It’s tough work running a fantasy kingdom. Political intrigue here, a smart-ass talking grimoire there, loads of life and death decisions to be made at the quick press of a button. Not an easy task for the daughter of a recently deceased king, but Princess Cecille in Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire can do it with a little help from you, of course. Indie developers Yummy Yummy Tummy and Mintsphere have cooked up not one, but two challenging games (The other being Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion) that tell opposite sides of the overall story that should give PS4 and Vita fans a good reason to grab both.
Granted, there are a few flaws here and there, but if you liked the Valkyrie Profile series and VanillaWare’s more slickly polished titles, this one will be right up your alley. We’ll get to the Vita game and Legatus Leandur’s tale in a second review, but for now, let’s keep the Princess in our sights.
A fast-paced tutorial kicks off the action and it’s one where you’ll need to pay close attention as this isn’t a simple button-masher action game. While she can cast some powerful spells, Princess Cecile isn’t a front line combatant and has to rely on her Exemplars to do the main dirty work. Mapped to three of the face buttons, her initially small but soon to be ever-changing army of well-armed murder machines will need to use teamwork throughout the game in order for Cecile and the kingdom of Fenumia to survive.
As noted, merely jamming on the buttons will send you to your digital doom in a rather fast manner. Timing is crucial, blocking even more so and when you hit that perfect sweet spot of nailing a few perfect combos, blocks and magic strikes, the rush of satisfaction lingers until you have that “oops!” moment guaranteed to occur when things get too hectic. One complaint against both versions of the game is when enemies end up overlapping and you have to do a bit of guesswork with all the clashing and spells flying about. Still, keeping a cool head and using known/recently learned moves or making sure Cecile can keep her team alive through these bits are skills worth learning well.
At crucial moments, you’ll need to choose cards that alter the story line while allowing for assorted buffs that have varying positive to negative effects. The game is made to be replayed multiple times, so don’t panic and think you’ve done the wrong thing when your choice of cards ends up making your subjects or certain party member less than happy. For the most part, things move along at a snappy pace, but you can explore the game’s lore at your leisure if you like. Exposition is a bit abrupt overall with minimal voice acting and very nice music carrying the game where it needs to go. Expect between 12 and 15 or more hours of playtime, but more if you decide to poke around and check out as much content as you can in one go.
Most of the issues with the game are budget and time-constraint related, but a few recent patches have cleaned things up nicely. There’s a world map that lets you get from point to point, but the game has no true “exploration” options outside of each platform telling different sides of the same story in a few of the same locales. The visuals are indeed solid, but in a way are too close (but less richly detailed) than some of the games that inspired it. Then again, these gripes are minor ones in the grand scheme of things, as the game does what it does well enough to be replayable if it gets its hooks into you.
At the end of the day, both Fallen Legion games work as a fine examples of indie games that aren’t over-hyped wallet busters (each is a mere $19.99 on PSN… or you could just take a chance and save money by buying both games bundled). The nice thing about both games telling different sides of the story is you can buy one version and commit to the other if you like what you’ve played as both games are exactly the same on the gameplay front and despite a few cliched moments, aren’t a bad way at all to spend about 25-30 hours with.
Score: B- (80%)
Review code provided by the publisher