If I were to describe an RPG, I’d specify three things: exploration, a level system, and a captivating story. Unfortunately, Fallen Legion Revenants struggles with or outright precludes these. I do think there are some interesting ideas all the same. The battle system is unlike most that I’ve seen and the hand-drawn aesthetic is beautiful. The mechanics, however, felt oddly implemented. It’s a shame as I believe this franchise has potential. There are a plethora of great ideas that would assuredly help this title stand out. Sadly, after several hours of slaying the infected, I have mixed thoughts.
DEATH TO HIM! (Story Synopsis)
Fallen Legion Revenants will test your reflexes as you battle through the infected. Cast spells, dodge, parry, and strike your way to your goal; to murder the man that ordered the execution of one of the two protagonists. As the ghostly woman named Rowena, you’ll rush into battle with a miniature army of Exemplars – warriors born from weapons. Meanwhile, an arrogant, pompous aristocrat named Lucien will gather information on Rowena’s killer. Depending on your answers, it could alter the path ahead and lead to surprising paths. As the twosome work in tandem, will your decisions lead to answers or dire consequences?
SCATTERED POTENTIAL! (Writing)
The writing in general is quite the conundrum. I don’t believe I’d refer to it as amateurish but it certainly has an organizational problem. The narrative felt scattered; like it was unfocused thoughts jotted down. I’d like to preface that by saying that I understand that because it’s a branching story, it’ll withhold points. I’d then argue that despite being partial, it should still make a lick of sense. As it is, I just wasn’t that invested in Fallen Legion Revenants. It never picked up steam for me either. It likely didn’t help that the textboxes went by too fast to read in some cases. I feel maybe I missed out on important information.
For all the disjointed narrative though, there was good. I quite enjoyed the banter between Rowena and Lucien. It came across as genuine and I could sense their conflict of beliefs. For instance, Rowena will eventually cross a little girl who’s scared and alone. Despite her cries, Lucien demands she be ignored. Rowena will push back as her motherly instincts come into play. These are the situations that’ll force the branching paths. It’s a great way to add replayability. I also liked some one-liners here and there. Sadly, because I wasn’t invested, it was more a chore to cycle through the possibilities instead of fun.
While Rowena will be primarily used during battles, Lucien will collect information. He’ll roam the manor that her killer resides in and try to manipulate his way to vital intelligence. That won’t be all as he’ll be able to craft items, albeit in its simplest form. The ingredients are predetermined, unlocking only after gaining the necessary recipe. It’s shallow but what I found bothersome was gaining favor with other patrons. I never thought it clear which response garnered what reaction. I guessed more than I confidently answered.
PUSH THOSE BUTTONS! (Gameplay)
I’m a huge subscriber to the idea that awful writing doesn’t make a bad game. There are plenty with a poor story but fantastic gameplay. That isn’t true for Fallen Legion Revenants. I’d say its ideas aren’t fully realized if I’m honest.
Old school Final Fantasy fans will be at home with the combat system. It’s a weird mixture of Brawler and ATB. Each exemplar will have an indicator above their head with a specific letter displayed. If the player presses the button that correlates with it, the character attacks. There won’t be any button mashing either, thanks to the pseudo-ATB. The player can only order a hit three times. After a single use, it’ll slowly replenish. In other words, each exemplar can strike three times in succession. They’ll then enter a short cool-down phase before they can once again charge.
The A.I though can be rather merciless. So if the player doesn’t pay attention, they’ll be struck. In this regard, it demands your full concentration and I liked that. It did well to keep me engaged and focused. What I didn’t favor is how it feels like I’m actively fighting the game to protect myself.
Firstly, the battlefield itself is split into three quadrants. Both the player and the infected can only move along this. If one of them were to jump over to strike, I could theoretically avoid it. Unfortunately and secondly, the controls are clunky and aren’t very snappy. It takes a second for my inputs to register and it’s that delay that proves decisive. I failed more often than not. The only times I’d succeed was by complete accident.
