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Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire review

Like many Otaku-Americans, my upbringing had a strong Japanese influence- with video games, manga, and tokusatsu occupying the bulk of my recreational hours amidst the 80’s and 90’s. Moments along the way pointed to a growing cultural convergence, with stores like Suncoast swelling their anime selection, while SEGA’s internal divisions bridged both side of the Pacific, with a partnership resulting in titles like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Kid Chameleon, and Comix Zone. Right before the fall of the mighty Dreamcast, it appeared that Eastern and Western creative energies would be uniting, ushering in an era of paradisiac synergy.

But sadly, it never quite happened.

Instead, games from both territories doubled down on custom. The U.S. and Europe devoted their talents to first- and third-person shooters, sandbox-type experiences, and sports games, while Japan stuck with elaborate narratives and role-playing games. Sure, this assessment is reductionist and there are a handful of exceptions, but that’s largely how both industries operated. So, when Yummy Yummy Tummy Games announced their plans to unite the principals of the East and West, I was eager with anticipation.

The first major result (previous titles were edutainment games) is Fallen Legion, an ambitious role-playing game with a narrative split across PlayStation 4 and PS Vita versions. And while many of the game’s aspirations are commendable, with Western talent emulating the anime-borne aesthetics, rich storylines, and searing Daisuke Ishiwatari-styled guitar riffs. But woefully, in execution, Fallen Legion never quite gels, resulting in a title that only the most patient of players will find laudable.

Certainly, the game’s context is rich with fairy tale-like promise. When the king of Fenumia dies, control of the realm falls into the hands of his daughter Cecille. Woefully, the empire is in precarious state, with appointed leaders each scheming for power, and the threat of rebellion pervasive.  On the upside, the late king bestowed a sentient grimoire and the princesses has the ability to summon a trio of ghostly warriors to do her dirty work, lending an iota of hope that the young royal can restore order to the kingdom.

And while a monarchy on the brink of collapse like a fertile framework, Fallen Legion often squanders its potential. For Sins of an Empire, players play as Cecille, with the PS Vita iteration, you’ll see the world through the eye of Legatus, a tactician conspiring against the empire. Although there could have been a fascinating Rashomon-like experience where perspectives join and juxtapose, Legion’s plot feels undercooked, largely lacking the poignant story beats that are customary for many role-playing games. At least some of this problem stems from Legion’s characters. While the Faustian deal struck between Cecille and the grimoire has its moments and Legatus certainly offers some interesting lines, everyone else is a bit one-dimensional.

Evidence of this is found during the ethical quandaries that are a core component of the game. Periodically, players are given a trio of options, such as when a subordinate ruler attacks a village. Although Fallen Legion does demonstrate repercussion for your decisions, with a NPC possibly admonishing your actions or a side quest opening up, direction in these situations is often driven by the perk which accompanies each selection. All too often, Legion urges you to disregard virtue, opting for an augmentation that can even the odds during an imminent boss fight. While the concept of contrasting mortal decency against a benefit for battle could have been interesting, the game’s writing does offer enough scornful admonishment. As such, it’s far too easy to let the fall for the incentive.

Much like the game’s narrative, battles demonstrate potential, extending a system that feels distinctive and could have easily been quite fun. Essentially, the face buttons on your controller or portable correspond to the actions of a quartet of adventurers, with confrontation presented on a two-dimensional ally. As long as each party member has at least one action point, they can attack, launching say a sword or arrow attack at enemies. Unsurprisingly, you’re able to chain together different strikes and even trigger some specials. You’re also able to utilize the powers of the main character, with Cecille casting injurious spells, healing allies, or even resurrecting foes- if she has enough action points. Solidifying the system is a guard command that can shield your team from incoming assaults.

And while it’s a solid system in theory, combat falters in execution. One of the foremost issues in the speed of defense, with your shield raised a half-second after it’s initiated. Since there’s no canceling, the wait can occasionally be longer, leading to characters smacked during the middle of an attack animation. While it’s enemy to watch for enemy telegraphs when there’s a single opponent, when there are multiple adversaries, getting that opening can be tough. Yummy Yummy Tummy seems to know this, and as such you’ll be relying on healing and resurrection heavily, which can make things like a war of attrition. Another issue is the shortage of explanation. While Legion imparts the bare essentially, players are expected to learn for themselves.

