When you’ve got a talent unlike that of people around you, it’s a source of pride. Life is about constantly pushing your limits, always trying to be the best you can. The best way to improve a talent is through practice. In Steven Lavalle’s Légende, the player character is an exceptional jumper. The omniscient narrator encourages this talent by setting up increasingly high columns for you to leap over. The narrator gives you encouragement after you finish each level. It talks down to you like a teacher encouraging a struggling student.
You are initially unaware of your talent until the narrator comments on your nice knees. The narrator suggests you take up jumping. In the next level, your newfound skill is apparent. You leap each column with ease, and you’re met at the level’s end with more encouragement. Any skill has a difficulty curve, and you’re still at the low end of yours.
As you clear each level, your jumping ability increases. In the first jumping level, you must hold the jump button down to reach the top of the column, but by later levels you can clear the top of the columns without the same amount of effort. Soon, your avatar can jump many times its own height. As you get better and better at a skill, your potential seems limitless. It’s easy to forget that you may ever run into trouble in your newfound talent. But in the penultimate level, you’re presented with a single extremely tall column. Even with your incredible skill, you can’t surpass the unsurpassable. The narrator notices your failure and drops you in a completely flat level. “There,” you’re told, “isn’t running fun?”
That last, incredibly high column is the top of your difficulty curve. Légende shows how easy it is to give up and stick with what you know you can’t fail doing. The narrator’s last line might not come from the narrator at all, but from yourself, an attempt at self-assurance that giving up was the right choice. That last line also freezes the game on its screen. This is a grim outcome for your avatar, as it implies the avatar will always stick with easy running instead of developing its jumping skill.
You’re told, “work hard and you can do anything” during the game, yet this piece of advice is quickly discarded once your avatar encounters a challenge it can’t surpass. Légende shows that practicing skills can give you abilities you never dreamed of, like jumping many times your own height, and that giving up too quickly is never a good choice. If you’ve found a new talent, don’t give up.