Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory is a tricky game to pigeon hole, as it isn’t quite like anything I have played before. As always in these situations, I rely on the words of Sergeant Joe Friday, covering “Just the facts, ma’am”.
The facts in this case are that Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory comes from the developers at YummyYummyTummy and was first released way back in the mists of time, in 2018 in fact, on Steam. It has now come to consoles bundled with its follow up game – Fallen Legion Revenants – which will be the subject of an upcoming review. Described as an “intense action RPG”, you need to get all thoughts of Elden Ring and the like out of your head, as this is nothing like that masterpiece.
The narrative of an RPG, whether action style or not is vital, and luckily Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory has you covered. In an interesting move, the narrative of the game is split in two, with your choice of character deciding which branch of the story you follow. The protagonists are Cecille, the daughter of the Emperor who, as the game opens, receives the news that her father has died, and as such is the new Empress. This branch of the story is called Sins of an Empire, and sees Cecille trying to restore her home back to its former glory, aided by a talking book that likes to eat human souls. Yes, it’s an odd one!
The other branch is called Flames of Rebellion, where you play as Legatus Laendur, who sees this whole succession thing as an opportunity to free his homeland from the cruel yoke of empire, and forge its own path. Luckily, both branches play out the same, which is handy, as the combat systems are pretty bonkers too, but more on that later.
The presentation is an odd one to try to describe too. The art style is beautiful, with a lovely hand drawn vibe to not only all the characters and enemies you come across, but to the backdrops of the levels as well – even as far as the map screen, not traditionally a strong point of lots of games. The design of the characters you control are firmly on the anime end of the spectrum, and while the enemies range from tiny goblins to screen filling dragons, the design ethos is clear throughout. Frankly, Rise to Glory looks great.
It’s helped that the sound sent out is also a strong point, with fully voiced cutscenes featuring reasonable acting (although Cecille does sound like her voice is being run through a device to make her sound like a robot, for some odd reason). The music and battle noises are all present and correct, and broadly speaking, I have no complaints about the presentation side of the game.
It gets a little bit harder when it comes to describe what Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory is like to play. As I have mentioned, there is a map screen to navigate around which will take you to a number of different levels. Some of these levels are merely there to set the scene, playing through conversations and chat, but the majority require us to burst into action. And what action it is! Each level that we have to fight in takes the form of a side scrolling, almost endless running affair, and the running is only interrupted by the abrupt arrival of enemies that we have to fight.
These foes have to be got rid of, and both the characters fight in the same way, by summoning “Platonic forms of weapons”. Nope, I don’t know what a platonic weapon is, but basically the main characters summon them to fight by imagining the forms of heroes from legend – so Apollon is summoned to be an archer, and Zulfiqar is summoned to be a big bloke with a sword, and so on and so forth. As we progress through the adventure, we can find and defeat extra characters that we can then summon to our team. Choosing which characters to take to a level soon becomes vital.
Actual combat is an odd mixture of frantic button mashing and tactical play. Each of the Exemplars (as the platonic weapons are called) has a button assigned to them, and then your character has another. So, A, B, X and Y are assigned to the various characters, whilst each one has a kind of circle that fills up, each segment of the circle representing an attack possibility, if that makes any kind of sense. The only other button to really worry about is LB, which is the block button, and if you manage to time a block perfectly, it can reflect an arrow or fireball, or stagger a larger foe, allowing you to get some unopposed hits in.
Tapping the attack buttons sees your Exemplars set up an attack chain, and every fifth hit is called a Deathblow, with a more powerful attack coming out. If you are hit, however, the chain of attacks resets, so you need to keep an eye on what the enemies are doing at the same time that you are trying to press your attacks. It is very hard to explain, but makes perfect sense once you try it out.
The main character, whichever you choose to play as, has a dual role. They can use magic to attack from afar, or they can spend their mana either healing all the party members, or they can use more to resurrect Exemplars who have been defeated. Once all the Exemplars are dead, you have a brief window to tap the Y button in an attempt to gain mana and summon someone back, otherwise the next attack will kill you stone dead, leading to an early shower. If you are in a boss fight, then you start there, but otherwise you have to start the whole stage you were on again. Maybe with a different line up of Exemplars, eh?
As you progress, you also unlock extra Gemstones that when equipped change the behaviour of some Exemplars. A cracked sapphire, for instance, may make Zulfiqar protect his team mates after a perfect block, and there are many others to find. There are also relics to equip that get used up after one use, but may just be enough to turn the tide of battle in your favour. Getting the right balance of characters to take advantage of the Gemstones you have equipped leads to some tactical considerations.
The last thing to consider is that as you run through the levels, you are presented with a scenario and three possible responses; you have to choose one before time runs out. This can have consequences down the line, both good and bad, but in the short term will heal your party and maybe even give them a buff. It’s another layer of complexity that helps keep you engaged.
All in all, I have enjoyed my time with Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory. With my supercritical head on I could say that it gets a bit samey further down the narrative, but new foes and bosses help keep things pretty fresh. It doesn’t play like anything you will have played before, which is a novelty in this day and age when it seems everything has been done previously, and so it’s one that is good to recommend to those looking for something a little different. Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory has two strong stories and more levels than you can shake a stick at. Who could ask for more?
Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory is on the Xbox Store