Lionheart: legacy of the crusader
The first thing a sharp eyed PC gamer (such as yourself perhaps) might notice about Lionheart: legacy of the crusader is that it boasts the Black Isle logo. Though it has the label, the now defunct developer of classics such as Fallout and Icewind Dale did not have all that much to do with Lionheart's development. After a couple of hours into the game the lack of polish from developer Reflexive Entertainment when you compare it to the aforementioned Black Isle games really starts to show.
Set in Europe during the Spanish Inquisition, and with a lot of magic and sorcery mixed in for good measure, Lionheart's story gets credit for being different. Gameplay starts off well too, as you enter the bustling city of Barcelona you get to know the different factions and eventually choose to side with one.
A few hours into Lionheart and things start to lose momentum, fast. As you start to encounter more and more enemies you will find yourself using the quick load and quick save functions in a correlating fashion. Eventually you will enter serious hack and slash territory, which is necessarily not a bad thing (see: Icewind Dale), but the broken combat mechanics will often slow you down to the point of dire frustration. Playing a caster in the mid section of the game is extremely cumbersome due to the reliance on floating mana potions and an agonisingly slow mana regeneration rate. At times I had to walk away from the game completely to let my mana regenerate so that I had enough to take on the next group of creatures.
Throughout your adventure you will pickup companions who are supposed to help you on your journey, but they die so easily and take so long to gain lost health back that it hardly seems worth it.
While Lionheart does have its fair share of issues, there are some redeeming points that make the game at least serviceable. The Perks system from Fallout is also here; reading through the variety of and choosing a Perk every 3rd level I found to be very engaging. The character development through perks and the good, but not great, talent system were enough to keep me going in the really rough spots.
Unusually there are very few options to tweak in Lionheart and the resolution is fixed to 800×600. The interface does its job for the most part, the only exception being that you have to turn health bars back on after every game and quick load, and as far as I'm concerned find trap should be automatic. DnD rules be damned its just annoying putting talent points into it and having to re-enable it after every single encounter.
Not much to say about the graphics either, spell effects are better than the terrain, and the audio is better than both. The music and what little voice overs there are make up for the average landscapes.
Perhaps the biggest factor Lionheart: Legacy of the crusader has in its favor is the simple fact that you have probably never played it, or even heard of it. Rpg games based on 2d engines are, for the most part, a thing of the past today, and with this in mind Lionheart could be worth a look if you've played through the better examples (Icewind and Baldurs Gate, etc). Thanks to digital distribution you can pick it up pretty cheap ($5.99 from good old games).
Lionheart: Legacy of the crusader is available now from gog.com or anywhere you can find old PC games.