Humans are a complex, social species. Throughout our life, we meet a ton of people, each with their own quirks, backstories and troubles. Balancing our relationships is a hardship that we all must endure. Politicians have it extra rough, as their web of relations is filled with allies, enemies, favors, and grudges. To achieve their goal, they must make sacrifices, sketchy deals, and decisions that change the fates of many. Does this sound difficult? In Fallen Legion Revenants, you play as a politician trying to topple an evil wizard, with the aid of ghosts, who fight zombies for you. The life of a politician sure is difficult.
The world has been corrupted by the mysterious Sluagh, corrupting those who touch it and turning them in vile monstrosities. The last, healthy living humans have fled to a floating castle in the sky known as Welkin, ruled by the Warden Igor. Yet he rules the place with a cruel hand, and a member of the council, Rowena, paid the ultimate price. Her son Edwin, who witnessed her execution, is still in Igor’s grasp, so she clung onto life as a revenant, and works with other ghosts to topple Ivor and free her son. To do this, she has to collaborate with the mortal politician Lucien. He must use his outstanding social skills to try and topple the warden from the inside, while Rowena fights outside in the deadly infested wastelands.
The story gets its main depth from the choices Lucien has to make, so when you remove it from that context it doesn’t have much going on. As a result, the story’s issues will be addressed later when Lucien’s gameplay is covered. For now, we can say that the story doesn’t live up to its potential and that not all characters get their character development when it truly matters.
The game is split into action filled sections where you command Rowena and her army of Exemplars. Between battles, you are also warped to Welkin where you play as Lucien, trying to win the favor of the people inhabiting the castle or sabotaging the way of life there, all to further your cause.
Combat – Rowena Segments
Rowena can bring up to three Exemplars (ghosts possessing their old weapons) on her journey who guide and support to accomplish tasks in the dangerous outlands. These Exemplars can attack foes when you press their corresponding buttons and spend action points (AP) visible next to their health and button with three AP regenerating over time. Dealing damage regenerates mana, and if you have enough, you get a mana orb. Exemplars consume this orb to use a powerful attack called a Deathblow. Rowena can use these orbs to activate her attacks, including a healing spell.
On the defensive side, pressing L at the right moment can parry enemy attacks. Depending on your timing, you can use it to reduce the damage you take or even reflect the damage back at the attacker. Doing this deals massive damage to the opponent’s stagger bar. If depleted, it leaves the enemy vulnerable for a short period. Parrying and blocking becomes crucial to surviving, as Rowena’s healing is finite. If any Exemplar falls, you can spend mana by holding their button to revive them.
Other Combat Features
Fallen Legion Revenants may look like a button masher, and you can play it as such, but that would be a monotone experience. There are extra features to unlock mid-game. The Mana Chain allows you to follow up a three-hit combo from one Exemplar with regular attacks from another Exemplar for an attack chain that regenerates more mana than usual. Also, attacking with an exemplar right after a perfect parry causes that attack to deal elemental damage, depending on the Exemplar’s element. In addition to that, mana management is crucial to your strategy, as you need it to do big damage, heal, and revive. If you get too reckless, it’s very easy to get caught with your pants down.
At any time between battles, you can warp to Welkin and see what plot to overthrow Ivor he’s cooking up. You will talk to the people present in the room to try to gather information, sway fellow prisoners, or make difficult choices that could dictate everyone’s fate. The information you gather here and the choices you make are crucial towards your standing with the other residents and the course of the story.
Time and Conflicts
You should note most of these sections are time sensitive. You’ll often have to gather information or sway opinions with a ticking timer on your screen. These force you to quickly run around the room to gather all the items and intel you can. Not doing what you should’ve done during that section can have consequences on the story, but not always. The penalty for failing to find something isn’t a dealbreaker in some cases. Not all of these sections are that significant, and frequently interrupt combat. The time limit luckily helps to keep the pace up, so it doesn’t break the immersion.
