When we reviewed Symphony of War in 2022, we came away from the game appreciating its virtues as a tactical sandbox. It’s not the most tightly balanced strategy experience, but there are lots of things to try and units to collect. The Symphony of War Legends DLC adds to this sandbox appeal. There are extra maps! There are new units! And did you want some goodies to collect and equip? It’s got those too.
The new Symphony of War Legends stuff is very much paired with the main campaign, unlocking map by map as you progress through the main chapters. There’s some flashback stories for some of the game’s side characters, like Ragavi or Beatrix. You’ll also find a few thoughtful map designs, challenging you to push to particular objectives or split your forces. Compared to the existing stages, these are definitely more gameplay-first. The game’s developer, Dancing Dragon Games, spent more time making maps look like maps in those! These, though? What if you’re defending a square area from all sides? Or you’re navigating a labyrinthine teleporter puzzle? They can be interesting to fight, to be clear, but they aren’t here for the world-building.
You can also use a new earnable currency, Memory Fragments, to essentially buy back units from previous campaigns. This includes copies of story characters, too — now with accompanying question mark appended to their names to indicate their dubious place in canon — though these units are significantly more expensive than generic counterparts. We get why these might cost a bit more, but as it is? Sure, you’ll pass on a copy of your protagonist, but you can snag a six-pack of powerful dragon riders with those funds and that’ll break the game way more.Image via Dancing Dragon Games
Does the base game adjust to the added experience or extra fighters? No, it does not. Included in the New Game+ options is a wealth of ways to adjust the difficulty how you’d like. This is nice, we guess? You can scale up elements to be much harder to overcome. We’d definitely have appreciated a defined, standardized challenge mode that balances with the new stuff in mind, though. As it is, we played a fresh campaign with just the base resources and quickly steamrolled these “challenge maps” as soon as they unlocked.
As with the base game, the new Symphony of War: Legends content has a serious disconnect between story and gameplay. Dancing Dragon clearly cares about the lore of the world, and wants you to care too! But the mechanics don’t align. The result? You’ll click through (or skip) some long elements of backstory, then play a map set in the past that somehow also has all of your current-day armies to use.
With so many options in the original release’s sandbox, it can be a bit of a challenge to add even more units to the mix. And it isn’t particularly game-changing to have? There’s a necromancy mechanic you can use now, wielding stacks of skeletons that grow when they kill foes instead of individual units that level up. And big battle cats! They’re fun too, competing with dragons as two-tile selections with a lot of health and strength. The appeal of new classes is expanding the wealth of battle options, but Symphony of War might have already had too many. That means there aren’t many more facets of combat to explore with added mechanics.
The Symphony of War: Legends DLC doesn’t really patch up any of the title’s weaknesses, which is a shame. Then again, it doesn’t try to? It feels more like a board game expansion: “here are some more ideas we had, shuffle ‘em in.” Playing with these new pieces in the campaign can be fun, but it would have been way more compelling if the extra maps were instead a standalone campaign with more of a focus on the new units and really any attempt at all to balance the difficulty.
Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga is available now on PC. For more information on the base game, check out our review. The Symphony of War Legends DLC launched on August 28, 2023. Developer Dancing Dragon Games and publisher Freedom Games have expressed interest in porting the game to consoles, but there’s no news on that yet.
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