Geek Review - Wo Long Fallen Dynasty

Geek Review – Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

In a space where the Souls-like genre has taken the gaming world by storm, it is great to see that studios are continually coming up with ways to surprise the community. While it can be an arduous task, Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja have managed to do just that and more with Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, creating yet another action roleplaying experience that serves as a high bar for others to follow.

The time period of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms has been thoroughly used by the likes of Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors series, but in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, it takes on a much more mature and nuanced look at events and characters. While there is still plenty of creative license taken with the focus on Demonic Qi and otherworldly creatures, there is much to enjoy from the narrative, which also serves to push players along for the ride.

As a nameless militia soldier that gets caught up in the machinations of a corrupted Taoist priest, it will be up to players to journey alongside many famous names and faces to get to the bottom of the mystery behind the demonic incursions around the land. It is undoubtedly a departure from taking control of the legends that made their names in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but having an original character for a somewhat original story makes sense.

It not allows iconic battles to take a slight detour, but also for a closer look at the many relationships that power the various alliances that determined the fate of ancient China. The darker tone adopted by Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty also increases the tensions and the stakes, setting it up nicely for the intense gameplay that shows its excellence in combat.

Geek Review - Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Across the many main and sub-missions that see the narrative in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty to completion, the variety on display is quite impressive, bringing players to burning cities, swampy boglands, snowy peaks and more. Each level is well-designed, allowing for the game’s combat and platforming systems to work well in tandem.

Equipping players with the basic skills of survival early on, it doesn’t take that long for the depth and complexity of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s combat to shine through. Beyond the stats and equipment, there are a couple of complementary elements to keep track of.

Morale Rank determines how powerful you are at any given stage, with enemies possessing a rank of their own. Do well and eliminate the foes that lie ahead of you, and you can build up to a maximum of 25. Taking on enemies beyond your rank can prove difficult, as this sees more damage caused with every attack suffered, so levels have a natural progression but also shortcuts if you are up to the task.

That said, while the numbers do matter, your skill is what is most integral to the experience. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty adopts a similar system to that of Nioh and Sekiro, having players care about more than just their health bar. The Spirit gauge is the main driver here, responsible for allowing players to unleash powerful Martial Arts or Wizardry spells, and also functioning as your guard against regular attacks. 

Geek Review - Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

The only way to build up the gauge is by being aggressive both on the offence as well as on defence. Keeping the pressure up and taking the fight to the enemy is the name of the game in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, while mastering the deflection system is what will keep you alive. Danger lies around every corner like in a Souls game, and this is so even for the starting enemies in any level. Usually cannon fodder in other games, they are instantly dangerous adversaries in this title. Blocking will only get you so far, and the only way to avoid damaging critical blows is to time your deflection well, giving you a shot to reduce the enemy’s spirit and counterattack.

With bosses that come with a repertoire of attacks that can instantly zap your health down to a paltry amount, it is imperative that players get familiar with the system and hopefully master it. Successfully deflecting attacks opens up a window of opportunity for fatal strikes against powerful opponents, an equaliser, especially if you are fighting on multiple fronts. While a skill-based system like this may not be for everyone, at the very least, the power is in your hands when it comes to achieving victory.

That is not to say that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty doesn’t help players out when it can. In most levels, there will be Battle and Marking flags that can be found. Players can choose to level up at any Battle flag and make preparations for the trials to come, but resting will also mean having slain enemies respawn. This is quite a standard mechanic and works well for those looking to grind for more Qi to bolster their character. 

Marking flags, on the other hand, will heal you and any companions that are along for the right. Both variants are vital in maintaining a minimum Morale Rank should you perish, ensuring that players are not forced to backtrack or face overwhelming odds when they return for more. 

The option of either co-op play with other players and AI companions also keeps things well balanced, especially against some of the more intimidating foes that bookend each battlefield. Going into battles with different AI characters can also grow your relationship, bringing more enhancements to their effectiveness as well as the ultimate prize of their unique gear set.

The aforementioned Wizardry spells, together with the Divine Beasts mechanic, also add to the strategic depth within Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Wizardry makes use of the elements to further augment the player’s arsenal both on attack and defence, allowing for the exploitation of elemental forces that can cancel out each other. As for the latter, they can be powerful summons that fight alongside you for a short duration, or are used to bestow significant bonuses to help you in the fight. 

A robust combat system is also matched well with the increased mobility found in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, with the player character capable of scaling heights and gaps with equal skill. This enables the level design to be more inventive and vertical, and more ways for the developers to include secrets to find and alternative paths to use to get the drop on the enemy. Thinning out the numbers using tactical sneak attacks is almost always the best option instead of going in all gung-ho.

That said, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is not without some niggling issues, even if they are not too significant in the grand scheme of things. Both the AI for companions and the enemy could do with some upgrades to their proactivity, with the former sometimes slow to join in the fight while the latter seems to have vision difficulties in detecting the player. 

Geek Review - Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

And while bosses are obviously a spectacle and the main attraction, the game could do with more variety in the enemy department, so as to keep the challenge consistently high for those that have grown too powerful for their own good.

Nevertheless, amidst all the many Souls-like games that are now part and parcel of the gaming medium, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty stands tall and proud as its latest flagbearer. Combining a stellar combat system with great level design, a solid narrative flair powered by excellent visuals, and so many memorable encounters with the legends of this epic saga, this is one journey that is worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears to get to the end.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty will launch on 3 March and is available on Lazada, Shopee, physical retail stores, and the PSN Store.



Another excellent Souls-like game to join the family, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty will please purists and newcomers alike with its well-designed systems.

  • Gameplay - 9.5/10
  • Story - 9/10
  • Presentation - 9/10
  • Value - 8.5/10