Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire - PS4 Review

There are a lot of issues that people can be divided on: music, politics, flavors of jellybeans, and of course also ruling a country. Fallen Legion takes this principle a little further by dividing what could be considered a “split storyline” game between a Vita and PS4 version, each with a different main character and storyline, but identical play styles. While there are many things to be divided on, one thing is for certain: Fallen Legion brings a fresh yet nostalgic breath into the gaming scene.

Admittedly I haven’t played the Vita version, mostly because my review code was PS4 only. That doesn’t however, make me any less appreciative of the game/s.  The PS4 version follows Princess Cecille as she attempts to fix her country as it is collapsing from its own government and size. Princess Cecille will travel across the kingdom of Fenumia in order to feed a sassy grimoire souls in order to give it enough power to fix the country, all while trying to deal with a coup by the main character of the Vita version.

Normally I would first start commenting on the playstyle, but I feel as if I need to mention something first: the odd sense of nostalgia I felt while playing. At first I couldn’t place it, the art style is similar to Vanillaware (Dragon’s Crown and Odin Sphere), but feels a lot more tame comparatively. That was a portion of the nostalgic feeling, but not the whole thing. It wasn’t until a friend of mine was mentioning their favorite PS1 classics that it hit me: the combat system is incredibly similar to Valkyrie Profile. For those that have played any of the games I’ve just mentioned, Fallen Legion, while drawing a lot of inspiration from these titles, feels like neither a cheap knockoff or a rip off. Both the art and combat style have their own aspects that draw them in a unique and refreshing light.

Gameplay consists of a “point-to-point” world map, where “nodes” represent either story or battles, sometimes both. Combat takes place on a per-battle basis, so each “scenario” consists of a series of battles and choices. In combat, you have up to three characters assigned to the ‘X’, ‘Square’, and ‘Circle’ buttons of the controller, and the princess is controlled via the ‘Triangle’ button. Each character, called Exemplars, has three “actions” that can be used, and they “regenerate” over time. Each attack from one of the Exemplars fills in a “chain gauge” at the bottom of the screen. Getting hit will reset the gauge, but if you manage to fill out the gauge, not only do you get a slight damage boost based on chain count, but the final character does a special “deathblow” technique, which varies dependent on Exemplar, and can have many different effects, such as decreasing enemy defense for a limited time.

The princess fights using magic, which charges when your Exemplars smack things. The princess has three starter magic available: a resurrection spell, a group heal, and a damage spell. Each spell has its own charge time and counter, and you can equip up to three at once, meaning you could have all three spells prepared and waiting to be used. Spells can be used by: neutral ‘Triangle’, holding up on the control stick or d-pad and ‘Triangle’, or holding down on the control stick or d-pad and ‘Triangle’. The princess doesn’t affect the chain gauge, but will increase the chain count. You also have a guard function, which you’ll definitely need. Not only does guarding reduce the damage you take, but perfect guards will restore an action point, and leave the enemy vulnerable.

Since you don’t earn exp or levels, you’ll need to get good at using the perfect guard, which can be slightly infuriating at times. Not only is there a delay between pressing the guard button and your actual guard, but the timing to guard can be incredibly difficult to determine. This is only compounded by the fact that not only are the enemies apparently masters of body-blocking, but the amount of on-screen “details” make it excruciatingly difficult to see through enemy tells. An option to hide certain effects during battle would’ve been really appreciated. That being said, I didn’t find the game particularly difficult once I got the hang of the perfect guard, so I suppose the “artificial difficulty” is where the bulk of the challenge comes from.

Throughout the stages that you traverse you will be given choices that affect not only your country, but your Exemplars as well. As the ruler, you will have to decide people’s fates, new laws, as well as trade deals and managing public order. This is all done through a series of timed choices. A scenario will pop up, you will be given a brief description, and you must then choose one of three options to enact. These options will have an impact on country morale, but will also give buffs or demerits to your units. For instance, there was one choice I had where a local lord was planning an attack on another lord. I could arrest them, ignore the whole deal, or infiltrate their group. Arresting them seemed like the correct choice, but it lowered one of my Exemplar’s max health. Since these effects only last for the current mission, it doesn’t seem like a bad trade-off to have the country trust me more, but the problem I ran into was that EVERY choice in that mission did the same thing. By the end, my one Exemplar who was a front line fighter had half an inch max health, although they were really dishing out the pain. The choices can be fairly vague sometimes too, like with a protest against the lord raising taxes an exorbitant amount. One option was “infiltrate”, but it never stated whether I was infiltrating the lord’s mansion or the protestor’s rally.

Overall, I have to say I was really pleased by Fallen Legion. The loading screens were actually too fast, as there is lore on them that I would only get half-way through before it was done. The characters are also all interesting and have realistic beliefs, interactions, and feelings, and the talking grimoire has some of the best sassy comments and I love him/her/it for that. A really nice touch was the realism they added to the world. The country is failing not because of some random magic plague, but because it has outgrown the limits of what it can reasonably sustain. Additionally, a lot of the spells, while fantasy, have a science component, as one spell was actually talking about the method for splitting atoms. And the music. How could I not mention the music? Fallen Legion has a soundtrack that I would definitely buy first chance I have. Despite listening to the same few tracks for a few hours, I neither got tired of them nor was craving for something else. While I don’t know who their composer is, props to that guy, or girl, they did a beautiful job.

While Fallen Legion may not appeal to everyone, especially those who can’t get timing down to save their lives (which it will in this game), there’s a great nostalgia kick for older gamers, while introducing some novel systems, or at least novel takes on systems, that are sure to drawn in the younger crowd. Fallen Legion is a wonderful gritty look at a fantasy kingdom that will leave you spellbound.

Game Information

PlayStation 4
Action RPG
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Richard


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