Fallen Legion + originally released on PS4 and PS Vita, with a Switch version in the works and plays something like a highly polished mobile game. But, is that a bad thing?
A Mobile Game That’s Not Mobile (Unless You’re Playing the Vita Version).
I didn’t know much about Fallen Legion + upon my decision to review the game, and when I googled it, I almost passed it up. Right off the bat, I want to say I am glad I didn’t, but is it worth your time? Hopefully, this review will help give you some guidance to make your choice.
Fallen Legion was developed by YummyYummyTummy, Inc and published in house. The first game in the series is Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire for PS4 followed by Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion for PS Vita, both released on July 18th 2017. Both games recently released for PC on January 5th 2018 together, hence the ‘+’, with a Switch version to follow soon.
The game plays almost like a side-scrolling beat-’em-up, but unlike most side-scrolling beat-’em-up’s you don’t have the ability to roam around the area while you are currently… well… beating enemies up. It plays quite like a mobile RPG where you battle waves of enemies each level. After each wave is defeated, you move on to the next. There’s more to it, which we will get in to more deeply later in this review, but that’s the gist of the game in a nutshell.
So what’s Fallen Legion + all about, you ask? Well, as stated above, it’s a side-scrolling beat-’em-up with some light RPG elements. At least that’s my take on it, but before I get into the mechanics on how the game plays, let’s explore some of the immediate things I noticed when I fired it up for the first time.
I began with Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire and right away was tasked with choosing to play as one of two characters. I started my journey as Cecille, mainly because when I read a short synopsis she was the main character mentioned. I had no idea who Legatus Leandur was but I’ll get to him in a bit. For now, let’s explore what Cecille’s story has to offer.
One thing that struck me as odd was going to the main menu after picking the character you’d play as. It makes more sense once you start bouncing between the two characters, but it threw me off at first. I was scared that upon reloading the game, I’d lose my save data if I decided to play as Legatus. Don’t worry, you don’t, so feel free to swap between the two at will. In fact, I almost recommend this so that you can experience both sides of the story simultaneously. It’s not necessary, but I eventually did that and found that I enjoyed it a little more.
Once in the main menu, you have your typical options: New game, Options, Settings, Continue, and so on. I did notice a very intimidating game mode called One Life Mode, which speaks for itself. Since I don’t feel like purchasing a new monitor and replacing my window after throwing said monitor through said window, I opted out of playing this mode. Instead, I chose the much less intimidating and much more standard ‘new game’.
One minor gripe to note here is the lack of instruction on what the ‘enter’ key is. Maybe I’m just PC illiterate – I recently joined the PC Master race – so maybe the problem is just me, but I spent a good 15-20 seconds pressing buttons on my mouse and keyboard, practically mimicking that scene in Zoolander when Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller were trying to operate a computer until I figured out that ‘F’ was the enter key.
Anyway, after jumping that hurdle I was tossed into an opening scene with a good amount of dialogue. Soon thereafter I was thrust into the battle tutorial.
Now, I will get into the battle mechanics in a moment but I’d want to bring up something else first. Maybe it’s because I have spent my recent years playing Destiny 1 and 2, Assassins Creed, Final Fantasy 15 and other AAA titles that I forgot what else was out there and the seemingly small but uniquely rare things they could offer. Anyone who is worth their weight in video game knowledge knows that music plays an enormous role in how we form our opinions on a memorial game. Fallen Legion + immediately ushered in a wave of beautifully orchestrated music that brought to mind the likes of Castlevania Symphony of the Night and the early Final Fantasy’s. Not to say Fallen Legion’s music will reach the same heights these other games have, but I was at once impressed with the score. My first thoughts were ‘Oh wow, some great speed/power/symphonic metal!’ And anyone who knows me know’s I love metal. In fact, I’m blasting some Dream Theater as I write this review.
That aside, the music was impressive and will be one of many things sure to bring me back to this game.
Another thing to note is the artwork. Everything is hand-drawn and looks amazing.
Grab Your Sword and Shield. It’s Time to Fight!
Now we get into the meat of the game: The Battle System.
If the beautifully hand-drawn characters and background, or the masterfully penned music doesn’t bring you back to play Fallen Legion, then the battle system will. During the tutorial with either Cecille or Legatus an are accompanied by what are called ‘Exemplars’. They are your main fighters while Cecille or Legatus play as supports of a sort. You begin the tutorial with two Exemplars, later unlocking a third. As you progress through the game you unlock more Exemplars to bring into battle. Beware, though, as you can only bring a max of three. Each Exemplar employs their own special attacks and abilities so when entering a level, choose wisely. Some are better suited for certain levels than others.
