Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire (PS4) Review

Thorny Crown.

Seeing footage of Fallen Legion for the first time gave me flashes of two beloved classics. The visuals reminded me of Vanillaware’s Odin Sphere, with detailed and large, colorful sprites, and the combat reminded me of Tri Ace’s Valkyrie Profile, with a button representing each of the characters under my command. Suffice to say, those two are some of my favorite games of past generations, and any new IP that can invoke memories of those two demands my attention.

While it would be harsh to say that my initial impression of Fallen Legion was entirely misplaced as it has some good ideas, the execution leaves much to be desired.

Grimoire Weiss was much more charming and useful to boot.

MSRP: $19.99
Platforms: PS4, PSV (Different stories in each version)
Voice Selection: ENG only
Played: 12~ hours

With the sudden death of her father, Princess Cecille finds herself thrust into the role of empress of Fenumia. That is, if only she can get back to the capital to claim her rightful place on the throne. With the help of a talking Grimoire with an insatiable hunger for souls, she embarks on a treacherous journey, all the while pondering what it really means to be a monarch.

The overarching premise is rather simple, but there’s really nothing wrong with the plot being simple since that can mean it’s focused and easy to follow. However, it can also mean predictable and boring. In the case for Fallen Legion it’s more of the latter, with the emphasis on boring. There certainly are a lot of characters that are mentioned throughout the story, but there is a serious lack of actual interaction with anyone that isn’t a talking book.

One of the reasons for this is that all of the playable characters other than the Princess are avatars and personifications of the weapons that they wield and have no personality at all. Given that my party members were all deaf mutes for all intents and purposes of the story, it was left to Cecille to carry the narrative weight, and she wasn’t up for the challenge.

During the course of a stage, a series of battle encounters would trigger, which were often punctuated by three different choices I could make that would “shape the story” as the trailers would have you believe, but most of the decisions I made felt rather insignificant.

I was hoping these choices would be more in line with what it was like in Hand of Fate but their impact felt minimal.

Choosing certain actions during such moments could raise the morale of the country or decrease it, but much of it felt like busy work and didn’t result in many interesting moments. It also didn’t help that many of those choices would often mention the names of characters I never met and places I’ve never visited or even heard of previously, so I had a hard time really caring about the choices that I was making. In fact, I would often just pick solely based on what buff I could get to use for the rest of that stage.

The combat seemed promising at first, with an action gauge that built up for each character as I would command them to attack together or one at a time depending on what I was fighting. Each action phase had a chain counter, and at certain points I could activate powerful Deathblow attacks with special effects. I was also tasked with guarding at the right time to minimize or even completely negate/reflect damage, which took some timing but was satisfying to land.

However, the more I engaged in battle, the more it became painfully clear that there was one major flaw to this particular combat system. Instead of taking turns between allies and the enemy, both could act at the same time. The issue this brought up is that the enemies could attack during my attack chain and break it entirely. If I were relegated to fighting one or even two enemies at a time this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I often had to deal with four enemies at once, which all acted independently.

If I were to wait for them to attack first and perfect guard before going into my own attacks, there would be some stragglers that wouldn’t attack right away that would lash out when I was doing my counter attack, breaking my chain. If I were to go on the offensive right away, they would surely start attacking in the middle, forcing me to try and time my blocks to get a perfect guard, but if another foe would attack right after a guard, I would be unable to defend myself due to a cooldown, breaking the chain again.

This led to very chaotic and dull encounters, as it felt as I was better off just mashing buttons till everything on the screen was dead instead of using the various mechanics to come out on top using skill and strategy.

Keeping a combo going can significantly increase your damage but that can be more annoying to than it is challenging.

Visually speaking, while the 2D sprites looked great and animated well, the portraits used during dialogue scenes looked rather basic by comparison.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that this is not a full priced game and retails at $19.99, which takes out a lot of sting from the game’s various shortcomings.

Fallen Legion is a title that showed promise, with great 2D sprite work and a combat engine that is reminiscent of Tri Ace’s classic, Valkyrie Profile. However, due to a myriad of factors, it falls short of fully realizing its aspirations due to its humdrum story and chaotic, oftentimes dull combat.

Fun Tidbit – The PS4 and PS Vita version of Fallen Legion feature entirely different storylines, but without having played the Vita version, I don’t know how closely the two titles are connected and how integral the other is to understanding the whole story.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Written by
Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he's too busy playing games to do anything about it.