

Since combat is turn-based, you have ample time to plan your attacks. With seven party members, there’s no shortage of customization with an array of spells at your disposal. If you opt for more brawn, you’ll find the options lacking. My melee fighters were limited to their basic attack and a single skill they can only use once between resting. If you have a wall of warriors, battles come down to brutish slugfests.

The levelling system is organic and flows well with the pacing. You do have to be in a town or castle to “train” your team to their next level, but that was never a problem. In fact, it was quite satisfying after long excursions to return to a safe haven and jump several levels. Movement on the world map is the same as in a dungeon. It’s all done one step at a time on a grid. Fortunately you can unlock fast travel early on to easily jump from place to place, considering you’ve been there before. The mapping system is automatic and most dungeons are only a few levels so graph paper isn’t necessary. Legends of Amberland is littered with caves, castles and towers to search, and all the while I felt like I was on an epic adventure.

The Royal Castle

The graphics in Legends of Amberland are rooted in their 90s pixelated persuasion. There are a slew of character portraits to choose from. All of which are displayed nicely with more than enough options for a budding band of adventurers. The enemies are even more pixelated and have enough variety to keep things fresh. The outer world itself is flat with occasional trees or mountains that pop up. Enemies aren’t random and can be seen moving around the map. Once you move indoors, you’ll feel walled in with occasional levers to pull or bosses to destroy. One detail I noted was the fact caves were more random while buildings were symmetrical. Little things like that helped the adventure feel more authentic.

As for the music, it was equal parts calm and relaxing or on the verge of irritating. The outer world has a tranquil chiptune fit for the retro trappings which never overstayed its welcome. Some of the dungeons on the other hand had tones that eschewed their presence. For the short term they weren’t too bad, but some of the longer boss battles could have mixed things up with a wide array of songs instead of single melody on repeat. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t a lot of additional sound effects. Save for the chords to indicate a hit or a block and a few spells, Legends of Amberland takes a simplistic approach.

The Deadly Dungeon of Doom

I encountered no bugs or glitches in Legends of Amberland. The game ran well in both handheld mode and while docked. With the amount of text presented at any given time, I was worried it would be difficult to read. My concerns were unfounded though, as the presentation showed well on either screen. I preferred playing in handheld mode as Legends of Amberland is greatly geared for quick juants. Play sessions were made more accessible with the ability to save anywhere and most dungeons could be tackled rather quickly. It was a natural fit for gaming on the go.

Final Wrap

Though Legends of Amberland isn’t without flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed my time facing deadly dragons and creeping through mysterious lairs. I found myself glued to my Switch well past 4 a.m. on a few occasions. This style of game isn’t for everyone and the high price tag may turn people away. If you’re a fan of first-person dungeon crawlers, then Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown will keep you busy for hours on end.

Pros

  • Vast World to Explore
  • Numerous Dungeons to Crawl
  • Great Character Creator

Cons

  • Forgettable Story
  • Repetitive Music
  • Cumbersome Controls

Verdict
Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown has the right combination of retro vibes and modern tweaks despite story and control flaws.
4/5

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