I guess I’ll get you bribe material, since you’re so bad at getting people to like you Lucien.
Type: Single Player
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: February 16, 2021
When I first saw this being showcased it got me interested immediately. It seemed interesting and I liked the artwork (yes, you got me) so I looked forward to the game being released. Well, I didn’t know that Fallen Legion was already an established series until a month before release and I may have panicked a bit. As I couldn’t possibly complete the others in time, certainly I could see if there’s some kind soul that explained the story so far. Luckily, I did find out that Revenants is friendly to those new to the series, as it’s not really connected to the previous games, so I can breath safely. So I’ll be coming in as someone new to the series. In terms of combat, I haven’t played Valkyrie Profile, but I have played another game that took inspiration from its combat called Indivisible. Granted, I ended up dropping it due to everything being bad (rather than just the combat) so I won’t necessarily be jumping in new to this combat system. So with that out of the way, let’s get into it!
Fallen Legion: Revenants has a pretty simple story. It turns out that the world has been covered by miasma, which slowly infects those on the surface and turns them into monster. The only refuge people have is Welkin which is a floating castle in the sky, but it’s not open to everyone it seems so they need to settle with having enough luck to not have the miasma infect them as much and they don’t get killed by the roaming monsters. But we’re not focusing on the struggles the citizens on the ground has to go through. Instead, you focus on two characters: Rowena and Lucien. Rowena is the whole reason why this game is happening, as she died before the game started and, as you noticed, she’s a ghost now. Well, a Revenant. When she was alive, she was a royal chancellor of Ivor, Welkin’s prison warden, but she was executed for suspicions of treason. She has kept her soul bound to this world and became a Revenant as her son, Edwin, was imprisoned by Ivor for being a traitor’s son. However, she’s a Revenant who can’t really interact with the world other than those infected with miasma enough to see and hear her. So she somehow found herself partnering with a man named Lucien who is a politician looking to dethrone Ivor due to him being an absolute tyrant by hopefully convincing everyone else in Welkin to be against Ivor. So, with the only realistic way to free Edwin is to have Ivor out of power and Lucien needing some outside help, they decide to have an unlikely alliance. No matter if their ideals clash in many instances.
While I didn’t find myself interested in the story once I got into it, I did enjoy the banter Rowena and Lucien have. You really do get the feeling that they rather not work with each other, but they must keep the other alive (or well, tethered in Rowena’s case) to get what they want done and that their morals and ideals do clash.
As you’ll mainly be in combat, I’ll go over Rowena’s half first. Rowena doesn’t fight herself, but she uses Exemplars, which are weapons that can turn into sentient soldiers that resemble (or are?) the soldiers that wielded them. Having three with her that she can command, you’ll then head out on the surface where they’ll run forward until you find some enemies to fight against. The battles take place with both sides having tiles that they can switch to. You can attack with an Exemplar by pressing the button that’s assigned to them and each time they attack, they’ll use up one Attack Point (out of three) which recharge when they’re not attacking. If you attack an enemy enough to break their armor (indicated by the yellow bar that will constantly fill back up) will stagger the enemy for a couple seconds. And when you’re enemy attacks, you can have your Exemplars not in the middle of an attack animation block in hopes to reduce the damage, reflect certain projectiles, or even execute a Perfect Block, which can reflect the more hard hitting attacks or those that are aimed towards tiles. Though, you really have to know the different timings of attacks to nail blocks as you have a second or two cooldown. The tiles, which may seem useless, are important here as you’ll attack the enemy that’s closest (whether that’s a tile or it’s one that’s up in your face getting their attack ready), ranged Exemplars can specifically target a tile, and there are multiple attacks (both on your side and the enemies’) that target a specific tile which you may want to push the enemy onto or get yours out of.
Rowena herself is more of a support role. As your Exemplars are attacking, this will charge up Rowena’s mana and each time it fills up, she’ll produce a mana orb (with her max increasing with each complete chapter). These mana orbs are important as Rowena and the Exemplars can use this to their advantage. You can execute an Exemplar’s deathblow (or a special attack) if you have both a mana orb and they have at least one AP available. This will either be an attack that can push or pull an enemy to a tile you want them to go or a strong attack, with it maybe having an element to it to that can do more damage if it happened to be the enemy’s weakness. Rowena herself also has abilities and you start off with her being able to randomly place down a healing time and two attacks that will push or pull an enemy. If an Exemplar falls in battle, you thankfully won’t be down someone for the rest of the level. As Exemplars are being controlled by Rowena, she can simply focus her will into them to bring them back (which is done by pressing down their respective button until their photo is no longer dull. Though, this will take away the ability to press the other buttons to attack (which may be intentional) and the more they die, the longer it’ll take for them to revive.
