By Henry Badilla / August 18th, 2017
|Title||Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire|
|Release Date||July 18|
|Platform||PS4, PS Vita|
When I started playing RPGs I always felt that the turn-based element was an easy way to depict combat involving several characters, and still being able to focus on the story and exploration. With time this became the norm and while different mechanics were built around it, the basics of selecting an action from a menu remained the core element for many games. Fallen Legion, on the other hand, doesn’t care about turns, it just gives you straight RPG combat goodness to your face. Are you up for the ride?
This review is based on the PS4 version, Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire. The Vita version of this game has a different plot and different protagonist than this one. There are some different enemies and bosses but besides the story it’s the same game.
The story takes place in the Kingdom of Fenumia, which is formed by different countries that were conquered by previous emperors. Princess Cecille, our protagonist, explains to us that the kingdom is in conflict since the people are not happy with their rulers. Everything is set in motion the moment that Cecille’s father passes away; as the heir to the throne, she must make haste to the kingdom to establish order before Legatus, a previous General of the kingdom, takes control of the country. All this while we discover the dark secrets of the empire which are linked to a talking book known as the Grimoire.
Fallen Legion takes a couple of hints from Valkyrie Profile in regards to its combat mechanics. Each of the face buttons control one of our four characters. Triangle always corresponds to Cecille, who is in charge of casting spells, and Square, Triangle and Circle will correspond to our offensive characters. By pressing any of the buttons the corresponding character will attack by spending one AP (action point) which can be charged up to 3. If the character is inactive it will slowly recover these points.
Unlike Valkyrie Profile, in which we first attack with all our characters and then the enemies do the same, on this game everything is done in real time. Enemies can and will attack you while you are attacking them. To defend against their attacks we need to press the L1 buttons to go into a defensive stance. If pressed at the right time damage will be prevented and the combo meter will continue. This is important since we need to hit 4 or more attacks in succession to be able to launch special attacks.
And while combat is fun and enjoyable, the rest of the game is quite simplistic for an RPG. There are no dungeons, the stages are long corridors filled with monsters, in which our characters run automatically from left to right until they encounter an enemy or reach the end of the stage. There is no equipment for any of the characters, instead you can equip up to 3 Jewels which you can get at the end of a stage. These will grant bonuses to our characters but nothing else. There are no levels either, our characters get stronger but is not something that we can check, as there is no status screen.
There are a couple of towns but we basically just talk with the NPCs that inhabit them. There is no exploration whatsoever and no shops to get new items, we are at the mercy of the RNG Gods. Since the whole game consists of fighting different groups of enemies with different backgrounds, it can get a little repetitive from time to time. The game is not very long, it took me around 15 hours to complete it I believe, but there is no way to track the completion time within the game.
Thankfully, the combat is quite engaging and trying to master the perfect guard takes quite some time and makes combat very active. The overall difficulty is not too high, there are just two bosses at half the game that will require you to understand how blocking works. In a way, it’s a rite of passage of the game.
The story is quite simple, and there are not many surprises, but the interactions between Cecille and the Grimoire are quite nice and funny. The Grimoire tends to make witty remarks and always tries to make Cecille uneasy, which leads to great interactions between both characters.
Unfortunately, the lore of the game is not that great. One of the menu options offers more insight on the mythos of the world and the kingdom, but not much is actually informed, and it doesn’t really add much to the game. This is a problem because on each stage between combat we get asked for advice in regards to the problems of the kingdom, which usually leads to either support or oppose members of the king’s council, but there is no way to look up who we are supporting or why, so it’s hard to make a choice. These decisions also impact the availability of additional missions on the game, and since there is only one save slot, if we want to try to see what impact our choices have we will have to basically start the game anew.
In the end you can complete the game while ignoring these details, but by reading on forums I noticed that I missed a lot of different things by not knowing which options to select. For example, we’re supposed to get a Jewel near the end of the game which changes the spell of Cecille to a better one. I never encountered this, or any spells, so all my playthrough was done with her initial attack.
From the screenshots above you may have noticed the game uses a very colorful art style for the graphics, using 2D illustrations instead of the typical sprites or 3D models most commonly used and very detailed backgrounds and enemies. While the art style is similar to Vanillaware’s titles, the character’s illustrations and design are different enough so it shouldn’t cause any confusion. The music is quite varied. From rock tunes that focus on the electric guitars and drums, to more traditional songs using piano and violins and anything in between. The soundtrack is quite nice, and in line to what you can expect from an RPG nowadays. I can imagine myself listening to it while commuting to work along with the rest of my music library.
At the end of the day I would recommend Fallen Legion to any fans of games like Valkyrie Profile or Exist Archive, there are not many games that have combat that feels action based while still being considered an RPG, and combat actually works really well. For me the lack of exploration, dungeons or items in general leave me with a bad taste since one of my favorite aspects of RPGs is being able to immerse myself in a world, but I understand some people may prefer the more straightforward combat-focus of this game. While not perfect, for $20 you will get a very fun and unique game that RPG fans should definitely check out.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Fallen LegionPS4PSVitaRPGsins of an empireValkyrie ProfileYummyYummyTummy