Egglia: Legend of the Redcap is a beautifully polished RPG and simulation that prioritizes developing relationships with its characters over embarking on epic quests. Although throughout the course of its journey you’ll be tasked with slaying monsters and rebuilding the entire world piece by piece, the true measure of success in Egglia is your ability to bring its many different races together in a single village that becomes home to everyone.
The story begins when our protagonist, Chabo, mysteriously appears in a very small town in the kingdom of Egglia. He’s discovered by an elf named Robin and her faerie partner, Marigold, who are initially terrified of the unexpected visitor: Chabo is a Redcap, a specific race of goblin known for their violence and affinity for fighting. This Redcap, however, proves to be gentle and peaceful, seemingly due to the fact that his horns—the source of Redcaps’ rage—are broken. Robin and Marigold welcome Chabo into their town, which is the only part of the world that currently exists.
The kingdom of Egglia was broken up into pieces and sealed away in eggs after the Great Ogre War. Robin explains to Chabo that it is her duty to find these eggs, release their contents, and return the world to its former glory. But while she has an egg in her possession, she has been unable to open it. Luckily for her and the rest of Egglia, goblins have the ability to open these eggs: Chabo releases the Willowwacks Forest next to the town and agrees to help Robin complete her world-rebuilding quest.
Your time in Egglia is split between two primary goals: finding more eggs to recreate the kingdom with their contents and expanding the town founded by Robin and Marigold. These goals go hand-in-hand, as characters you meet within the previously sealed locations will usually choose to move to your town and often have eggs in their possession. Exploring the locations within these eggs will sometimes lead to events that progress the main story, revealing more details about Chabo’s and Egglia’s pasts, while others will offer side quests revolving around specific characters’ personal wishes.
Each time you discover an egg, you choose a place to open it on the map screen and its location then becomes available to visit. Egglia is made up of a variety of biomes, ranging from forests and fields to deserts and caves, and some areas will impact others if they are positioned next to each other. Place the swamp next to the Willowwacks, for instance, and a fertile grove of trees appears within the forest. Without bonus areas, each location contains three stages that unlock in progression as you explore and watch any related stories unfold.
That exploration takes place on a hex-based grid spread across each floor within a stage. Instead of free-running around as you would in a standard adventure RPG, Egglia uses a turn-based movement and battle system controlled by rolling dice. At the start of every turn, you’ll roll a die (or two if you have +die ability) which determines how many spaces you can move. This number also controls your physical attack power if you strike an enemy with your sword. On each turn, you can move and complete one action out of the following: attack an enemy, open a treasure chest, chop down a tree, use a spirit, or simply wait and perform no action. The number you rolled is split between movement and your action, so if you roll a six and move three spaces, you’ll then have a three leftover to boost your attack power. Or you could stand still and use the six in its entirety for a stronger strike.
Floors are fairly small and self-contained, and the turn limit on each stage requires you to reach the exit without wasting too much time. There are almost always plenty of turns provided to hunt down all the treasure and take out all the monsters you’d like, but the focus on shorter excursions across multiple stages is the perfect fit for mobile. While the dice-based system might seem luck-based at first glance, there’s still plenty of opportunity for strategy: rolling a high number gives you the choice of running from an enemy or attempting to take them down in one hit while a smaller number might best be used on opening a chest. Floors often contain choke points where you can flee to avoid being surrounded, or objects like trees you can hide behind. The mysterious hole present on each floor spawns monsters every five turns, but it can be destroyed to prevent new enemies from appearing. And the fact that your mana points—used to summon spirits—generate only one per turn sometimes requires waiting a few rolls before diving into the fray.
Those spirits add another layer of strategy to exploration. Before entering a stage, you can equip two spirits to your Assault slots and one to Support: every spirit boosts your attack and defense (taking the place of weapons and armor) and has their own Assault and Support abilities that will then be available based on who and where you have equipped them. For instance, the fire spirit, Sizzic, does fire damage when equipped as Assault and raises attack and fire resistance when equipped to Support. To actually use a spirit’s power you need to spend the mana points earned on each turn, so when you first enter a stage you won’t have access to their abilities. Certain spirits that are friendly with one another also have special powers when placed on the same team, providing additional bonuses if you equip them at the same time.