PARRY, PARRY, PARRY! (Gameplay)
Other than dodging, you’ll also be able to parry an attack. It’s quite helpful with the ruthless A.I lurking. Although it’s a shame that doing so is a rather arduous task. This isn’t just for one reason as many contribute. The first is the side-view battles utilize. If several enemies of the same type were to jump over, parrying is nigh impossible. Because of their similar stature, the infected will blend together. It makes it very difficult to read when they’re about to strike. The only visible enemy is the one at the forefront. The others are hidden, able to attack without action from me. I died quite a few times due to this.
The second reason is, again, the inability to read the offense. I wasn’t able to tell when the ideal moment was to hit the parry button. Most titles warn the player with a blinking light. Fallen Legion Revenants requires you to pay attention to the animation of the monster. In order to successfully block, perfect timing is needed. While it’s possible, fights tend to be against three or four different infected foes. Because of this, the first issue I pointed out will be the common one. Therefore, I had a couple of battles that I survived only by luck and not skill.
AN UNBALANCED ACT! (Gameplay)
The definition of a sponge is a substance that absorbs. For those familiar with RPGs of old, they’ll recall bosses that share that in common. Fallen Legion Revenants harkens back to that era, needlessly prolonging battles. To make matters worse, every infected enemy has a shield by default. Those in general can take a while to chip through. I spent countless minutes slashing away, only to break through and cause minuscule damage. The presence of the flimsy parry system meant dying far more times than I care for. The entire process was tedious.
I feel that balance is a huge issue. There’s no leveling your characters up because they’ll never gain experience. You can find stronger weapons but those will usually be exemplars or not provide much of an upgrade. I’m not sure I can call it a spike of difficulty. To me, this felt like a spike in tedium and it results in a frustrating and unfulfilling time. There are deathblows that those exemplars can utilize to massively damage shields. Although, it isn’t much of one to the health bar. With a name that includes death, I’d expect more from it. Furthermore, to stoke the flames of balance, abilities take forever to master.
Finally, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. The battle system keeps me engaged and that’s the truth. It’s for that very reason the repetitive and chore-like nature of battles is amplified. I can’t shut off my brain while in combat, meaning I’m hyper-aware of just how unbalanced it is. I’m aware of just how tedious it can be. Engagement is great but it’s also a double-edged sword. Fallen Legion Revenants is on the wrong end of it.
TO SUB OR TO DUB! (Sound Design)
I really enjoyed the music on offer. In my opinion, YummyYummyTummy – such an adorable name – really hit it out of the park. Whether it’s the soft melodic violins of the manor or the more aggressive drum beats accompanied by a harder rendition of the violin. It really did well to motivate me in battles before the lack of balance brought motivation back down. The voiceover was really well-done and I found the cadence of the delivery to be spot-on. A player could sense the emotion in some words. I haven’t heard the Japanese but if it’s like the English dub, then it’s a hit.
AND THE EXEMPLARY VERDICT IS…
Fallen Legion Revenants feels like a game that actively fights itself. There’s a lot of potential here but it’s squandered by superficial ideas. Prolonging the combat with damage sponge bosses is a cheap way of doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind when this is the case. It’s the tedium of the system as a whole that has me scratching my head. Sadly, none of the potential this franchise has was realized with this entry. I covered Rise to Glory two years ago and I feel Revenants is a step back from that.
It’s not all bad because I did enjoy the music and voice work. I felt Lucien’s suited that arrogant aristocrat facade. Rowena had that soft-spoken, motherly feel. Sadly, the written work did it no favors but the actors worked with what they had. The story felt disjointed and held together by glue. Back to the music though as the docile violin was beautiful sounding, while the hyped rendition for battles had me motivated to strike down the infected. Unfortunately, spikes of tedium brought the motivation down again.
I think if damage output was heightened and enemies weren’t sponges, this could easily be a game to get while on sale. The way it is now is too frustrating and not fun. For the reasons above, I say that;
FALLEN LEGION REVENANTS IS NOT RECOMMENDED!
Many thanks go to NIS for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.