A Legion of Its Own
I’ve reviewed enough of what I can only call “Flash-esque” games that I’m not even entirely sure how to start these out anymore without recycling material from past reviews. I mean, I guess many people reading this wouldn’t know that I was doing that, but I would know. And that would bother me. But what doesn’t bother me is that these games keep getting made, slowly but surely. I’m sure that some people might get a little upset at me calling Fallen Legion Revenants a Flash game, and I get where that sentiment is coming from. But it’s not an insult. Really. I hold an incredible fondness for games that remind me of my earlier years spent on Newgrounds and Armored Games, and, like it or not, this game invokes those same memories.
But what does it even mean that Fallen Legion Revenants “feels like a Flash game?” It’s kind of hard to explain, to be honest—especially if you didn’t grow up playing them. But it basically means that it’s kinda short, not entirely perfect, but has nice ideas and a whole lot of heart. At least that’s what it means most of the time. And this would happen to fall under “most of the time.”
Death Can’t Hold Them
If I told you that the bulk of Fallen Legion Revenants‘ story took place within a floating castle and starred a once-powerful woman whose love for her son kept her spirit living even after death and a politically savvy man keen on bringing a tyrannical ruler to their knees, you might just think that this game takes place in some kind of fantastical, magical world. And you would be half right for thinking that. It’s very magical, indeed. But fantastical? No. You see, this game’s world is one steeped in corruption—both physical and metaphorical—where the situation has gotten so dire that the only way for people to truly protect themselves is to leave the earth itself by seeking refuge within the floating Welkin Castle. But, of course, while the castle may be free from physical impurities, it’s just as morally corrupt as everywhere else. And it’s that corruption that Rowena and Lucian—the aforementioned ghost lady and non-ghost politician gentleman—aim to put a stop to once and for all.
Fallen Legion Revenant‘s story is pretty neat. I like how it attempts to use its two protagonists, and its ability to blend politics and combat is genuinely impressive. Unfortunately, you can’t build a story on those abilities alone. You’ve got to make sure that you actually build your story out, too. You want to feed the narrative to your players in appropriate amounts and then give them the proper time to digest what they just witnessed. This game does not do that. What does it do? I’m actually not entirely sure; I couldn’t really follow the story.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the overarching story itself isn’t difficult to follow—and the voice actors in this game really add to the atmosphere—but I couldn’t help but feel like it was to do something akin to piling on all of the political intrigues that you’d expect from a The Legend of Heroes game within the time span it would take you to beat a Super Mario Bros. level. Okay, so that might have been a little hyperbolic. But you get the picture. Making a story with a politically centered plotline is really hard, and it’s not something that everyone can do. In terms of talent, I actually do think that YummyYummyTummy is capable of pulling it off. However, unless the devs are willing to dedicate more time to expanding the story, which is a lot of work, all of the supposed subtleties—which are very important for stories like this—are going to come out as anything but.
Side A: Cold Bodies
Given the fact that there are two characters in this game, there are also (as you probably expect) two major gameplay portions. The first, and most prominent, revolves around combat. As I’ve already said, the world below Welkin Castle is incredibly dangerous, crawling with monsters and people who have literally gone mad from illness. This would be certain death for a normal person. Fortunately, Rowena, and her troupe of revenants, are all ghosts, so the only thing that they have to worry about is… well, just about everything aside from getting sick.
I’m not sure what you’d technically classify Fallen Legion Revenants‘ combat style as, but the closest thing that I can compare it to is a spin on traditional turn-based ATB combat. While your party is compromised of four characters—Rowena plus your three chosen revenants—you essentially act as a single unit. Each character can be commanded to attack by pressing their corresponding button, with a single attack costing 1 AP. Fortunately, despite being a mostly singular entity, AP isn’t shared among character—nor is HP for that matter—meaning that you can time your attacks in order to do things like stunlock enemies with combos or deal massive damage with all-out attacks. Characters, including Rowena, are also able to use Mana orbs in order to utilize more powerful Deathblow attacks (or magic, in Rowena’s case), which, on top of doing more damage, can do things like deal status effects or elemental damage as well.
In all honesty, this game would get really stale really fast if all you did was mash the attack buttons over and over. Good thing that that isn’t the case! In fact, I’d argue that offense isn’t even the most important thing in this game; DEFENSE is where it’s at. By pressing the corresponding button, your party is able to guard. Guarding, of course, reduces incoming damage—but that’s not really what you use it for. You see, if you get your timing right, you can deflect attacks, which negates the damage entirely. And if you’re really good, you can even reflect certain projectiles back at your foes! Sounds cool, right? Well, I hope that you agree, because it’s literally the crux of this game.
Fallen Legion Revenants is fairly difficult overall, and that’s just fine. I like a good challenge. What I don’t really appreciate is the ridiculous difficulty spikes that this game throws at you. The amount of difficulty that I had beating the first boss compared to the second is wildly inappropriate. I understand that this game isn’t terribly long and that, because of that, it doesn’t have the leisure of slowly increasing the difficulty, but I can’t really say that I like it when a game slaps you in the face and expects you to pick up the pieces yourself as blatantly as this one did. It’s not impossible, but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t frustrating.
Side B: Warm Words
Every so often, in between the waves of enemies that you fight as Rowena, the perspective will switch over to Lucien. But if Rowena’s the one fighting, what does Lucien even do? Well, that’s an easy one—he talks to people! Seriously. When you’re given control of Lucien, you’ll be given a task to complete and a very short amount of time to complete it. More often than not, these problems have multiple solutions and come in the form of things like casting a vote or figuring out the best way to help or sabotage someone or something.
These “political segments,” as I call them, are very hit-or-miss. As a concept, I like them. The idea that you’re told to make an important decision and aren’t given ample time like most games give you is rather intriguing, and the effects of your decisions are usually very noticeable. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that this portion is entirely balanced. There were times where I was forced to make a decision before I still even fully understood what I was doing. I don’t know, maybe that was the point of the whole thing. But I don’t think that it’s supposed to be—and if it isn’t, that’s not a good thing.
Fights of Fancy
Between its beautifully hand-drawn artwork, stellar voice acting, and unique battle system, it’s obvious to see that a lot of love went into making Fallen Legion Revenants, and that’s something that I like to see. While there are some unfortunate flaws that present themselves too readily for me to ignore, I still don’t think that that makes this a bad game. A niche game, yes, but not a bad one.
Final Score: 3.5/5
Available on: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Nintendo Switch ; Publisher: NIS America ; Developer: YummyYummyTummy ; Players: 1 ; Released: February 16, 2021 (Switch) ; T for Teen ; MSRP: $39.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Fallen Legion Revenants provided by the publisher.