You’ll recruit spirits by leaving food out in town, attracting random party members based on their element and dish preferences. There are a staggering 70 (140 with evolutions) spirits to collect, each with their own stats and set of abilities, although many skills overlap (Sizzic isn’t the only attack-raising spirit). Between their skills, elemental affinity, and team preferences, there’s an almost endless combination of useful options to take with you into the monster-filled stages.
When you’re not exploring the kingdom of Egglia, you’ll be spending time in your rapidly growing town. The characters you meet within the newly opened eggs will often come back to town and request to move in. It’s your job to help gather the resources they need to build a house, as well as fulfill residents’ wishes on a day-to-day basis. Most requests involve finding some sort of item, like fish from a dungeon or furniture from the local shop, and completing these tasks improves your friendship with the requester. Becoming close friends with characters will unlock new eggs and quests, as well as improve their item-searching abilities if you take them exploring with you.
While much of Egglia revolves around fetch quests and collecting different items, spirits, eggs, and so on, the cyclical nature of these tasks makes them feel consistently rewarding. Everything you find or give away helps you make progress in some fashion, either towards additional story points or improving your team and companions. There are occasionally moments where an actual goal is not clear because you need to “grind” friendship points to unlock your next egg, but these are usually short-lived as long as you’re actively completing your villagers’ requests.
The other reason this friendship-based progression system works is because Egglia’s residents are completely charming. The characters you meet as you explore are well written and each have their own unique personalities, ranging from sincere and dedicated Robin to loud and snarky Marigold to lovesick and “milady”-spouting Brown. Everyone we met immediately became our new favorite character: the deadpan gremlin twins that are trying to take over the world through capitalism, the supposedly soft-spoken gnomes that are boomingly passionate about furniture, the stone-loving orc who “not good at thinking. Except for rocks. And Euclidean geometry!” Each resident’s side quest is entertaining and often hilarious, whether you’re endorsing a sham marriage or simply alleviating a talking plant’s boredom. The entirety of Egglia is lighthearted and lovable, and even just chatting with its residents is a treat in itself.
Our only complaints in the entirety of this massive, engrossing RPG-slash-town-building simulation revolve around the online and social features that feel shoehorned in. Despite being a fully premium, single-player game, Egglia requires a consistent online connection. While this need isn’t felt much when out exploring, within the town itself you’ll encounter tons of loading screens, “connecting” messages, and—if you’re in an area with the slightest internet hiccup—”error connecting to server” pop-ups. When playing with a strong Wi-Fi signal, we didn’t feel too slowed down, but in areas with a spotty connection we had to retry connection a frustrating number of times.
The social features aren’t frustrating themselves, but they seem somewhat unnecessary overall. You can “follow” other players and send them tickets for the lottery tent that opens up a few quests into the main story. This tent awards random prizes, including some furniture that cannot be found elsewhere in the game. You can also visit other players’ homes to see their décor and receive an item as a gift. While this is a nice way to get extra elixirs for companions or eggshells for moving locations around your map, it just feels like something of an “We need a social feature” afterthought.
Finally, there are some timers in the game that operate on real world time as opposed to an in-game clock. These are attached to collecting new spirits when you leave food out, growing potatoes and ore to improve your spirits, building or expanding houses, and the “morale” of residents that you take into dungeons as item-finding companions. While these timers are not really a hindrance—they’re fairly short and never prevent you from making progress or exploring dungeons—we would have preferred some of them (companions’ morale especially) refresh based on in-game activity instead. Legend of Mana, which Egglia is arguably a spiritual successor to, used an in-game clock to determine produce’s growth within the garden, with actions like traveling between locations moving time forward.
Yet in spite of these few less-than-ideal inclusions, Egglia: Legend of the Redcap is a stellar adventure from start to open-ended finish. Its strategy RPG dice system and wide variety of equippable spirits allow for different experiences each time you explore a location. Its large cast of characters is filled with personality and humor, and each resident you recruit is lovable in their own way. The little touches sprinkled throughout highlight the sincere attention to detail put into the game by its team and the influences of the Mana series itself: the world is alive, from butterflies and birds flitting around town to Chabo’s ears twitching during conversations; the furniture residents request is actually added to their homes once delivered; the diverse cast of races and characters all have their own histories, dialects, interests. Quests do emphasize item fetching over anything else, but to the end of building relationships, your town, and the very kingdom itself. Watching your efforts turn into a living, breathing world is a fantastic experience, but the real reward is embarking on this journey with your new neighbors and friends.