To be honest, you can really just mash buttons and be fine, with the occasional use of deathblows and Rowena’s spells to help you out (well, at least up to when I stopped in Chapter 5). Now this doesn’t mean there isn’t any strategy for players to grab onto or that it doesn’t try to nip it in the bud. Considering that there are attacks that target specific tiles and you may want to take out specific enemies first, it’s best to have those with the ability to push and pull enemies when needed (whether that’s Rowena or the Exemplars) or even one that debuffs enemy tiles. There are even enemies that have attacks that will debuff your tiles or are unblockable due to them targeting Rowena, making you move what could be your healing tile, with some debuff tiles even overwriting your healing tile (the nerve!). Some even have more of a chance of stunning your Exemplars, which can be annoying when they were going to attack and all the other enemies attack right after. Though, to be honest, these enemies aren’t much of a bother unless they’re annoyingly grouped up with another one of them or other enemies that are annoyances (but even then, they happen before bosses and you can still get past them when mashing). I’m not too sure if this was intended, but I did also notice multiple instances when enemies attacked in quick succession where you couldn’t possibly block them either because you already blocked or you couldn’t because you were just hit a millisecond ago.
There isn’t anything stopping you from attacking the way you want rather than mashing, like attacking one at a time (or with one grouped with a ranged Exemplar) so you can pay more attention to enemies so you can block without having all of your Exemplars stuck in attack animations. As it is really easy to just not notice an enemy (specifically ranged enemies) readying for an attack. But, you won’t have an incentive to not mash until later on. Well, other than Perfect Blocks restoring AP. As you get further in, you’ll unlock the ability to do Overkills that restore some HP to the Exemplar that did the killing blow, do Mana Chains which is activated (I believe) by having an Exemplar regularly attack for all the AP then having another one regularly attack will give extra mana (which this can be exploited as that can be used to start a new chain and slide it to the third Exemplar), and Elemental Edge that is triggered when you do a Perfect Block and immediately attacking with a different Exemplar.
The stand outs you’ll have are the bosses. They’re tedious, but they’re all pretty unique that challenges you to try and figure them out. Not to mention, when they stagger, you’ll get a couple seconds to attack without AP being drained. All the bosses have something unique to them that requires you to go against them in a different way than you would normal enemies or just the previous boss. A lot will do an attack after they get out of stagger, but you’ll encounter one that will summon special enemies that can cleverly be instantly killed if you pull them to what’s giving them power (though it did bug out on me to where they were on the same tile, but was still alive), one that do a nasty AOE when you melee it, and one that even requires you to have Perfect Blocks down to even have hopes of continuing (which, spoiler, the boss I’m talking about has you parrying attacks like you’re playing tennis).
Sadly, there is a complaint from me concerning bosses. Some bosses, mainly ones at the end of a chapter, have multiple health bars that you won’t know about until you get it all the way down and they come back twice with their next health bar. I’m okay with bosses having a lot of health, hence multiple health bars, as it’s a good way to show how powerful they are and to trigger their next phase to show how they’re getting more desperate to stay alive and kill you. I just prefer if this was shown (maybe with the classic red to yellow to green?) when going in as bosses have difficulty spike in Chapter 2, with a specific one in Chapter 2 being really difficult (and I’d say is the second most difficult boss I encountered) if you go down a certain path. The biggest offender is the boss encounter with a timer, which puts you on a different path and is a requirement to defeat to get something secret later on. You’re not strategizing knowing that the boss has multiple health bars and phases, just one, so you put you’ll all into it and get blindsided by it having more health and hoping you don’t die so you don’t have to go through the previous difficult phase again.
Once you finish a level, you’ll be graded on how well you did (max chain, total damage, attacks parried, and if anyone died). Your score seems to determine how many Archeus you can pick and the higher chance it’ll be a more powerful version.
So is there any grinding here? Well, no but yes. There are no levels for Rowena or the Exemplars so you can freely switch them out if you want or the situation requires it. Instead it all depends on what you have equipped on Rowena and the Exemplars you’re taking with you. Deathblows are based on equipment (or scrolls for Rowena) that you’ll get every so often at the end of levels which will require Lucien to to get them examined before you can use them. Their stats are messed with by the armor they have equipped and the Archeus (which will either boost Rowena’s next spell if they do something specific or boost something like break damage). The Masteries, though, are the grindy aspect. Each Exemplar has five Masteries, but you can only equip one, that you must complete a prerequisite (like Perfect Blocking 100 times or staggering enemies 600 times) to unlock them. Completing Masteries will let you equip more than one Archeus and completing four will unlock the fifth one. Luckily, there is an Arena that opens up where you can grind these out if you desire, but you don’t have to if you have no desire to.
The other half is Lucien’s, where he deals with the political side. First of all, you’ll play as him between levels where he’ll be able to talk to the other Welkin residents (though, they won’t have anything new to say for the most part), have weapons/scrolls examined so you can get new deathblows or new Exemplars, go into the aforementioned Arena, brew a potion that will help Rowena in battle (which can range from healing Exemplars to buffing them), use the Oracle to Save, go to other chapters (well, if you want to lose your progress), and see Fates (which are early ends).
But, once you actually go into the next level, the screen will split to signal that it’s time to go to Lucien’s perspective on what’s happening during this time. Giving you a break as well as breaking up the combat encounters so they hopefully won’t become so dull so quickly. Here you’ll be doing some political decisions so change can happen from within as well as playing mind games so you can safely get information without getting others suspicious (or even getting someone else to be blamed for treason). Most of these have a time limit, which most of the time I didn’t find necessary, where you’ll need to interact with those part of, and not part of, the council to gather information, alter how they think of you, get something done, and hopefully increase the influence Lucien has. Your relationship and influence will determine if these characters will defend you or see someone that’s being unfairly targeted, preventing you to getting to an early end or helping you out in certain situations. You’ll also have several instances where you’ll have to do stealth sections (which, I didn’t completely like as you can easily run into the guard’s sight as the screen pans) where you can plant or destroy evidence or overhear conversations, gear puzzles that will determine what route you end up going down, or be tasked to make a potion for Rowena. While Lucien’s sections confused me here and there, it was interesting how his actions did end up influencing the game as he can even cause other characters to die, which can be crippling if it was someone that you had a good relationship with.
Though, I never really felt I had a good feel on how these characters felt about Lucien. You do get a pop-up saying how they feel whenever you learn something new or choose a dialogue choice, but who keeps track of that and it can be cut off as it switches back to Rowena. It’s also hard to tell whether the dialogue they’ll give Lucien in between levels is like that no matter what or based on your relationship as it doesn’t change until the next chapter. There were times where I had to rely on having a good relationship with someone and while there were times where I was like “Yeah makes sense, I don’t know why I called on you”, there were also times where it didn’t as I’ve helped them or their blurbs just moments ago suggested they were fine with Lucien.
Other than Lucien’s decisions in the middle of levels having a long term consequences, you do get other choices that are more straight forward as they’ll be pertaining to where you’ll be going (though they still have a chance at having a consequence down the road). Literally going down either path will net you items that you may or may not be able to get later on, new information, an extra level (or skip a level), and even a boss that you otherwise wouldn’t have encountered if you went down the other.
I do have some other gripes that are probably more annoyances than anything. When you’re choosing Exemplars, you can’t change their position from the departure screen if you happen to notice that your ranged attacking is in the front and your tank isn’t the one in front and in the position where he’ll be aimed for the most. I don’t believe you’re told this, but it’s because you need to select your ranged Exemplar first and your tank last. I don’t really see why you couldn’t switch Exemplar positions on the departure screen. On this, I did find myself wishing you could see what an Exemplar’s equipment was (more specifically their deathblows) so you wouldn’t have to select three Exemplars and then having to go back to deselect them if it’s one that doesn’t have what you need. I also felt that the departure screen needed a way to tell you when you’re departing with or without a potion. I didn’t notice any icon that shows up when you do have a potion and while this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it is when you’re going up a boss (and who wants to restart the level over just a potion). The reason is because there were multiple times where I swore I made a potion, but I didn’t have one when I started the next level. At first I thought it was just me misremembering, and I didn’t want to bring a complaint that was my fault, but I soon found out it was because if you examined a weapon/scroll after you made a potion it will use it up as well as the game not remembering that you made a potion if you saved after you made one and exited the game so you won’t have to make one when you come back to the game the next day.
In terms of replayability, there is a lot. There are various early endings you can get, multiple choices that will put you on different paths, and your relationships between Lucien and the other Welkin citizens can change the outcome you’ll get. There are also two epilogues you can get for Rowena and Lucien, but you can only get one per playthrough as it’s based on your key decisions based on what I can gather.
The only performance issue I notice is that the frequent loading screens do often hang for a bit while it’s loading the next area, with it crashing when it was loading me into the boss battle once. I didn’t find this too annoying, though I know it will others, but I did find it annoying that it crashed while loading me back into a boss that I died to. Thankfully, I made it a habit of saving right before going out into each level and didn’t lose progress other than having to go through the level again so I can get back to the boss.
I really wanted to like Fallen Legion: Revenants. I really did. However, I just quickly soured on the combat, found Lucien’s half interesting (but not overly), and didn’t find myself interested in the story. Though, the soundtrack is good and the voice actors do a great job. I guess this just ended up not appealing to me as much as I thought. I simply found myself reluctant to return to the game, trying to prolong the time away from it, but at the same time wanting to finish it more so to give this a fair chance (even if I ended up dropping it in Chapter 5). But the combat makes me so exhausted and just looking at gameplay of what was next for me if I continued makes me even more so.
I’d say try the demo out first before you buy Fallen Legion: Revenants. The demo covers all of Chapter 1 and should give you a clear idea on whether you’d enjoy this game or not. See how you feel about Rowena’s combat half the most then if you like Lucien’s political half and lastly if the story grips you. It may seem weird to consider the combat the most, but as this features combat a lot, you won’t enjoy this game as much if you don’t enjoy the combat. If you find yourself really liking the combat, I’d still suggest maybe waiting for a discount, since there are still problems here, but it does seem this game has enough content to feel satisfied if you don’t.