Indie Spotlight: Shrine's Legacy Preview
Updated: Sep 15, 2021
We're shedding some light on Indie Developer, Positive Concept Games, and previewing their demo- Shrine's Legacy.
The '90s were an unprecedented time for RPG-adventure games. Coming from the NES era where platformers were king, both due to the physical limitations of the console and the relative ease of producing that type of game compared to other genres of the time when the jump happened to the 16-bit era of games suddenly developers had a lot more firepower to work with.
That's not to say that adventure games didn't exist in those times - games like The Legend of Zelda helped create the template for the top-down visual style that is utilized by studios new and old alike to this day. Thus, companies like Nintendo and SquareSoft used the power of the SNES to take that style of game and elevate it with lush visuals and utilizing the dual sound chips of the console to create musical masterpieces that were starting to sound dangerously close to real music.
And so the 16-bit era of open-world adventure/RPG games were created, and they made an especially big impression on developers Alan Gabbard and Joseph Duke. Fast forward to today, and they've made some huge steps towards their vision of recreating that immersive, story-driven experience that captivated them as children. That vision is called Shrine's Legacy, a co-op-friendly action-adventure RPG by Positive Concept Games, of which I was fortunate enough to experience the roughly 2-hour demo.
Enshrined In Nostalgia
Shrine's Legacy wastes no time in doing what SNES games did best - setting up a plot rapidly and getting you into the action within minutes. During my playthrough, I worked my way through several fully-featured dungeons, solved interesting puzzles that let me work things out without hand-holding, and fought some very unique and well-thought-out bosses. Much is amiss in the world of Ardemia, but as I learned both in my playthrough and my interview with the team, Alan (The Creative Director for this title) was eager to create a plot that respected the core concepts of a hero's journey in a fantasy world, while subverting expectations by avoiding the many tropes of the genre.
“When people actually play the game, they see that the story pushes back against tropes and clichés"
"I find the premise of the game can come across as kind of generic on the surface. When people actually play the game, they see that the story pushes back against tropes and clichés," said Alan during our QTB podcast interview. Interestingly enough, he cites Avatar: The Last Airbender as his biggest influence. "It has a generic premise, but as you watch the show, it's all about the execution and how the characters are developed."
“I was pleasantly surprised by the unique stories on offer, with each of the two main characters having their own motivators and plot development..."
Alan's approach is evident in my playthrough of Shrine's Legacy. The protagonist Rio is set up for a "save the damsel in distress" trope with his childhood friend being put in danger very early on. But rather than have her be kidnapped, Rio finds a solution that keeps her and the other villagers safe - at least for now. Oftentimes when I play these types of modern-retro games, I fully expect all the plot clichés to exist, perhaps with some fourth-wall-breaking to prod fun at the ridiculous premises that come with the territory. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the unique stories on offer, with each of the two main characters having their own motivators and plot development in the slice of the game I was able to experience.
Magic In The Music
The music of Shrine's Legacy is both classic and modern - quite literally. With a single press of a key, the soundtrack (which the Technical Director, Joseph, cites Final Fantasy legend Nobuo Uematsu as a primary inspiration for) is able to switch in real-time between the classic 16-bit chiptune style to a modern arrangement with some live instruments replacing the synths of the original version. It's an incredible feature that I constantly utilized in between combat. If there was a new music track being played, I simply had to know how both versions compared to each other. That feature alone makes Shrine's Legacy a must-play for fans of the music style of these types of games.
“That feature alone makes Shrine's Legacy a must play for fans of the music style of these types of games."
By the end of the demo, I was already sold as a future backer for the upcoming Kickstarter campaign to complete the game. It felt like I had just eaten a home-cooked meal in my childhood home, and came downstairs to sit cross-legged style in front of my modest CRT TV to tackle that next dungeon and get a cool new spell. Some developers are better than others at evoking that level of nostalgia while still providing a truly unique offering. Positive Concept Games has already shown me a clear mastery of it, and if you want to see what I mean, you can play the full demo for free by signing up through their website. For a 90's kid such as myself, it was like a childhood memory that I never actually had - until now.
Visit their website for more information: https://www.positiveconceptgames.com/shrineslegacy/
Listen to the podcast interview
View the trailer below: