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Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty – Complete Edition – Review

It’s time to take up arms and join in the fight of the Three Kingdoms, except this time with demons! If you’re thinking ‘‘wait, Dynasty Warriors has demons now?” Well, you clearly didn’t read the title, this is Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty!

Beginning in 184 A.D. in the late Han Dynasty China, you play as an unnamed militia soldier, who faces off in battles alongside and against historical figures from the War of the Three Kingdoms as the land is overcome with chaos and destruction. These unknown forces have also claimed Chinese mythological creatures that have been corrupted by demonic Qi. You will take up arms and fight using Chinese-themed martial arts to find the source of the corrupted Qi and put an end to it or whoever is in control of it. 

Long sword weapon art being shown throwing a energy blade toward demon

Personally as enjoyable as the story is, when compared to the gameplay it falls by the wayside. That’s not to say it’s an awful story by any means, it’s just that the gameplay itself is what really drew me in and where the majority of my enjoyment came from.

Interestingly, the name Wo Long refers to a crouching dragon, whilst also referring to a hero or person of greatness who is not yet known. This is very apt as the player character is an unnamed soldier who also meets officers who later become heroes.

There is no faster way to say what the gameplay is like without saying it is a Sous-like created by Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo who also crafted Ni-Oh 1 + 2 and Final Fantasy Stranger Of Paradise. However, where Ni-Oh is based on Japanese lore and mythos, Wo Long contains Chinese inspirations and iconography.

caster using stealth magic to get the drop on foe

With three Souls-likes under their belt, each with their own twist on the formula, you can expect this title to carry that same level of polish and attention to detail that the Ni-Oh games started and was pushed further in Stranger of Paradise. The controls are smooth and responsive with each weapon having unique play styles along with different caveats to how they act, such as the spears being longer reaching and dealing an armour debuff to enemies, giving the player various weapons to try out for you to find your specific play-style. 

Par for the course with a Souls-like, you gain experience (Qi) from slaying foes which is used to level your character at a safe zone (in this instance, a rallying flag) and when you die you will lose this currency. But fear not, if you can make it back to the enemy that felled you, then all you have to do is deal some bitter-sweet revenge to reclaim your lost Qi. 

View of a waterside and seemingly isolated village

As is the case with any RPG-styled game, your level and stats do matter but there is an extra mechanic thrown into the game, and that is fortitude and morale. These are both one and the same. Fortitude is gained by finding the rallying flags throughout a mission, some being the main ones that you level up and refill your healing item from and the others are there to just raise your fortitude. Morale on the other hand is gained from slaying foes and will accumulate. 

Now what’s the difference you may ask? Well to begin with any morale gained from killing foes can be lost when you are killed, whereas fortitude is a marker of the minimum your morale will fall to if this happens. Morale is how to gauge your and the enemy’s power as higher morale means you deal more damage while taking less, and yes, all the enemies you will face will have their own morale levels.

Player at the blacksmith looking to upgrade

Aesthetically Wo Long is so pretty (even despite the dark fantasy of it all) and all the loot you can think to pick up is accompanied by great art and high details placed into them that are visible while playing the game or in menus. The foes you encounter from the more human to the increasingly grotesque and demonic have extremely striking designs that will have you second-guessing whether you should charge straight into a fight or play it safe. 

Even when a stage is burning around you or a battlefield is filled with the dead, the game retains a high fidelity and smoothness to it as you pull off fast and fluid combos. The team absolutely nailed the sound design here. From the calming sounds of the home base music to the more perilous battles, they married the music with each occasion perfectly, and of course not forgetting the various noises of creatures gargling, rally shouting and metal clashing bringing it all together for a true feast for the ears.

player using whip to attack while ally gets ready to attack

The DLC from Wo Long is bundled in with the complete edition, and it’s all here, from the collaboration content to the three paid expansions. As much as more content is always a good thing, I can’t help but notice a pattern with Koei/Team Ninja, as they seem to have a thing about making the difficulty ceiling for the DLC spike wildly when compared to an already challenging base game (and this coming from someone whose played Ni-Oh 1-2 and FF Stranger of Paradise).

I have nothing against games increasing their difficulty as you progress but when the spikes seem to be a little higher it just feels a little unfair to do that to players. Even in the main game, there are occasionally fights that seem wildly harder than the stage you just conquered (looking at you Lu Bu), but I digress. The new fights and content that you will encounter are just as good as the core experience even if more of a challenge for fellow Souls-like masochists.

Player Riding on Divine Beast Chenghuang toward foe

All said and done I have extremely enjoyed my time with this game and plan to see every nook and cranny with all its hidden items and side missions. Wo Long is a fast-paced Souls-like that will push your patience and reflexes, my only minor quibble is the seemingly random difficulty spikes that happen, along with the parrying system seemingly not always working, but that may just be a user error over the game. The frame rate and graphical fidelity stayed consistent and smooth regardless of how much was thrown at me or what was going on in the background, however, I was playing this on a PS5 so I can’t say for certain on other systems.

As a long-time Souls player, this is definitely worth your time and attention and what better time to jump in with it now you can have all the content in one package?

9/10 star rating

Developer: KOEI TECMO GAMES, Team Ninja


Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One/Series X/S and Steam 





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