Your choices only affect your reputation in the perspective of Welkin’s inhabitants. There are bad fates, or endings, that you may unlock, but you do so through unavoidable decisions that just slap a wrong end in your face. Said “wrong decision” might even be a better choice, either logically or morally. If you do want to make it, it asks you if you’re really sure about it. Sadly, it’s difficult to get attached to characters, who could die from your choices because some only develop in the final stage of the story. As a result, the deaths aren’t that impactful. One of the characters even pulls a “I faked my death” after you choose to get rid of them! There’s even an interesting penalty for getting someone killed that we won’t spoil. However, the decisions you make can certainly come back later to bite you in the behind.
A good number of action games have sections in them where you’re forced to slow down and do a stealth section where you can’t get caught to clear it. These are quite controversial in the gaming community, as they’re often more annoying than anything. Fallen Legion Revenants have these too, but luckily, they don’t come out of nowhere and aren’t that hard. The game is still 2D, so it’s all about moving when you get the chance, and holding L when near a pillar to hide behind it. You can also pickpocket some guards to get armor and weapons for your Exemplars. Later in the game, different types of guards with different patrol patterns spice it up.
Exemplars & Customization
Even the most charismatic politicians need foot soldiers to carry out their missions. Exemplars have very little story relevance outside of their purpose as part of Lucien and Rowena. All they’re good for is helping Rowena fight, and they’re immune to Sluagh as opposed to humans. They’re dead warriors with souls attached to their weapons. The problem is that we never learn about their background, with a few lackluster exceptions. Some side-quests about their lore would have been nice to have and would’ve added to the depth of the system.
More about Exemplars
You can obtain Exemplars during the story, battles, or side quests. You unlock them in a set containing their armor and weapon. This way, you can also get gear for Exemplars you already own, so you can mix and match gear with different stats and different Deathblows. This gives the player the unique “Deathblow” with the potential to unlock new “blows” by getting the aforementioned gear. Deathblows have many uses and combining them is one major aspect of teambuilding. You can use them to push and pull enemies, attack certain tiles, enact debuffs, and other support options. You can also get scrolls, each one unlocking an upgrade for Rowena or Deathblows.
Base stats of Exemplars and their elements are imperative since the three elements (fire, electric, and ice) have a triangle system. Archeus are also equippable items that can be fused together to become stronger. These can have plenty of unique effects, like increased critical hit rate, or applying debuffs upon meeting certain conditions. They add some more variety, but the system is a bit cluttered with the amount you get.
Upon meeting certain conditions, every Exemplar can unlock up to four Mastery abilities. However, you can only equip one at a time. As the only level-based system in the game, it gives you freedom to change your party between battles.
Even if the game is decisive, the presentation is sure to keep you interested. The 2D art style is well-fitting and not generic with great character sprites and memorable background art. The music is also a pleasure, always keeping you engaged yet calm in the slow, sorrowful moments. Despite that, the OST is not an earworm that will stick with you for weeks. What sticks is the voice acting, but not all lines are voiced, and the side characters have very few lines. Erika Harlacher and Joe Zieja bring to life the voice of the stars Rowena and Lucien respectively. While the game has amazing presentation, its performance on the Nintendo Switch isn’t anything to write home about. Sure, the game runs fluently… if you get past the long loading screens.
A politician’s life is difficult to simulate, but Fallen Legion Revenants isn’t as complex as it wants to be. If the budget of the game was higher, Lucien’s web of allies, enemies, and plans could be more fleshed out. Aside from that, the combat does take a while to evolve from a button-masher to a true action-RPG. When it does get going, combat becomes highly customizable and highly engaging. The story and choices will still challenge your morality and your decision-making skills in the heat of the moment. If you are ready to climb the social ladder towards freedom and justice, consider checking out Fallen Legion Revenants.
Fallen Legion Revenants gets a 7/10.