The Legend of Alon D'ar is, at first glance, a typical fantasy-themed RPG set in the original world of Chandar, where brave heroes are challenged to fight menacing evil. To pen the epic tale of Alon D'ar, Stormfront Studios has brought in veteran author Christy Marx, perhaps best known in the gaming industry for her work on Sierra's Conquests adventure series. The story of Alon D'ar is typical sword-and-sorcery fare, pitting the hero Jarik against an overpowering menace while also challenging him to learn about himself. Although it features reasonably unique character designs, interesting concepts, and a huge explorable world, Legend of Alon D'ar fails in execution with substandard quality in nearly every respect.
At first glance, Legend of Alon D'ar will appear unimpressive, and as you progress through the fairly extensive story, little will dissuade you from this opinion. While the game does move at a steady pace, the few frames of animations and very low polygon count character models detract from an already disappointing environment. The water in particular looks positively bad, as if constantly about to spill out into a tidal wave. Legend of Alon D'ar does boast some very large environments that could attract players who enjoy exploration, but the few landmarks and sparse foliage, combined with the lack of an auto map, makes such ventures rather painful. When adventuring into the wilderness, you may notice flocks of birds flying together, as well as other such subtle background details that could have been noteworthy had the rest of the game measured up. A tolerable camera would have possibly helped Legend of Alon D'ar be more playable, but even this is yet another caveat to prospective purchasers--finding the right angle for the camera is a constant struggle, and the auto-realignment it naturally imposes will pull the vantage away from where it needs to be, even under manual control. The sound is par for the course, and some of the ambient effects heard while exploring can be quite pleasant. The sparse voice acting adds very little to the experience, though, and significant strides could have easily been made in the audio presentation.
Many of the things that RPG enthusiasts have taken for granted in recent years are sorely lacking in Legend of Alon D'ar, and they are immediately noticeable. The inventory system is painful to deal with, as similar items do not stack with their like, and characters are limited to only a handful of items apiece. The game's battle system, which will undoubtedly fluster even the most seasoned gamer, is a lesson in futility. To compensate for the real-time aspect of combat, weapons have a recharge time between attacks. In the span of this refresh period, monster mobs will inevitably tear you apart, leaving you with a confused look on your face as you wonder what just happened. Scrolling through items, magic orbs, and alternate weaponry in your inventory in the middle of a battle will cost you your life more often than not, making healing potions all but useless.
Collecting a large number of special items is another improperly implemented device used in Legend of Alon D'ar. While the rewards for the painstaking process of finding items--such as silver acorns and tree frogs--may appeal to those with undue amounts of time on their hands, this element of the game is as much a chore as any other. Similar side quests are strewn throughout Alon D'ar, but none are particularly compelling, and most feel like simple chores.
If Legend of Alon D'ar has a definite strong point, it would be the customization options available to players. Each character gains experience in the form of proficiency points, which with training can be spent in any manner desirable. The types of weapons your characters use, as well as their magical specialties, are yours to decide. However, in doing so, Stormfront has also given players control of a group of essentially lifeless characters who have little to set themselves apart from each other. You are rewarded, however, for breathing life into these characters by appearances that change over time as their skills progress. As further incentive to delve deeper into Alon D'ar, a second player can assist in controlling additional acquired characters, so two can share the duties of battle and experience the game cooperatively. The second player can jump in and out of the action at any time, which is a feature that many other games should consider implementing.
What will drive away most players is the learning curve, which in Legend of Alon D'ar is extremely unforgiving. If the battle system were easier to use or were more balanced, the lone protagonist would avoid countless horrible and frustrating deaths within the first few hours of your adventure. Monsters have incredible immunities to certain weapon types, and you will find yourself having to constantly swap between slashing, blunt, or chopping armaments in the slim hopes of surviving. In its effort to create exciting real-time combat, Stormfront has instead punished players who would want to fight tactical battles, rendering any value that the game's character customization factor may impart null and void. Legend of Alon D'ar is a game that should have undergone several more sessions of rigorous testing, which may have curtailed the serious graphical issues, gameplay flaws, and generally haphazard behavior, including a tendency for the game to lock up at inopportune moments and for monsters to magically appear from out of nowhere. Players who feel the desire to play an RPG on their PlayStation 2 would be better served by taking a look at any of the other RPGs released on the platform or perhaps investing in any of a number of excellent RPGs available for the original PlayStation. To put it bluntly, in a race with few competitors, Legend of Alon D'ar has firmly secured last place.