Fight to Save Fenumia
The long awaited Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire will soon be arriving to the PlayStation 4. While not officially out until the 18th of this month, we here at HeyPoorPlayer have got you covered! Lots of people are excited about this game, and I am loath to retain the details of this title any longer. While another game, also by YummyYummyTummy and Mintsphere, will be released alongside Fallen Legion for the Vita entitled Flames of Rebellion, this review will specifically tackle Sins of an Empire alone.
Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire is a culmination of Valkyrie Profile-style mechanics with a chaotic button mashing combat style. Combined with some plot devices similar to that of the anime Fate/Stay Night, Fallen Legion promises to be an eclectic mix of themes that are likely to appease a multitude of gamers.
A Brief History of The Empire
Fenumia is a country forged in the heat of war and tempered in bloodshed. No one is more familiar with this than Princess Cecille, a battle-hardened general and heir to the throne. Unfortunately, her call to rule comes faster than she would like as Maurice, a man entrusted to her father’s side, arrives on the battlefield to inform Cecile that her father is dead. Fenumia is now hers to rule, but there’s a catch. Maurice has brought with him a sassy, sardonic Grimoire. That’s right, it can talk. This Grimoire informs her that it alone was the key to her father’s success, and as such it (he?) plans fully on extending his assistance to Cecille so that she may maintain her throne. Unfortunately, this offer is not optional.
To make matters worse, not everyone in Cecille’s circle can be trusted. As she makes for the capital to bury her father, her military commander Legatus Laendur has set to overthrow her and take the throne for himself. Now Cecille is in a race to keep her crown and country all while outing those that have betrayed her.
Thankfully, Grimoire makes this possible by teaching Cecille how to summon Exemplars. These are the avatars of weapons wielded by heroes long dead, and the means by which the player will fight. When summoned, they will do the bidding of their master while in battle. The further Cecille goes in her quest, the more of these companions she will unlock. Players can mix and match according to their preferred play style to assure victory on their way to the throne.
A Crumbling Empire
War and treason are not the only factors Cecile has to deal with, however. With Fenumia near ruin, the economy is beginning to fluctuate. Denizens and cities once loyal to the empire are starting to grow bold, daring to break off and become independent nations of their own. Cecille must contend with these issues as she progresses, in the forms of morale choices offered throughout the duration of each level.
Be careful what you choose though. While each option has its own benefits, retaliation will be common if what is picked doesn’t settle well with the citizens. Unfortunately, favor among the peasantry isn’t the only thing Cecille and the player will need to consider as they make their way through Fenumia. Each choice also offers buffs to various mechanics. It is up to you to decide which of these decisions is best, and what will ultimately take priority: your fight, or the citizenry of Fenumia.
All of these things may sound terrible, but they are not necessarily. Allies can be forged even amongst defecting townships and their rulers. Tips and information will be dropped for you as the story progresses, so be sure to pay attention during cutscenes and dialogue between NPCs and Cecille.
The Care And Feeding of Exemplars
As stated before, Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire operates in a similar fashion to Valkyrie Profile. This means that each Exemplar the player employs on the battlefield is assigned a specific button that can be chosen at the outset of each level. This will also effect the standing order of Exemplars during battle, although that can be changed with the bumper buttons if needs be.
Cecille herself adds to the combat when necessary, but these three avatars will be the primary key to your success in battle. Players can choose to utilize all three at once, or attempt to use each individual Exemplar’s combos separately. The former will prove the most effective, although the latter can be useful if one is wanting to use a specific character’s ultimate at a specific time in combat.
Each exemplar has a total of three attacks they can execute before needing to utilize a cool down, so be sure to utilize attacks with foresight. A shield can be deployed to protect against incoming attacks, but it must be timed just right to ensure the party isn’t damaged. All enemies will telegraph an incoming attack, but if the player is mid-combat when these occur, or times the shield incorrectly, there’s nothing else to do but eat the damage head on. Thankfully Cecille can heal her Exemplars if enough combos are generated in battle.