The attack buttons are ‘D’ and ‘F’ – and later ‘S’ once you unlock the third Exemplar. Each Exemplar has what is basically an ATB gauge that can fill up to three actions with each attack taking up an action. At the bottom of your screen there is a combo bar indicating how many actions you can put in the queue. If you fill the queue just right, then an Exemplar may execute a special attack called a Death Blow. Whatever Exemplar has an attack in the spot in the queue that satisfies the requirements (i.e. on the sixth attack, Exemplar in the sixth position on the combo bar) they execute their Death Blow.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it is, mostly. The one downside to the battle system is it is easy to go into the game mashing buttons like a five-year-old playing Street Fighter. I’ll admit, I spent the first couple hours doing just that. The tutorial mentioned something about blocking but I had dutifully ignored that solid piece of advice. I mean, who want’s to block? Jumping in with swords swinging was all I cared about. That is, until I noticed a solid kick slamming right into my ass. I then took a moment to step back and re-evaluate my battle strategy. Instead of button-mashing, I watched and waited. I planned my attacks more carefully, usually letting my back line fire bullets or launch arrows while my front line filled his ATB gauge, mainly staying open to block incoming arrows or sword swings. If timed right, an accurate block can shoot back an arrow to damage an enemy, or soak up a ton of damage. It won’t absorb all the damage unless you have a buff or skill attached, but it works wonders. This really slows the battle down a bit and opens the game to a whole different level of enjoyment.
Speaking of buffs and skills, another great addition to the battle system are, well, buffs which you get to select in the form of ‘choices’ during the level (more on this in a bit) and gemstones which you unlock after completing a level. Buffs are only temporary and last only the duration of the level while gemstones are permanent.
Buffs are pretty self explanatory, E.g. increased attack, block, magic etc. The way they are employed here is the buff is attached to the combo bar. Once an Exemplar’s attack lands on the combo that has the buff attached to it, the Exemplar will receive the buff, so make sure you have the Exemplar you want to receive the buff have their attack in the queue where the buff is located.
Battles aren’t the only thing to keep your attention. What do you mean, you ask? Well, remember waaaaaaay back in this review when I mentioned ‘choices’? Well, these choices play a big part in the overall game called a Governing System.
Choices are made in between battles. You won’t always have a choice to make, but when you do, a text bar appears and says something like: The people of Fenumia are angry about taxes and are forming a protest outside the palace walls.
Then three ‘cards’ will appear and you have to choose one card each with its own solution to the issue presented. Each card comes with a buff that you can use in battle. Be very careful with your choice as they permanently change the world of Fenumia. Sometimes bad choices are made and the people become angry with you. So not only are you graded on your overall battle prowess, but you are under the ever watchful eyes of the people of Fenumia. Watch your political ratings drop while you go for that ‘S’ score in every level!
What Else Does Fallen Legion Have to Offer?
My first hour or so of Fallen Legion didn’t leave me super impressed, to be entirely honest. After getting a better grip on the battle system it became infinitely more enjoyable, but the enjoyment ended there. Aside from great artwork and equally great music and a surprisingly deeper battle system than expected, I was left feeling like Fallen Legion had little else to offer. What else could I want, you ask? Well, one main problem for me is the world map. Fallen Legion really plays like a mobile game meets a game board. The world map displays locations you unlock as you beat levels, allowing you to visit new locations as you progress. Each time you beat a level, you are graded on how well you played. You have the option to revisit levels and attempt a better score, though aside from replay value I can’t say if there is any other reason for this.
The mobile game feel also seeps into the battles, as stated in the first paragraph. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I have to say it felt a little odd for a console and PC release. Maybe I just haven’t played a lot of games like this on outside of my phone; maybe my exposure level to this type of gaming is low. If so, and this kind of thing doesn’t bother you, then great. My personal biggest gripe with Fallen Legion is now of no consequence to you. All I can say is I typically prefer a game with some sort of free-roam capabilities. Does Fallen Legion’s lack of free-roam damage it as a game? Does it mean it should get a lower score? Absolutely not. It’s my fault for not doing more research on it before playing it. Because of this, I will not hold it against Fallen Legion or it’s developers. They made exactly what they wanted to make and they did a damn good job at it.
One last major portion of the game would be the story. I personally hate reviews that will spend two or three paragraphs talking about how the game opens up, what issues cause the main characters to go on their adventures and whatever else spurs the story on. So I won’t do that here except to say you have a conflict with some people involved. There are some witty characters, some wise-cracking know-it-alls and some reserved voice-of-reason characters. Oh, and the heroes and villains. Sound like every story ever right? That’s because at its core, it is just like any story ever. I had made notes on several aspects of the dialogue I wanted to bring up in this review but I decided against it. I will say this, though: the story isn’t the most unique, but it is enjoyable. There are some lighter comedic moments and some darker moments. The voice acting is done well enough to not be overly cheesy and the dialogue is mostly good.
In the end, I was mildly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this game. Sure, it can benefit from a few updates but what game can’t these days?
I can’t find anything actually bad about this game. I wish there was a free roam aspect; even something like Valkyrie Profile. I feel the battle waves make this game feel dangerously close to a mobile RPG and most of those are free. There is a small issue with text breaking in the dialogue boxes, but it’s rare and I can ignore that. What ultimately saves this game is its intuitive battle system that gets better when you aren’t mashing buttons like potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. If you step back and take a moment to strategically attack and block, the game gets much better and well worth playing. Throw in the artwork and music and this game becomes something worth killing some time with. Maybe wait for a sale, though.
Review Code provided by the publisher. Review based on PC version. Also available on PS4, PS Vita.