Last year at Anime Expo I was wandering the entertainment hall near the end of the convention when I came across a small booth for a game called Fallen Legion. Spencer Yip, Director of YummyYummyTummy games, excitedly showcasing its unique battle system and hosting a challenge to see who could get the highest combo-count. Giving it a go myself, I was immediately taken in by the combat system, and promptly exchanged information with Spencer to stay up to date on Fallen Legion’s development and release.
In the 5 days since I got the review code, courtesy of YummyYummyTummy games, I’ve sunk more hours than I’d care to admit into their newest title, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on the game with all of you!
Fallen Legion centers around a young princess-turned-Emperor named Cecille. After her father’s death, Cecille is placed in charge of a large, but crumbling kingdom. Economic challenges plague the capital, and the smaller territories are being plucked up by influential Princes, wielding just enough power to secure their own piece of the pie. If that wasn’t enough, an esteemed General of her vast armies, Legatus Leandur, attempts to assassinate her and seize the throne for himself. Luckily for you, Cecille is not a helpless damsel in distress: an experienced general and assertive leader, she does not shy away from the difficult decisions that need to be made to help save her kingdom.
Yet, despite her strengths, she can’t do it alone. After her father’s death, he entrusted her with a mysterious, talking Grimoire. This artifact previously offered her father advice, and allows Cecille to use Soulmancy; an ancient art that allows the reanimation of past souls. With a small retinue of legendary fighters and the smart-talking Grimoire at her side, Cecille embarks on a campaign to save her kingdom.
From the start, Fallen Legion makes some great decisions when it comes to the story. Rather than utilizing the “small kingdom striking back against an oppressive empire” trope, you instead are the oppressive empire, and faced with the real challenges of a kingdom that has gotten too big too fast. Furthermore, your decisions as the interim emperor have real-world implications that Fallen Legion executes exceedingly well (we’ll cover that in more detail in a bit).
Cecille is an interesting character, and I appreciate her strength and tenacity, but it takes a little while for her character to develop nuance. The Grimoire also suffers from this one-note syndrome, and their increasingly tense relationship becomes a bit too predictable for a good chunk of the story.
Despite some minor gripes on character development, however, Fallen Legion offers up a well-designed story in a vast and rich world.
Where the game really shines, however, is when it gets down to brass tacks. Let’s talk about the combat system!
First, there’s your warriors. Each of these heroes is a reincarnation of a famed hero of old, brought under Cecille’s command by the power of the Grimoire. Certain warriors focus on tanking and health, others would be considered DPS, or damage-dealing, classes. Cecille is always in the party, so you have three open slots with which to tinker with and build the best party for a given encounter.
In addition to managing your party build, you also have access to “Gemstones” – various trinkets that allow you to give your warriors certain enhancements.
Each of your warriors is assigned to a respective button on the controller: X, O and Square, with Cecille persistently being linked with triangle. Each hero can charge up to 3 AP, or Attack Points, though you don’t have to wait for a full charge before sending them into combat. As you issue commands, as long as you haven’t taken damage, you will eventually execute a special move called a “Deathblow”. In the example above, this Deathblow would be used once the 6th attack was put in, and whichever character was selected would fire off a more-powerful attack. Monitoring where your various characters are means that there’s hardly a dull moment in combat as one after another your ready warriors charge in and pummel your enemies.
However, your foes aren’t going to take it lying down. They each have their own attacks, of course, and if they connect with one of your warriors it breaks your combo chain and can also interrupt their attacks. To stop them from doing this, you will need to master a technique as old as video games itself: blocking! By pressing and holding R1 you can block incoming attacks and reduce damage, but the real challenge is in executing a “perfect block”. If you time it right when the attack hits, not only is the attack reflected/nullified, you also are granted a bonus attack point to turn the tables on your enemy. Make no mistake: blocking is not a tertiary command in Fallen Legion. You must know how to defend, and defend well, if you plan on conquering the game. A particular bandit queen fight later in the game makes this point painfully clear.
In addition to the standard rounds of combat, there is another, arguably more interesting mechanic that is laced between conflicts, and that is the decision system.
As you race from battle to battle, you will receive an update on your kingdom, and be given an opportunity to make a decision on how to proceed. The decisions you will face will vary wildly: from what to do with captured enemies, to acting on rumors that an allied prince is planning on cutting ties with you, to how you react to a recent peasant uprising. Each of these decisions will grant particular characters a boon, often by hamstringing them in another area. For example, you might get improved strength, and lose speed.
These decisions are not limited to the battlefield…far from it in fact. They have an active impact on the country’s “Morale”, which impacts how much your characters are healed when you make decisions during combat. Furthermore, they help to shape the larger story and what kind of leader you are interpreted to be. Lean too heavily on propaganda and you’ll find yourself battling forces that will seek to expose the truth. Choose to stay disengaged for too long and the kingdom’s morale will plummet as they view you as an idle monarch. Bring down the hammer too frequently and you’ll face more and more rebellions by the day. You also need to remember key players – who do you favor, and do you do it consistently? If you praise a political foe one day and then send in a task force to assassinate him the next, future alliances would be shaky at best. This mechanic, combined with the thrilling combat, makes the gameplay in Fallen Legion stand out.
Fallen Legion utilizes hand-drawn character models and environments to create a stunning and beautiful world. As you run from battle to battle, you’ll notice the detail on the various enemies you’ll face; from scaled lizard-men to goblins, barbarians and beyond. The various spells and deathblows throughout the game are also excellently designed; from Mjolnir’s massive hammer being flung across the battlefield to Zulfiqar’s devastating ice-wave.
Overall, Fallen Legion is an absolute blast to play. The real-time battle system is a frenzied exercise in well-timed blocks and keenly executed deathblows. The story-based decisions you make as interim emperor add an additional layer of depth to combat, as well as providing a unique storytelling experience. The well-designed characters and lush backgrounds all lend themselves to establishing a vibrant and engaging world that you will find yourself returning to again and again.
YummyYummyTummy and Spencer Yip have created a tremendous RPG experience with Fallen Legion, and for $20 on the Playstation Store, you really can’t go wrong. Check it out when it arrives tomorrow! Archmage will also be providing a review of the Vita version of the game, Flames of Rebellion, which puts you in control of the enemy general Legatus Laendur. Look forward to it!