Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire and Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion set out to tell two sides of the same story, although they don’t quite reach their ambitious goals.
Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire and Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion
Price: $19.99 each or $29.99 bundled
Platforms: PS4 (Sins of an Empire), PS Vita (Flames of Rebellion)
MonsterVine was provided with PS4 and PS Vita codes for review.
Fallen Legion is not a single game, but rather two. Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire on the PS4 follows Cecille, a princess whose surprise ascension to the throne is marred by her discovery that the Empire’s well-being depends on her cooperating with a soul-eating Grimoire. Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion on the PS Vita follows Legatus Laendur, who rebels against Cecille when he learns of the book and tries to take the throne for himself.
It’s an interesting idea to present the antagonist of one game as the protagonist of another, particularly as the games attempt to paint a morally gray world. Aside from that, however, the two games are functionally the same. Their main characters, stories, and levels are different, but their gameplay is identical.
Fallen Legion’s combat system features the protagonist and three Exemplars, weapons manifested as warriors. Attacking as each Exemplar is mapped to one of the face buttons, while the fourth is reserved for the protagonist. The protagonist, Cecille or Laendur, has poor defense and exclusively uses magic. As you attack with the Exemplars, you recharge your spells.
This system might make it tempting to button-mash your way through battles, but that would be a mistake. You need to take your time, because blocking is a critical part of combat. Blocking diminishes the damage you take, and if you block immediately before the enemy attack hits, you perform a perfect block. This reflects the attack back at your enemies and is often necessary for victory.
Combat is the primary gameplay of Fallen Legion, as your characters automatically run from encounter to encounter once you select a stage. In between battles, however, you’ll be presented with choices. For each decision, you have three cards to pick from, each with a response to the situation and a reward. These choices influence morale, which determines how much you can heal in between battles, and how your Exemplars reach a higher form. They also affect choices you’ll see later on, as well as some levels and story events, although the main plot remains unchanged.
Choice-driven gameplay is fantastic, but unfortunately it falls a little short in Fallen Legion. You’ll sometimes be called to deal with characters you know nothing about, particularly at the start of Cecille’s campaign. Which noble should you help? It’s difficult to say if you haven’t seen either of them. The presentation of the choices as one-word options can also be tricky—for example, if a village is under attack by a prince, does the “Defend” choice mean defending the village or the prince? Another time, I was given a gift and found myself puzzling over the difference between the “Take” and “Accept” options.
Despite these setbacks, the choices do flesh out the empire and add more life to the world, and seeing how these smaller stories work out is a nice diversion from the main plot. The main plot, as I mentioned above, aims to show a morally gray situation, but it can be difficult to sympathize with Cecille and Laendur’s decisions—particularly Cecille at the start of the story. There are a few twists, but the main plot never reaches its full potential.
However, the combat is the primary focus, and that is solid. Flames of Rebellion’s frame rate struggles a little during busy battles, and it also has significantly longer load times than Sins of an Empire, but the two games both have the same strong battle system. There are aspects that could be explained better, such as tributes. Tributes are buffs that affect certain things in battles, but the game was never entirely clear if receiving tributes as a reward for moral choices is the only way to activate them, or if there is another method. Overall the combat of Fallen Legion shines above the rest.
The Final Word
Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire and Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion try to tell a grand story, but their flaws hold them back despite an entertaining and unusual battle system.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 2.5 out of 5 – Mediocre