Review: Fallen Legion+ (Steam)

Fallen Legion+ is another fine example of a proper PC port from its initial console version. Or should I say, versions? The plus symbol indicates that Steam players shall get to play the definitive edition of Fallen Legion. In the summer of 2017, the PS4 and PS Vita saw the release of Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire and Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion. These two titles were combined in a single PC version which I shall review today. As the Steam debut of developers YummyYummyTummy and Mintsphere, I consider myself pleased by the end results of their labour.

Coincidently or not, the decision of fusing the series’ two campaigns into a single game, is one of the most inspired choices in its case. Both Sins of an Empire and Flames of Rebellion feature a distinct main character along with different locations and objectives. That last part is a bit confusing since we’re dealing with two pretenders to the imperial throne of a high fantasy realm. Princess Cecille is the rightful heir while Legatus Laendur is a low born usurper and a rabble-rouser. The ultimate prize of the civil war these two are waging? The vast Empire of Fenumia and all its riches and inherent power which is bestowed upon the anointed ruler. A talking grimoire (textbook of magic) serves as kingmaker and keystone to the realm’s stability.

Sins of an Empire shall focus on Cecille’s honorable fight to preserve her late father’s legacy at any and all costs while Flames of Rebellion features the illegitimate claim of a traitorous general which seeks independence and secession from the Empire, if he can’t control Fenumia in its entirety. For me, it was an easy choice in the regard. Even if for the sake of the replayability factor more than curiosity, I may attempt to advance in both storylines. Obviously, the gameplay mechanics remain the same. Fallen Legion+ couldn’t separate the core elements from one narrative thread to another and I consider that an adequate decision.

True, I may seem a bit biased in my description of the “protagonists”. There aren’t any heroes to this story which mixes notions of grey morality in the likes of which I haven’t seen in video games since I first played Dragon Age. Regardless of your affinity towards a protagonist’s legal claim, gender or projected power, this Fenumian Civil War paints both sides as being guilty of atrocities that go beyond the strict confines of a battlefield. Personally, I enjoyed playing with Cecille rather than Laendur, since I would have picked the same side and perspective in Daenerys Targaryen’s struggle for the Iron Throne, even if she’s also hypocritical at times.

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Without laws, order and dynastic continuity, the Empire’s very purpose becomes a moot point. Pretenders and secessionists who present themselves as “freedom fighters” and “heroes of the common people” are simply demagogues clinging to utopias first and traitors secondly. Plus, the “good” Legatus (general rank in Latin) has to break several vows in order to embark on his nonsensical crusade. You may choose to start both campaigns and see them through as you wish, since there are two distinct save files for each warring faction. You don’t have to worry about missing anything out by accidentally erasing your saved progress by trying a New Game with another combatant.

My first guess for the graphics engine used by Fallen Legion+ would have been custom and unknown. Luckily, a member of the dev team explained that their project is being powered by the Unity Engine. Ambiguity is not part of my style and as far as Unity’s concerned, I had limited complaints in its regard since the vast majority of titles using it, seem to function flawlessly in terms of stability and native resolution scaling. Fallen Legion+ follows this well beaten path and I have no issues to report about it. No glitches or crashes while the frame rate and resolution were within my preferences. Granted that there’s no 3D acceleration yet the art style and sprite animations are more than pleasantly rendered if you’re already acquainted with JRPGs and Anime.

Some of the game’s cutscenes feature voice acting (English dubs were the only ones tested by me) while the majority of NPC encounters are simply text-based and you’ll have quite a lot of dialogue to read and contemplate over your next decisions. At least I didn’t spot any typos. You won’t get lost in translation, of that much I’m certain. And Fallen Legion+ also shines through its combat mode where you’ll be hearing sufficient sound effects and one-liners. The soundtrack while nothing out of the ordinary, was still relaxing enough to amuse me when I had to compare it to grim realities of the seemingly endless conflict that was being portrayed on-screen. I guess that heavy metal was not on the menu and might have been even less suiting to the subtleties of Fallen Legion+.

Here’s the part that really makes Fallen Legion+ stand out from many of its genre counterparts. You see, this is an Anime-style RPG that eschews turn based combat in favor of a real time method that involves “clever button mashing” as I prefer calling it. The heroine and her ethereal party (Exemplars, which are supernatural soldiers) are going to face both boss fights and countless minions by perfectly timing counterattacks. There’s no way around this tactic if you wish to advance in this game. Randomly mashing D, F and S will not get you very far unless you know when to push Space for blocking incoming attacks and taking advantage of brief windows of time during which you may heal your troops. I have to say that this combat formula is new to me and I enjoyed the heightened sense of danger. Not giving players too much time in preparing their next move, is a close simulation of actual combat in more ways than one.

There’s no pause button in real life or the option to wait indefinitely until hitting “end turn”. Apparently few titles use such gameplay methods and digging online, I matched the Valkyrie Profile series as the closest connection to this particular combat found in Fallen Legion+. Again, we’re talking of former PlayStation exclusives that have shifted towards multiplatforms now. Valkyrie Profile can be played on mobile devices, but it’s not like I’m a fan of such ports. In any case, half of Fallen Legion’s charm comes from its storyline that’s a literal plot twist inside smaller ones. So predictability is out of the equation and I’m glad that very few clichés are present. I have to point out that I was displeased by the on-rails feeling of the entire campaign since unlike more conventional RPGs, you cannot travel where you wish or interact with NPCs and visit stores and other points of interest.

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Players just move the avatar/party with the directional arrow keys from one battlefield to another. Role playing elements which shape up the story by player decisions, involve choosing certain cards between battles. These vary both chromatically and though their consequences. Without spoiling much I will try to explain the choices you have to make in Fallen Legion+. Red cards represent the Prime Legion, Blue ones for the Council of Princes and lastly, the Green cards for March Congress. These factions will tip the scales in favor of the future ruler of Fenumia so despite having limited time in picking one choice from another, stick with one faction or morality standard/modus operandi if you wish consistent results. Red is the path of raw power and violence, Blue represents diplomacy and negotiation while Green is all about underhanded practices.

I’m a big fan of most role playing games since they allow the type of freedom and customization rarely seen in other genres. Fallen Legion+ sadly fails at this chapter since it features far too many constraints for players to fully enjoy their trip through Fenumia. I always like mixing combat and action of any kind, with much deserved moments of peaceful exploration and RPGs should never stray from this formula of success. I won’t bore you with the many differences between genres and subgenres in this case, but it’s also important to understand that Fallen Legion wanted to be different and unique in its own way. I can only agree that they achieved this and much more and I enjoyed Fallen Legion+ especially for its depiction of morality, war and “divine right to reign over others”. No corny love stories here!

All the screenshots you see above, have been taken by me in-game through the Steam Overlay.

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