Gaming backlogs... You've got 'em. I've got 'em. We've all got 'em. That mountain of unplayed titles you picked up on a Black Friday or Steam sale or added as part of some subscription service or game pass. It was bad when you had a physical stack of cartridges or discs to go through back in the day. But at least those piles served as a constant reminder of what could be next in your rotation. Now that the gaming world has gone digital, the backlogs grow out of control without the feedback loop of guilt to finally sit down and get around to all that you have yet to even touch.
Well I don't know about you, but 2019 is the year I finally start working through the backlog. Yeah yeah, I said that in 2018 and 2017 as well, and probably earlier than that if we're being honest. But there's no time like right now, and so in 2019 I am pushing through the backlog. How? By dedicating one hour to every unplayed game in the queue. Now this is a queue that is growing faster than I can knock them out for the simple fact of my annual PSN subscription. So to just stay afloat I have to plow through every free 2019 monthly release for PS4 as part of PS Plus. The goal is about a game a week, one hour each, one hour a week. That should afford me the pace to knock out both the dual monthly PSN releases as well as two more from the existing backlog, each month, on average. Not a bad clip. At the end of that hour all I need is a simple determination: is this game not worth the hard drive space, should I let it stick around and get back to it later, or has it whetted my appetite such that I should place it firmly into my rotation and continue on to complete it?
First up: Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion. This RPG comes to us courtesy of a PS Plus freebie. It's not specifically in the January releases for PS4, but is a Vita title that has Cross Buy support into the PS4. So 60 minutes on the clock, let's see what we've got...
The review preview impression continues after the Read More link below.
After a bit of dialog that is uninspiring and making me do a lot of reading, the game jumps into the action and there are some buttons on screen relating to the controls: x and circle are predominant. I die real quick, on about the second encounter.
Now I have to go through the whole backstory again. Ugh. Are there checkpoints in this game?
I start mashing buttons and discover there is a switch and a block. Would have liked a tutorial about that...
Next encounter reveals that tutorial. Great timing, that...
Through the first battle and the plot comes crashing back in by way of droning text snippets that are neither engaging nor easy to skip through. I'm finding the plot and characters both rather uninspiring. Oh, and now there's a talking book, I'm just going to power through this text as fast as I can, but even at full speed that's still pretty slow... At the end of all this plot/text intervention is... nothing. There is no battle here. Just backstory and on to the 3rd level.
3rd level is the best so far, a long trip along a track with a fair few foes to take on. A decent string of action and I'm starting to get the hang of the controls. You are the magic user, you have companions that do most of the heavy lifting, but you have to be mindful of their health. Everything uses action points that regenerate very quickly on the companions but takes ages on your mage. So use the magic sparingly and spar with the front line troops. I can block and change order to protect injured comrades. And a perfectly timed block really opens up the foe to some damage opportunities, either stunning them or even throwing their projectiles back in their face.
4th level is more of the tedious text and plot. There's the talking book again going on and on. I guess this is the way if it - an action level followed by a plot one alternating through the game. It seems I can replay the levels, so I guess that's a good design decision to allow me to replay the actions bits while skipping the dialog that is contained in its dedicated space.
On to the 5th level and I'm getting a little frustrated with the actual combat style. It just feels laggy. I get that I'm actually queuing up attacks and there is meant to be a little more strategy that button mashing, but I can't say I'm enamored with it. Mostly because the blocking mechanic seems really important but also really floaty. There is too much going on at once to get into a real flow.
6th level and more plot but if I'm honest. It's starting to grow on me. I still don't like the delivery method, too much reading, but it's setting up some real dilemmas. Essentially your main character is the general of the army but that stupid talking book is apparently a force of evil and now everyone around you is contemplating a military coup to "save" the empress from herself and the empire for who? The people? We haven't even seen them. For the glory of the main character? Good and evil is starting to look a little less black and white and a lot more gray here.
And time. 60 minutes are up. So what's the verdict?
I like that they tried to do something different in the control scheme. It's a little clumsy, especially when trying to block because while some foes telegraph their moves honestly, you're often fighting 3 or 4 opponents and they can attack in succession on the 2D side scrolling plane effectively blocking the animations of the ones behind the foremost character. This ends up feeling rather cheap. I don't really like reading all the text for the plot but it actually started to grow on me bringing up some real dilemmas there for the protagonist. Could go in some interesting directions.
In the end I have my three choices: delete from my hard drive, file away to play later, or keep going. For this one I'm going to delete. I don't think it's a bad game, but it feels like a Vita port, which is what it is. If I had a Vita I would probably keep it on there and play a bit more. But the real estate on the PS4 is just too precious.
Fallen Legion: Flames of Rebellion is available for $20 on the PlayStation Store. As of time of this publishing it is still available as a PS Plus free game for January, but there is only about a week left to claim it.