Comboing moves regenerates Cecille’s magic on three fronts. One is resurrection, meaning that she can raise one downed Exemplar in combat to bring them back into the fray. Another is a single attack move that does excessive damage to all enemies. The final and most useful is to heal all of her Exemplars on the field. This will be the most handy of her abilities, but don’t fret. Using one spell does not waste mana for the others. Each builds separately, meaning that Cecille will almost always be able to keep her Exemplars up so as to ensure her own continued safety.
Should all Exemplars be downed, Cecille can activate a sort of panic mode that allows here to quickly regenerate her attack move. Unfortunately, this will only buy her time in the event that she can resurrect one Exemplar to defend her. Since she has no defense maneuvers of her own (odd, since she’s a soldier), one hit will take Cecille down, and the player will be stuck repeating the level all over again.
Successful fights will also grant Cecille gemstones. These are items that add buffs, attacks, and defensive abilities to specific Exemplars, as dictated in the options menu. Choose carefully, though, because you can only have three equipped at a time. It’s best to make sure that their abilities tie in with the Exemplars you are most likely to use more often so that these equipped items don’t go to waste during the game.
Sightseeing in Fenumia
While my overall experience with Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire was a fun one, I did have a few issues throughout my gameplay.
For starters, the story gets very overloaded, very quickly. For a good portion of the game I wasn’t entirely certain what was going on, much less why. At first, Cecille and company are heading to the capital. Once they find out about Legatus Laendur’s betrayal they’re on the run from him. Then Grimoire has some pages stolen out of him, so we have to go eat some souls? I’m already lost again revisiting all of this. Apparently Grimoire needs specific souls, but how does a book know where these souls are? Then we’re on the run again?
To add to this, players won’t have a lot of background on Fenumia when they get started. Information is divulged in cutscenes and in exposition dumps during load screens. This isn’t a big deal, but do you recall the aforementioned morale choices the game presents throughout levels? Well, it’s hard to know what exactly are the best decisions to make if you want to have a happy and wholesome kingdom come the end of the game. Context clues exist, but are not abundant, so at times the player is more or less blindsided by the aftereffects of their decision making.
Cutscenes also have a tendency to go back and forth in time, and a good many of them share backgrounds and have unfamiliar characters flitting in and out of them. Suffice it to say, I didn’t feel as though story was Fallen Legion’s strong point.
The Bells and Whistles
Gameplay was more satisfying, but even that had a few flaws that frustrated me. Fallen Legion doesn’t really do a very good job of teaching you how to play. While it’s not as though the game is complicated, there are various attacks from mobs and bosses that, even with the shield, I couldn’t figure out how to combat effectively. The two most difficult bosses have magical attacks that I never figured out how to counter, and because particle effects saturate almost every inch of the screen, it’s hard to figure out what is a block-able attack and what I just have to grit my teeth and run through. I suppose this boils down to balancing issues and visual design hiccups, but it gets frustrating when you have to repeat the same boss over and over again on what feels like nothing more than a technicality.
Cutscenes cannot be skipped, either, which when combined with the aforementioned issue can grate on the nerves whilst adding insult to injury after having to repeat the same boss or level five or six times over.
Yet for these issues, combat was still fast paced and fun. I generally love a good hack-and-slash that doesn’t cut too drastically into the action. Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire is simple enough to be fun, but not so simple that it doesn’t require you to think about what you’re doing in a fight. That I can vary my Exemplar posse between ranged and tanky-style gameplay is an added benefit, as over the duration of my time I preferred to brawl it out instead of having two tanks and a mid ranged shooter.
Rule With An Iron Fist
I’m not sure if Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire is for everyone. The story is a bit convoluted, and the characters aren’t terribly likeable. Truthfully, I never cared if Cecille got to rule Fenumia or if it fell to the treacherous Legatus. However, I did enjoy the gameplay. The art was striking even in its simplicity, and while the lore-building could have been streamlined a little better, the effort made by YummyYummyTummy and Mintsphere wasn’t an altogether poor one. I’d look forward to future titles from these developers while thoroughly enjoying Fallen Legion in my downtime.
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (reviewed); Publisher: YummyYummyTummy ; Developer: YummyYummyTummy, Mintsphere; Players: 1 ; Released: July 18th, 2017 ; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PlayStation 4 review copy of Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.