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Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . While not especially deep and a little too linear for its own good, Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire manages to skirt expectations in a few crucial ways. I really enjoyed the chaotic nature of the combat and the story that revolves around a princess and her talking book. There's a compelling adventure here that manages to feel fresh all while stumbling over every fantasy trope along the way. Not every game can pull that off. Rating: 64%
Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire
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Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire
  • Review Score:

  • B-
Everybody tells me that I should read more books. They're probably right, but with so many games to play, movies to watch and TV shows to binge, I find that I just don't have the time to curl up with a good book. Normally, I would be embarrassed to admit this flaw about myself, but I don't feel that bad about it after playing through Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire. Believe it or not, this brand new PlayStation 4 game makes a convincing argument that books are evil and will eat your soul if you're not careful.

This is the story of a badass princess and her talking book. With the economy in shambles and war tearing the country of Fenumia apart, Cecille thought things couldn't possibly get any worse. And then her father died, forcing the battle-weathered princess to become a reluctant leader. She's given a magical tome known as Grimoire to work as an adviser and help ease the transition. Little does Cecille know that this is not your ordinary talking book, but rather a demonic force that feeds on human souls. With no other options, this unlikely duo is forced to work together for completely different reasons.


This sets up an adventure where the princess and her talking book travel all throughout the country getting into fights, solving problems and making tough political decisions. The good news is that Cecille is able to summon three warriors to fight on her behalf as she travels from one spot to another. This allows her to stand back and command her army, all while providing healing spells and casting magic attacks to back-up the troops. She may be young and inexperienced, but this princess is more than ready to take down a dragon if needed.

I hesitate to call the combat turn-based, because what we have here is an all-out free-for-all where you're controlling four characters at the same time. The battles in Fallen Legion feel like a cross between an old school arcade bawler and a rhythm game. The idea is that each of the three fighters is given their own button, so it's up to you to tap out which character you want to attack from one moment to the next. You'll quickly discover that there's a combo system that will increase the damage you inflict, as well as a guard mechanic that will reverse attacks if timed right. The result looks chaotic, but is actually pretty easy to keep track of once you get used to it.

One thing I noticed right away is that every stage plays out exactly the same way. You'll race into a beautifully hand-drawn location and immediately start fighting a gang of guards and monsters. Once you've clobbered those foes, you'll run to another battle, where you'll repeat the process all over again. And then you'll race to another batch of enemies. And then more enemies. You get the point. Occasionally you'll run into a friendly face who will bring news of what's happening in the kingdom, but then it's off to more running followed by more fighting.

Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

What I like is that this game is good about reminding the player that Cecille is still leading the country, even if she's off fighting monsters most of the time. As you run from one group of bad guys to another, she'll occasionally need to make choices that will affect the country's morale and give temporary perks to the summoned fighter. You'll also earn gemstones, which you can use to modify your team's stats and gain the upper hand.

Although it's a little repetitive, there's a lot about the combat that I really like. It's fast and always exciting, forcing players to stay on their toes in order to expertly dodge moves and string together combos. There are also a few epic boss fights that will put your skills to the test. Forget button mashing your way to victory, because these epic battles are all about observation and memorization. There's a skill to the combat that isn't immediately obvious, and I think that's why taking down some of those big bosses towards the end was so damn satisfying.

That said, I do wish the gameplay was a little deeper. Sure, there's skill involved, but you're still limited to only a couple of moves from each warrior you summon. It's also disappointing that there aren't more exemplars to choose from. If the combat is going to be this barebones, then you would think that the developers would pad out the roster list to make up for the shortcomings. They didn't do that here, instead opting to give you only a handful of characters to choose from. The good news is that these warriors will eventually "evolve" into more interesting characters, but that comes far too late in the story to truly shake things up.

Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

On the topic of disappointments, it's a shame that Fallen Legion didn't build up its role-playing elements. You won't find experience points, money and leveling up here, which means that you never have to grind to better your chances in a fight. While I don't miss the grinding, I do wish there was equipment to buy and ways to customize the crew. The game constantly hints that it's going to open up and give us more to do, but that never happens. Instead we're left with a game that never fully commits to its unique concept.

On the other hand, Fallen Legion is gorgeous. We're treated to a hand-drawn look that immediately reminded me Odin Sphere, GrimGrimoire and rest of Vanillaware's catalog. My only complaint is that we see the same backgrounds a few too many times, but at least they look great each and every time. I also dig the character sprites, though, once again, I wish there were more of them.

While not especially deep and a little too linear for its own good, Fallen Legion: Sins of an Empire manages to skirt expectations in a few crucial ways. I really enjoyed the chaotic nature of the combat and the story that revolves around a princess and her talking book. There's a compelling adventure here that manages to feel fresh all while stumbling over every fantasy trope along the way. Not every game can pull that off.
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