There are other mechanics that are similarly underdeveloped, like a leveling system that’s less than forthright. Yet, given the number of missteps Fallen Legion makes, it’s difficult to write the game off completely. For one, the game’s artwork is commendable. Obviously inspired by George Kamitani’s sumptuous sprite-work in Grim Grimoire, Odin Sphere, and Dragon’s Crown, the title’s characters are appealing, both in portrait form and when playable. Locales invoke a mythical European setting, offering a variety of backdrops for battle. Sonically, the game employs some well-known Western voice-actors, but their contributions are all too limited, with long passages of unspoken text driving the dialog and exposition.

Fallen Legion is an ambitious offering; perhaps it might have been a bit too much for a fledgling upstart like Yummy Yummy Tummy to handle. Conceptually, the game is irrefutably solid, with the team emulating many of the essentials of a Japanese action role-playing game. But in execution, Fallen is a different story, tragically missing several of its lofty ambitions.

Fallen Legion was played on the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita with review code provided by the publisher.

Fallen Legion
Platform: PlayStation 4, PS Vita
Developer: Yummy Yummy Tummy
Publisher: acttil
Release date: July 18th, 2017
Price: $19.99 on PS4, PS Vita, or a $29.99 bundle, via PSN
Like many Otaku-Americans, my upbringing had a strong Japanese influence- with video games, manga, and tokusatsu occupying the bulk of my recreational hours amidst the 80’s and 90’s. Moments along the way pointed to a growing cultural convergence, with stores like Suncoast swelling their anime selection, while SEGA’s internal divisions bridged both side of the Pacific, with a partnership resulting in titles like Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Kid Chameleon, and Comix Zone. Right before the fall of the mighty Dreamcast, it appeared that Eastern and Western creative energies would be uniting, ushering in an era of paradisiac synergy. But sadly,…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 60%
Controls - 45%
Aesthetics - 75%
Content - 80%
Accessibility - 60%

64%

Disappointing

Summary : Although Fallen Legion aims to recreate what makes Eastern games so enjoyable, a number of design issues prohibit the game from reaching its potential.

User Rating: 1.43 ( 3 votes)

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

16 comments

  1. Kind of sad how this turned out. I saw most of the scores it was getting was below 70.

    • A 63 on meta critic right now. Which is pretty bad considering that most games get scores in he 70s and 80s.

  2. “Like many Otaku-Americans….”

    Hahaha. Nailed it coming out the game.

    • I’m curious how the development process. Was it really East meets West or just Western developers trying to make a Japanese game?

      • The guy from Siliconera made a game with a former Aksys editor and voice talent from P5.

        To me, it sounded like money was the main issue. With enough cash, you can fix coding and development problems. Still, it will be interesting to see if they make or lose money on this.

      • From their site:

        “YummyYummyTummy strives to cook up creative games with a fusion of developers from the East and the West. Our mission is to develop unique interactive experiences for the world.”

        Pretty brutal review. but it sound like you set your hopes up too high. It’s not like a bunch of website and game editors are going to make the next Muramasa coming out the gate. Given them time. I bet if they have the chance to make it, their second big game will be good.

    • Preordered it because of hype. Two hours after I downloaded it, I thought WTF did I do?

      FL is not good. Its not fun. Except for the graphics (and it looks like multiple people worked on it because there inconsistency) its bad.

  3. 63% on Metacritic. Ouch.

  4. RWBY is East meets West.

    • No, RWBY is shit. It looks like a janky PS3 cutscene. It’s anime for the Hot Topic crowd. It’s fucking garbage.

  5. I really want to support up and coming developers. I’m torn on this one.

  6. I was lured in by the B1G1 bundle and the PS+ discount. I played both versions for about two hours each. The game is just OK, i couldn’t get the feel of combat and thanks for confirming that the guard button is laggy. I thought I was going crazy.

  7. Thee red haired girl looks like a character from another (JP) game. Someone help me out.

  8. Sounds pretty meh. Ill pass unless there’s a really good sale.

  9. The review was ,mostly criticisms but it still got a 64% ?

    That seems really high given what you said about the game.

  10. Jesus on a Vespa, some of the voice acting is pretty bad. Did the programmers do it themselves?