Some battles are the stuff of legend. The standout Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga is already an engrossing SRPG, and now there’s a new Legends DLC expansion enticing players to return to the land of Tahnra to join the ranks of the Nephilim Army. If you enjoy the base game, this DLC is undoubtedly worth the price of admission. However, newcomers to the saga might want to play the original first, especially since one of Legends’ key components is a much-touted New Game Plus feature.
Admittedly, it’s been a while since my initial review and playthrough of Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the implemented upgrades since then, including a visual update with even more detailed gorgeous character portraits by artist Sean “Raikoart” Tay. Legends is the grand opus of the updates thus far, offering eight new challenging story battles and giving players who’ve completed at least one run-through of the base game a chance to approach it differently in New Game Plus.
Naturally, utilizing the New Game Plus feature requires clear save data. You go through the routine of selecting difficulty levels and the like, the same as when starting up a regular new game file. After that, however, an awe-inspiring list of game-tailoring options awaits, such as choosing if you want to carry over characters from your previous playthrough or adjusting damage input and output according to your preferences. Using New Game Plus, you can tailor the gameplay in a new playthrough to be as easy or demanding as you want! The myriad of customization features helps ensure replayability for those who want to experiment with the title’s varied tactical systems.
Aside from the many possibilities available through the New Game Plus feature, Legends adds a handful of additional jobs to update your squads. Admittedly, I didn’t use some of them often, such as the Necromancer class, even though I can see how wielding legions of the undead during battle could be downright devastating. I became very fond of the War Cat job class and its Behemoth upgrade, which significantly raised their squads’ threat level. The defensive barrier-casting Oracle unit also found quite a few places amidst my squads. The secret job class Queen of Dragons that unlocks after the final Legends battle became my constant frontline squad leader due to its sheer and versatile power. Experimenting with the new units and seeing which ones work best regarding your playstyle and tactical combat is fun and satisfying.
Of course, the main component of the Legends DLC expansion is undoubtedly the eight additional story battles it unlocks. Similar to when the Gaiden battles open up in the main game, these are optional fights you can access after arriving at various checkpoints throughout the story. They’re akin to side quests, helping to flesh out the backstory of certain characters and events found within Symphony of War. The main menu has a helpful section dedicated to the Legends chapters, telling you when and how each unlocks.
Playing through a Legends fight is like any other battle in Symphony of War. There are mission objectives you must fulfill for each encounter, and you gain experience for every victory or surrender. Interestingly, these fights are often prequels to the main story, shedding light on significant events and characters that the main plot did not fully explore. For instance, you get to see the past of a young Barnabas before he became the master sergeant with a heart of gold and learn more about the surprisingly foresightful Antares before his ill-fated rebellion. Legends also explores why Raskuja was so intent on looking for mercenary work when you first encounter the feline Barek Tor in the main plot. Further battles delve further into the stories of master assassin Kuroda, the destructive mage Beatrix, and even how Duke Jaromir of the Duchy of Embor and General Ragavi of Sayunaa once joined forces before the Nephilim Army to stop an undead invasion. In fact, General Ragavi becomes a full-fledged story character with this expansion, at last receiving her gorgeous character art and even gaining bond conversations in the present-day story campaign. While the Legends events are often set in the past, you use your present-day army squads to fight them, with no real rhyme or reason for how that’s possible. Your best bet is to suspend disbelief about how your squads can be participating.
The Legends battles often have gimmicks to differentiate them from one another. For instance, Jaromir and Ragavi’s battles involve fighting hordes of replenishing undead until you can destroy their necromantic spawners. Raskuja’s battle requires hitting different colored tiles on the floor to open sealed areas, while Beatrix’s has you navigating teleportation devices. Kuroda’s map asks you to think stealthily, emphasizing ambushing from the shadows. They’re exciting gimmicks, though they sometimes overly prolong fights.
This prolonging factor is most accurate in the final Legends battle, Queen of Dragons. Interestingly, this chapter is the only one set in the present-day campaign, delving into the backstory of Azuros the Dragon Lord, a largely silent character from the base game. I like exploring dragon lore since it’s always better to have dragons with real story presence than just giant, fire-breathing lizards! The archer Jules’ little sister Abigayle also gets more story prominence and a vast level up in the form of a powerful secret job afterward. The fight, though, where you must traverse three different sections of a heavily fortified and large map, is incredibly time-consuming; I logged over three hours of playtime on this battle alone. As you can see, these Legends battles can require much time and effort to overcome them.
Ultimately, what I enjoy most about the Legends DLC is that it allows you to explore a truly enjoyable SRPG once more. It captures the replayability already inherent in the title thanks to elements such as the bond system, reinforcing it with added story battles and a versatile New Game Plus feature. I used Legends as an excuse to replay the game again, finding that I appreciated it more the second time. I can’t say if Legends is worth the additional price for newcomers to Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga. However, this expansion makes a compelling incentive to return to Tahnra for returning fans who already enjoy the base game.