By Anthony L. Cuaycong
THOSE NEW to role-playing games should be forewarned. Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory is an acquired taste and takes some getting used to. As a definitive collection of titles and content previously released on the PlayStation 4 and the PS Vita under the Flames of Rebellion and Sins of an Empire banners, it packs a whole lot of wallop. The Switch version, published by NIS America, presents you with a choice to start: Be on either side of a conflict in Fenumia, an empire bent on territorial expansion, with set objectives, and their attainment, dependent on point of view. In the end, though, the need for a full appreciation of the presentation and the content may yet spur you to go through both campaigns.
The good news is that Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory earns its keep. The completist in you will want to get the whole story by first playing Princess Cecille, whose ascent to the throne following the death of her father puts her in the frontlines, and then Legatus Laendur, whose opposition of and to the status quo stems from his belief that corruption has pervaded the empire. Going through the entire experience in reverse order will yield as much enlightenment.
Regardless of perspective, progression in Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory comes by way of a map that shows cutscenes and battle points, with combat drawing on the strengths of your principal character and the other members of the party. Called Exemplars, these companions find their specific attributes enhanced by gemstones, gained through encounters in the battlefield. Which is to say repeating favorable combat situations will yield tangible benefits, a must given the absence of retries or extra lives.
As elaborate as the premise may be, the battles take center stage in Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory. The mechanics border on the complex, but, on the flipside, motivations come from hard-earned victories. And even as the endeavors get easier over time, it helps that the game is visually and aesthetically pleasing, with the hand-drawn art style paying homage to such notables as Odin Sphere and Dragon’s Crown. Meanwhile, the absence of any action and interaction in which the story is told provides a counterbalance; the narrative advances through text on the screen superimposed on still pictures of the characters.
Parenthetically, Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory boasts of outstanding sound direction; gameplay audio is complemented by music tracks that appropriately contribute to the ambience. And while they tend to be repetitive, particularly when you’re done with one campaign and are going through the other, they’re well designed and suited to convey the right sentiments at the right times. Considering how both the narrative and the action can occasionally devolve into tedium, they’re a decided boon.
In terms of controls, Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory is decidedly workmanlike. There are no touchscreen or motion options, so you are left to choose between the Joy-Cons and the Pro Controller. That said, neither presents any handicaps whether docked or on the go. In fact, they more than do the job they’re set out to perform — with no frills and no gimmicks, but no input lags as well.
All told, Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory is an extremely competent title worth its $39.99 price tag. It’s certainly the best version of Fallen Legion in any gaming gadget, bar none, a welcome development if you’re aiming to double dip. And if you’re new to YummyYummyTummy’s creation, you’ll get immersed, if occasionally lost, in its lore; spend enough time learning the intricacies of its combat system, and you’ll find yourself rewarded with some 60-odd hours in Japanese RPG heaven.