Fallen Legion Revenants
You’d be forgiven for not knowing the Fallen Legion series of video games. Originally created in 2017 by the delightfully named YummyYummyTummy, and published by NIS America (Disgaea), Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire was a fun time, but hard to define. It’s part side-scroller, part J-RPG and part strategy-RPG, all mixed together with elements of a visual novel. A direct sequel; Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion was then released on the PlayStation Vita later in the same year. In 2018, both games were bundled together under the moniker of Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory and released on the PlayStation 4 & Nintendo Switch. And finally, fast forwarding to 2021, we have the third entry in the series Fallen Legion Revenants.
At A Glance
|Positives||+ Stunning visuals|
|+ Unique gameplay|
|+ Really involving story|
|Negatives||– Balance between battles and plot|
|– Battles are far too time consuming|
|– Important decisions have to be made in seconds|
I’m getting this out of the way from the off; you don’t need to have played the previous two games in the series to enjoy Fallen Legion Revenants. While Revenants shares similarities with the first two games, they are unrelated and shouldn’t hold players back from giving Revenants a try.
Fallen Legion Revenants places you in a world that has been decimated by miasma. This mysterious fog has claimed life on the planet’s surface and has turned most people into unrecognisable creatures. The last human stronghold, which happens to be a floating castle in the sky, is controlled by a madman who is up to no good. You play as two characters; Lucien, a political leader who is trying to influence a change of power, and Rowena, a ghost who is trying to free her son from prison. They realise that by teaming up they can each achieve their own goals and so the stage is set.
As alluded to in the introduction, Fallen Legion Revenants isn’t the easiest game to pigeonhole into a single genre. At its heart, Revenants an RPG: you have a sprawling story where different decisions affect how characters interact with you and as you progress through the game, you can level up your skills and fighters. At the same time, the game is presented as a 2D side-scroller. You might be thinking this is a confusing set up, but trust us, it works better than you think it would.
What’s not confusing are the visuals. The anime art style is simply gorgeous. The character models are detailed, full of emotion and really stand out from the backgrounds. The scenery itself is dark, brooding and full of character. The gothic style might be a little too muted for some but it compliments the story well. In battles (more on those later) you don’t lose track of your players, animations are smooth and the enemy design is top notch. The soundtrack, while not exactly memorable, is certainly complimentary to the theme of Fallen Legion Revenants. You won’t be humming along during your playtime, but you won’t be annoyed with it either. Everything regarding the style and gameplay mechanic builds to a really nice presentation. Considering this is only YummyYummyTummy’s third game, it’s very professional and has an impressive, high quality finish.
So the package is lovely, but what about the content? Well, Fallen Legion Revenants is a game of two halves. Lucien is our man on the inside. His role is to explore the castle, gain influence, and inspire others to stand with him. In addition to the exploration, he’s also investigating the political points scoring throughout the castle and embarking on the occasional bit of sabotage. While he’s the main driver for the story, you’ll be spending most of your time in battle as Rowena.
And the main bulk of Fallen Legion Revenants is set on the ground. As Lucien is alive, and therefore allergic to miasma, it’s left to our resident ghost, Rowena, to handle the heavy lifting. Luckily, she doesn’t have to do this alone. Rowena calls on “Exemplars,” spirits of fallen warriors, who have no problems heading into battle once again.
The battlefield is presented in two dimensions, with your team of Exemplars on the left and enemies on the right with each member of your party assigned to the “Y”, “B”or “A” button. Pressing a button makes the corresponding member use one of their three hits and attack the enemy. Once all three hits have been used for the character, you then have to wait for it to recharge before you can use your next turn. Rowena herself isn’t idly standing by either; pressing “X” (either on its own or in combination with “R” or “ZR”) will cast a spell to either attack the enemies or help out the team. Defense is also important, and the shield assigned to the left shoulder buttons helps deflect projectiles and open up weak spots. In practise, the battle system is deliberately slow and methodical – you can’t simply bash the buttons and expect to win; you have to plan your attacks and take advantage where you can.
Once enemies are defeated, you automatically run to the next wave until you complete the level. In true RPG fashion, progressing through the game allows you to power up and unlock more Exemplars, each with different skill sets. The battle system does take some getting used to but I have to say that it’s fun once you get the hang of it.
Fallen Legion Revenants does unfortunately suffer a counterpoint to each of the positive points. Battles are drawn out, arduous affairs that last upwards of thirty minutes each. Most of this time is spent either recovering and waiting on your character’s attack bar to fill up, or trying to land the perfect block so that it opens up your enemy’s defenses for you to strike. Once you’ve faced a round of miasma-induced zombies, you move onto the next wave and repeat the same process all over again. There were times during my play-through that I had to simply stop and take a break before coming back for more.
In fairness, the game does seem to recognise that this is unacceptable. During each level, usually around the halfway mark, you’ll assume control of Lucien back at the castle and are given a set time (between ten to fifteen seconds) to accomplish an objective. The tasks range from getting people to support your cause or voting against a particular movement – the choices have to be made quickly and once they’re complete, you return to your hack and slash session.
For me though, the biggest faux-pas is most noticeable if you’ve played previous games in the series. I’m talking about the removal of the overworld map. In the previous titles, you could visibly see your progress and when one battle ended, you could move your cursor and select the next option, whether it another skirmish or the next part of the story. In Revenants, you’re either in your castle talking to the same handful of people or out on the battlefield. Even with control of Lucien, there isn’t much to say;conversation is limited to a few lines of text from each character relating to what happened in the short battle breaks and not much else.
This means Fallen Legion Revenants put you in a strange situation. You have two locations: the battlefield where most of your time is spent itching to get back and progress the story, and the castle, where the plot moves forward at such a speed that you’re back fighting within five minutes of arriving from your last mission. It’s no wonder I sympathised with the Save Mage, questioning the purpose of life, wondering what the point of all the fighting is for. The game seemed to exude this feeling that “the grass is always greener”.
That’s not to say Fallen Legion Revenants is a bad game – far from it, in fact. Compared to previous titles in the series, Revenants improves in most areas. It’s technically more refined, the plot is more focused and battling is less about button mashing and more about strategy.That being said, Revenants is better suited to short play sessions. Playing a battle here or there motivated me in persevering with the game, and even though the story is hidden underneath the relentless shooting, sword swinging and magic casting, it was a rewarding experience.
It’s just unfortunate that for every improvement Revenants has made, so comes a consequence which hinders it. Yes, battles now require more skill than button bashing, but the sheer amount of time spent slogging away hampered my enjoyment considerably. Driving the narrative by talking to people midway through battles is a welcome change but.it is instantly counteracted because a 10-15 second window in which to make important plot decisions is simply not enough time. Too often you vote on a subject without having the full story, and the outcome isn’t what you would have aimed for. Then again, perhaps that’s the point, life is a testing beast afterall. You don’t always have all of the information, it can often feel like you’re in a never ending battle and life never, ever, gives you a map.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.