The only thing “Fallen” with this game, was my interest.
- Developer: Yummy Yummy Tummy
- Publisher: NIS America-Koei Tecmo
- Release date: 16th February 2021
- Genre: 2D Side Scrolling RPG
- Platforms: PS4/NS
- Reviewed on: PS5 via Backward Compatability
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
It’s not often at Total Gaming Addicts that we recommend that you read the details hidden behind the “About” button above, but on this occasion it’s required reading. From the moment you fire up Fallen Legion: Revenants, you are literally thrown into the mix, with no exposition or explanation of who you are playing as and why. Not even a simple narrated overview, nothing. Bam… You start as a team of four, and are thrust right into battle, and when that is done, thrown into playing as another character who on the surface is just some random person.
I spent most of my time thinking, “Who is this, and what am i supposed to do? What relevance has this to do with anything, but most importantly, what the heck is going on?” I can not think of any other similar type of game that doesn’t have at least a menu option for you to learn the name of the character you are playing and a brief line or two of their history. Heck, while we are at it, this game doesn’t even have a menu of any nature at all. It’s only by stumbling into a character in the middle of one section of the game that you find out you can save your game! If you think it’s weird this review is simply getting right into it, then this mirrors how the game throws the player right into it too!
The only place from which you can learn the lore of the land (which is actually really interesting), and the only place that has any sort of structure to give you an understanding of who is who and what you are supposed to do, is the web site of the game. It is SO bad that after playing the game for a while, then forgetting the move list for combat, the only place I could refresh my mind on how combat worked was through a promotional email from the publishers when they sent the game to us to review!
When you start to get to grips.
When players get to understand the gameplay loop of the game, the jigsaw starts to become clearer. There are two main aspects of the game, those being controlling a party of 3 via a ghoul called Rowena, and controlling a politician named Lucien. The game jolts between the two situations with no overview of why. It eventually turns out that Rowena and Lucien have decided to help each other, as Lucien wants to overthrow the government, whereas Rowena, who is now in spirit form, wants to have her son raised, with the linking factor between the two being the Exemplars.
The game starts with combat, and then halfway through cuts to a scene in the castle, where Lucien has to solve clues or a puzzle or use his political charm to make deals to get information. He can then give that information to Rowena to change her course of action. For example, Lucien needs to find out which route a certain enemy went, which he does via bribery or flattery in the castle. He then advises Rowena and she goes in that direction. How he manages to talk to a ghoul in another part of the world is, again, not explained.
This gameplay loop is actually a really interesting idea, as the game has branching routes to it’s ending. The ending the player gets and how they got there will be different from others, which also gives potential for huge replay value for those who do manage to become invested in the story.
The combat is one of a kind!
The combat system is extremely unique. It works perfectly well and is probably the best aspect of the game.
The maximum number of available combatants in battles is four, with one of them always being Rowena herself. As the game progresses, more Exemplars are added to the team with different skill sets,
Combat utilises a grid-based system, and each character is assigned a button. To attack the enemies directly in front, the player simply hits that button. However, each button icon has a health bar around the left side of it, and the right side displays the number of hits available before a cooldown period is needed. Players can queue up attacks for all the characters, and then the first character you used will have cooled down to be able to attack again, or pressing two buttons at the same time allows two characters to attack simultaneously.
This mechanic is very simple and responsive, but the characters also need to block incoming attacks frequently, as simply button mashing will result in their deaths. Timing the blocks to make perfect parries also gives the team magic points, which can be stacked up to unleash a powerful strike or use them with Rowena to heal the team or unleash a strike of her own.
It is a simple system but it is also a rewarding and fun one, that has a layer of tactical awareness plastered over the top. Some of my best moments playing the game were during tough battles. I would manage to get a high combo, but at the cost of exposing the team and lowering their health. With a series of parries, I managed to recuperate them, before going full Conan the Barbarian on the enemy for the win.
The second aspect of the game comes into play midway through a level. For unexplained reasons, the screen then splits into two with Rowena asking Lucien a question. He then sets out to find out a pertinent piece of information to relay back to Rowena.
This requires Lucien to simply walk around and find a character to talk to and choose an option in his reply, e.g. being forceful, charming or offering a bribe, with these choices affecting the story further on down the line. The game needlessly puts timers on this section of the game that doesn’t add any impetus, but simply rushes the player into making the first choice they find when there could be many.
Lucien relays the information he has found back to Rowena, which she then uses to carry on the fight. When the level has been completed you are back at the castle with Lucien and can explore a few areas to interact with characters located there.
The sections featuring Lucien aren’t very exciting to play, as it’s always just a case of walking around to find someone to interact with or occasionally listening to conversations or pick-pocketing someone.
On the plus side
One of the other aspects the game does have going for it is that the artwork and animations are very smooth. The backdrops, although simplistic, wouldn’t be amiss in a manga book, and the characters themselves are pleasant to the eye, with interesting features and great character designs.
The musical score and in-game battle effects are also of great quality, but at times sound a little out of place. A guitar heavily thrashing out rock doesn’t really suit a victorian aesthetic, but was pleasant to listen to all the same. The voice acting is also of great quality, with the exception of Lucien. He plays the part of a politician too well, in that he sounds a little bit too slimy and fake for a character you will spend over half the game with.
The main and biggest issue
The biggest issue is one self-inflicted by the developers. The core idea of the game is actually a really good one. The mix of an interesting and unique combat mechanic alongside the branching storyline is not something I’ve seen before in this style. The issue throughout all of this though is context, and more specifically, lack thereof.
The game gives no context for why you should be doing anything! How can you care about what’s going on when the game doesn’t even tell you who the people are? Political chatter can be boring at the best of times, but overlay that with no exposition of what your goal is, or what direction you should think about when talking to the people you interact with, and everything the developers wanted to use to build up any tension is lost. Not knowing why you’re fighting and how the two situations are linked between Rowena and Lucien ultimately leads the player to think they are playing as two random characters.
I spent more time wondering what I should be doing, who is this and why should I care about them, than I did enjoying the game. The game then adds to this misery by not even having a menu system to allow the player to recap what’s happened, how to play or even save the game. In what is the ultimate loss of discretion, I couldn’t even find a “return to main menu” option to shut the game down, so I had to turn the game off whilst being in the middle of it! The structure of the game, much like how the story is presented, is an incoherent mess.
I really wanted to enjoy this game. Two of my all-time favourite games are 2D side-scrolling action RPGs Muramasa Rebirth and Odin Sphere Leifthanser, and I was hoping Fallen Legion: Revenants would be the third. Sadly, it is not. It’s very frustrating, because there is a great game buried here, it’s just lost beneath a blanket of poor design choices. It’s almost as though YYT Games didn’t believe in their own product when they most certainly should have stood tall and shouted about it.