One Game, 2 versions. It’s not an entirely new concept and there are many previous examples of games releasing with 2 differing versions to choose from. The one that immediately jumps to mind – and I really didn’t believe that I would be drawing any parallels with – is the Pokemon series, specifically the original Red and Blue releases. Fallen Legion revives this concept, and has released as Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire on the PlayStation 4 and Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion on the PlayStation Vita. Both games are set in the same timeline, allowing you to play from the perspective of the protagonist or antagonist, although which is which is open to interpretation. Here – and owing to the fact I don’t own a Vita – Ill be looking at Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire, where you play the role of Cecille, the princess of the kingdom of Fenumia, who is currently busy trying to quash a rebellion being lead by Legatus Laendur, the protagonist of the sister game.
From this perspective, the story kicks off with news of your Fathers death and subsequently your promotion to Empress. It’s at this point that you are introduced to Grimoire, a talking book, who also just happens to be the source of all your power. His patronising guidance come arrogance aside, his unique ability to bridge the world of the living and dead allows you to manifest the heroes of the past and present to yield in combat against all manor of monsters and foes. From here, you’ll now be introduced to the real meat of the game, it’s combat. The game is actually a fast paced real-time action game, and gameplay is focused around regular short, but frantic battles.
Your combat strength comes from the heroes that you summon back to world of the living. These resurrected combatants, or Exemplars as they are known in the game, are best described as your primary, secondary and tertiary attacks. Each Exemplar, for which you have room for up to 3 in your party, has a single attack alongside a single special attack. When selecting your party, you essentially map each character to one of 3 controller buttons, and as such to attack with a specific character all you need to do is hit the relevant button. When you successfully land a hit, your combo bar will fill where filling the bar to a specific point means your next attack will be a special attack. Each exemplar has a special attack, and as you progress through the game each character will unlock new special attacks that you can select prior to starting a stage. The mechanics are simple, however the joy comes from it’s mastery of combat which will require your full attention. Blocking attacks requires you to raise your shield just before an attack lands. Time it perfectly, and you can deflect projectiles or momentarily stun an opponent allowing you to unleash a flurry of attacks causing the maximum possible damage. Misjudge however, and you’ll be on the receiving end of a pretty nasty attack. Hence just chiming in and mashing the buttons will work early on, but as you progress through the game and the difficulty begins to ramp up you’ll need to apply more strategy if you wish to succeed.
Each stage plays out as a series of battles and interludes. During the interludes, you’ll be presented with a choice to make based on a situation and presented with 3 possible options. What will be initially clear is that the option you choose will provide you with a different combat benefit, for example a 20% damage boost for a specific character or attack type. What becomes clearer the more you play however is that choices also dictates the flow of certain sub plots, and as such there is a little more to choices than just which benefit you think will serve you best. It’s a nice touch, however as the choices have no overall bearing on the main narrative it’s all too easy to solely base your choice on the stat boost.
There are certainly aspects of the game that could be improved. At the start of each stage you need to select you party, and it’s a little too easy to assign Exemplars to the wrong keys which can really throw you off in combat particularly if you’ve got used to a specific setup. A separate party management system in the games main menu would be much better, particularly considering that gems and other items have to be equipped and managed this way anyhow. Another gripe was during combat enemies quite often bunch up and overlap, which can make it very difficult to pick out the all important visual cues to execute the perfect counter. In some of the tougher battles, details like these can be the difference between victory and defeat.
Overall, the main appeal of this game is mastering the combat mechanics. Once things gel you’ll find great satisfaction in playing out an almost perfect battle, where enemies are dispatched promptly without feeling like they ever posed a threat. It’s rewarding, and I felt the game was also just about the correct length allowing you to experience and understand it’s mechanics before you tire of them completely. The narrative isn’t particularly captivating, and certain elements of the game could certainly benefit from some more spit and polish. But overall it’s a well rounded experience that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire was provided to us by PR Outreach via a digital code for PS4.