Today's modern RPGs can be massive time sinks. Other RPGs tend to streamline things and provide a more cut-and-dry experience that doesn't require too much of your time or hours of strategizing. Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire falls into the latter category with a simple and tight battle system, a fast-paced rhythm, and plenty of save points.
Does this RPG about a chaotic empire manage to make you fall for it, or is this game just running in place? Join me as we dive in and find out!
The Kingdom of Fenumia is in Turmoil, Will You Answer The Call?
Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire delivers its 10-15 hour story primarily through static cutscenes that are occasionally voiced. What speaking roles are here are done very well, but they are few and far between.
While the static cutscenes don't convey a lot of emotion, they are usually brisk and quick. The writing in the game, especially for the background and lore, is excellent, which helps pull you into the world. Any RPG worth its salt has this kind of deep and rich world behind it.
The story revolves around Princess Cecille, who has just discovered that her father passed away. This leaves her as the sole leader of the kingdom of Fenumia. Just as she discovers this, she's also given a magical book called the Grimoire that supposedly served as an advisor to her father.
Cecilla, far from home, must journey across the empire to try and bring it back together. As it stands, betrayal is afoot, and loyalties have begun to fracture since news of her father's death has spread.
With the help of the Grimoire, Cecille can summon Exemplars. These are mental projections of warriors from throughout Fenumia's history. Their existence is explained very well in the game's lore, which I would recommend reading. They are not ghosts, nor are they reincarnated versions of their former selves.
They're something in between, summoned from a great beyond and given form by the mysterious spiritual energy that fills that place. With these warriors by her side, Cecille sets out to try and bring peace back to her kingdom.
Beyond the rich backstory, Fallen Legion doesn't do a lot with the present events. You'll move through areas at a quick pace and only stop for quick conversations that end as quickly as they began.
The political landscape is mentioned but never capitalized on. You spend most of your time in Fallen Legion in battles. With such a great backstory to pull from, it's a shame the story wasn't more fleshed out in the moment-to-moment gameplay.
That being said, the game does incorporate a really interesting choice system. Between battles, you'll often be asked to make a decision about an event occurring in the kingdom. You'll have three choices, all of which offer different bonuses.
Be careful, though, because your choices could affect the kingdom's morale. While these choices could have carried more weight, the way they're woven into the moment-to-moment gameplay was pretty unique.
So, while the story could have been deeper and more nuanced with its political undertones, it still manages to keep you engaged and offers a world with a really interesting lore behind it.
Action-Heavy Combat Hides Deceptive Difficulty
The gameplay in Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire, uses a real-time action battle system that is easy to understand, but difficult to master. The first chunk of the game will allow you to mash buttons and not worry too much about your health.
This quickly changes as you progress, and you'll find yourself needing all of the bonuses you can get. When you're playing, your Exemplars are each mapped to the circle, X, and square buttons respectively.
Cecille herself is mapped to the triangle button and can use her own attack, heal your party, or ressurect someone who has gone down. Pressing the corresponding buttons will cause your Exemplars to attack, building a combo chain at the bottom of the screen.
Whoever deals the last blow in the chain triggers a special attack, so it's important to know who is attacking and when. Furthermore, blocks need to be timed perfectly in order to deflect or stun enemies, leaving them open for attack.
These kinds of things creep up on you and become crucial in the later parts of the game. You won't last long if you're not utilizing all the strategies available to you.
Beyond the difficulty spike, I have to say that I really enjoyed the battle system. It was responsive and intense without being too chaotic. While there's not a lot of customization outside of battle for your Exemplars, there is some using gems you find, and bonuses from decisions you make.
Beyond selecting levels on the world map, the game does all the navigation for you. You auto-run between battles and really only engage with the game in battle or by making decisions. If the battle system wasn't so fun, this would be a huge issue.
It still shows how the game is streamlined to the point of being too simplistic in certain areas, but this also makes it something you can pick up and play quickly. The option to save between the bite-sized levels is also much appreciated.
So, while not the most complex or deep RPG, it does offer a unique and fun battle system that works really well for fast-paced combat encounters.
Detailed Presentation and Cohesive Design
The hand-drawn art style of Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire lends it a beautiful aesthetic, especially in the main character models. Enemies also look excellent as well. The environments can start to wear thin in certain areas, but the overall look is excellent.
The gameplay also feels smooth with a steady frame rate, and while voice acting and music aren't emphasized as much as I would have liked, they both do a fine job of setting the atmosphere.
The unique moral choices and the 10-15 hour play time both do a lot to make Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire stand out. It's an RPG you can play in short sessions and it has a fun battle system. It won't ask for too much of your time, but it will reward you with some excellent features.
If you want something to satisfy you RPG needs, but you don't want to lose 100+ hours and tons of grinding time from your life, Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire is a solid choice.
It's a shame the story isn't more developed, and while the combat can get repetitive, it's the difficulty spike that wasn't quite expected. It doesn't rewrite the RPG genre, but it does show that these types of games haven't fallen just yet. There are still new ideas to be had and worlds to explore.
Final Score: 7.5/10
A copy of Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 7/27/17