In the world of RPGs, few games obtain the now rare supreme old-school status. I'm not sure if it's the character sprites, the amount of time spent building character personalities and relationships, or the reasoning of the evil forces, but A Tear of Vermilion is the most traditional RPG I've played in a long time. With that in mind, The Legend of Heroes also manages to be a game in which younger gamers and action/RPG fans may not like. The sheer amount of reading combined with the overall slow pace of the story will turn a number of people off. This is not to say it isn't a rewarding adventure, the game really does have a fantastic end.
A Tear of Vermilion takes place in the land of El Phildin, through many temples, ports, and towns. On your way you'll be introduced to a wide variety of NPCs and playable characters, each having their own history and purpose. A region mostly populated by followers of the Bardus church, it is mostly a peaceful land. Unfortunately for the citizens, their cherished god of light has a counterpart, Octum, the god of darkness. Throughout Avin's adventure, you'll fight your wait to the truth, uncovering little bits of knowledge as you continue forward meeting new characters and even the original spirits of the land. Although it is a little generic, light vs. dark, the story is really one of the best parts of the game. The only downfall occurs when you wish to advance the story and your party keeps getting stuck with minor side quests left and right. Some of the tasks you are given are just complete time-wasters, not to be discouraged, It does provide for a longer and possibly even more fulfilling journey in the end. The story is well portrayed and is definitely more than a generic attempt at an RPG, thumbs up!
This game is definitely for the better for having as much character development as it does, the gameplay alone certainly couldn't make the game. With a total count of over a dozen playable characters, you can expect to switch party members at every stop. Yes, thanks to a huge cast, the game provides just as much character development as time spent traveling monster-ridden lands. The gameplay doesn't have a lot counting against it, it's a pretty simple matter of attack, magic, item, skill, death, wait, and escape. As you would expect, death attacks require a full gauge to be performed, magic required MP, and skills must be obtained through leveling up. You also have to be aware of your place on the battlefield, as many magic attacks have a radius that will harm anyone in its way.
Unfortunately, the game is just too easy for its own good. The gamers that will enjoy the game's old-school approach will surely be let down when they make it all the way to the final boss without a challenge. This brings me to my next gripe, a lack of meaningful boss fights is clearly present. That and the large number of required side quests really brings a level of disappointment that I would not have otherwise reached playing the game. The gameplay does deserve some respect. Character and enemy positions on-screen and the ability of magic attacks does make for a fun little challenge. It's not easily controlled, but it is a nice diversion. The music was pretty average, but it's a portable game so it's expected, and the sound effects were okay too. Graphically, the game also reaches fairly mediocre heights. At first glance I was a fairly impressed with the landscape and buildings visually, but nothing really stood out, and the character sprites were almost too simplistic. The young PSP will definitely host many better looking games than this in future productions.
In the end, you're left with a truly is a heart-wrenching story. If you can see between the side quests, the story twists and turns into a tearful, holistic finish that will satisfy anyone that finds their way to the stunning finale. Aside from a really low difficulty level, I totally recommend this portable. Half bright shining ageless gem, half dimmed and gloomy uncertainty; The Legend of Heroes manages to be worthy of being one of the initial RPGs for the PSP.