I can sum up Legends of the Universe in two words: Mega Man and Metroidvania.
I could stop the review right there, because LotU is exactly what to expect after marrying these two words. A 2D sidescrolling platformer, developed and published by LunarCore, this is their first game published on Steam. This one truly stands out amongst the first-timers, despite it being rough around the edges,
It’s an absolute delight to play.
If you’ve played any classic Mega Man title for the NES, then you’ll know exactly how to handle LotU. The developers must have been inspired by the series, because the controls, looks, and overall feel of this game resemble Mega Man quite a bit, and in a good way.
Firstly, a controller is recommended. However, mouse and keyboard is just as easy to use. Key bindings would have been nice, though not imperative. The fact is, controls are tight, responsive and simple; they make it easy to pick up and play. I never felt that a jump was unfair because of bad design or a faulty delay. You run, jump, shoot, and occasionally slide. That’s about it!
Though the paint job and mechanics came out of the Mega Man universe, LotU’s complexity stems from a Metroidvania-style map, making you go back and forth between areas to advance and collect new power-ups and weapons. And how fun it is. Getting into a new area and finding a powerup to increase your rate of fire, jumping ability, or health is extremely satisfying and triggers a sense of accomplishment. Traveling from one area to the next never feels like a slog, and there’s always something new and entertaining around the corner.
Since LotU is a 2D sidescroller, graphics aren’t very complex. They suffice to showcase the inside of a technological spaceship, yet they’re somewhat bland. The main color palette consists of shades of gray and silver, and most backgrounds look identical to the last. It’s a shame: I would’ve liked to see more contrasting colors to help the backgrounds pop.
In any case, your focus is constantly moving, shooting is the focus, and hence graphics aren’t an issue. Sound and music are simple, but engaging enough. Expect simple techno beats, sound effects that take full stage, with little blips and bleeps each time you shoot. Collect a powerup, or kill an enemy, if you’re old enough you’ll remember sounds of the early NES game, which help give LotU a classic, nostalgic feel to it.
LotU’s story is probably its biggest flaw.
It felt like a needless attempt to tell a story of epic proportions, unnecessary most of the time, sometimes even forced. Dialogue and the overall flow of the narrative were awkward at best, and during cutscenes, I couldn’t wait to get back into the action. I do appreciate the developers trying, and the story is not “bad” per say, but with its modern feel and twists, it also clashes again the classical feel you’ll found in the gameplay, graphics, and sound. For the players’ sake, let it be next time, when everything else speaks for itself and defines LotU for what it is. A great game.
LotU is a must-have for any fan of the Mega Man series who wants to try something new. It does have its hiccups, mainly its story and lack of customization, but with its graphics, sound, and gameplay, it’s clear that the developers put their hearts into it.