Fallen Legion Preview

Never lose focus.

The PS4-exclusive Fallen Legion may appear to be an everyday action-RPG, but it's the most intense action-RPG I have ever played. I don't say that lightly. The developers on hand for YummyYummyTummy at PlayStation Experience 2015 don't want to create an RPG where you can simply sit back, take turns with an enemy, and wait around doing nothing for minutes on end. So long as you're still fighting in one of Fallen Legion's stages, you'll need to make decisions quickly, proficiently, and with precision.

The short demo available at the event, which showcased the game for the first time, featured one forest stage at around the second chapter. You control a party of four characters, each controlled by the four face buttons on the controller, as they automatically run from battle to battle in side-scrolling fashion and fight against groups of enemies including soldiers, goblins, and dragons. The battle system takes a few inspirational cues from the latest entries of Valkyrie Profile—I would include the beat-'em-up Dragon's Crown and the RPG classic Xenogears—though Fallen Legion takes the action a step further by having very few break spots.

Describing how the system works in words is more difficult than it is to play it, which only took me about two short battles to comprehend. Each character in your party who are called Exemplars—legendary weapons (Apallon, Longinus, and Zulqifar) given human forms through the power of a Grimoire—has a circular action gauge upon their heads that have three segments. So long as at least a character has one action segment, that character can attack and contribute to a chain (up to five in the demo), and if you can string together certain attacks together, you can create a specific combo so long as your chain isn't interrupted.

On top of that is the ability to perform a perfect guard. Taking damage isn't so much of a problem since Princess Cecille, the sorceress of the group, can heal and resurrect Exemplars fairly easily, but the benefits of guarding at the right time cannot be ignored. If you can time a block at the right time, you can deflect a dragon's fire blast, earn instant action points for every Exemplar, and stun the dragon so that your characters can rush in and unleash every attack they can for a ridiculous amount of damage.

Taken altogether, between performing combo chains and watching enemy animations for perfect blocks, there's little downtime which helps keep the tension high and consistent across the level. In between battles, you'll also need to make story decisions in the form of choices between different cards within about five seconds. Most of these decisions have red, green, or blue borders around them, indicating that they are aligned with a certain faction. Yes, these decisions have different effects that tend to level your Exemplars in distinct ways, but importantly, they will change the direction of the narrative, leading to different branches and missions.

And on the story front, it's rather dark. The developers rightfully didn't want to disclose too much about how it was dark, but the editor for Virtue's Last Reward does have a hand in the script (so there you go). The king of Fenumia has passed away and Princess Cecille has discovered that the kingdom is in dire financial straits. Using the Grimoire, she needs to travel beyond the kingdom's borders to save her home, though the antagonist Legate believes that she doesn't have what it takes to restore Fenumia to its former glory.

Fallen Legion is a PS4 exclusive slated for Summer 2016. There may be plans for the game to be released on Vita (and it would be very much appropriate for the platform), but the developer is working on the base game first before making any decisions on a handheld port.