Our Score: 9/10
Dramatic and action-packed, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty follows the struggles of an unnamed militia soldier in a demon-infested Three Kingdoms during a dark fantasy rendition of the Later Han Dynasty. Players use Chinese martial arts-inspired swordplay to fend off dangerous monsters and opposing warriors, all while trying to find their inner strength and triumph against the odds.
The Last Dynasty Warrior
The events of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty take place in late Han Dynasty China, about the year 200. In contrast to what you could learn about China in a textbook, this one has some significant changes. China is in the midst of total anarchy and ruin as the last days of the dynasty draw nigh, and terrifying humans and beasts roam the streets, endangering the lives of innocent citizens. Gamers get involved in the fight against evil and the restoration of peace as members of a militia.
Thankfully you’re not alone as there are NPCs that can aid you in combat. The Oath level you have with a friend increases as you fight with them. If you stick with an ally long enough, they’ll get more powerful as their Oath level rises, and they could even give you a duplicate of their preferred piece of equipment. The non-playable characters were helpful since they weren’t mindless drones whose sole purpose was to draw opposing fire away from me. Instead, they took an aggressive stance, doing significant damage to bosses and influencing my approach to each and every fight.
The action role-playing game Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is very challenging. As in Souls games, players have the option of staking claim to certain parts of the map. These flags mark outposts where you may rest, recover, and replenish your supply of Dragon’s Cure Pots (health elixirs). When you go to one of these flags, all enemies in the area will spawn again. Recovering and restocking resources is a never-ending balancing act in which you must be careful not to make things more difficult for yourself.
The actual fighting is really organised and systematic. You may use melee and ranged weaponry to do anything you want to your adversaries, but the game’s rules make fighting seem more like a game of chess. Players must use offensive and defensive strategies in the battle, which takes inspiration from Asian martial arts.
Since they usually block head-on swings, the quickest approach to expose your enemies vulnerable to strikes is to deflect, which is effectively parrying. The analog stick may be used to deflect attacks away from you in a certain direction. This will help you maintain control of the combat and keep everything in front of you if you’re facing off against numerous foes at once.
You’ll see a second bar, labeled “Spirit Gauge,” underneath your health. The gauge is depleted by blocking attacks, evading, utilising Martial Arts skills, performing Wizardry spells, or employing Spirit assaults. When your Spirit Gauge is entirely depleted, you will be temporarily incapacitated and very vulnerable to assaults. Spamming attacks and blasting forth a barrage of punches without thinking about it will get you punished. Spirit may be restored by conventional assaults and effective deflection of opponent attacks.
The fact that your adversaries also have a Spirit Gauge is a cool feature. In Wo Long, every enemy from regular troops to bosses has a visible Spirit Gauge that you should use to time your attacks. When my opponent’s Spirit was at its highest, I would stand back and let them assault until they were exhausted. If their Spirit was low, I would start attacking them with Spirit assaults in an aggressive manner to wear them down for a Fatal Strike. It’s a wonderful exchange that pays well for those who can maintain their cool throughout.
Exploring Wo Long’s world is a relatively linear experience, guided by the narrative and broken up by shortcuts, side paths and secrets. Visually, its palette is less colorful than either Nioh game, but the countryside and villages’ detailed textures and art direction capture 3rd century China, just like Nioh did for 17th century Japan. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty might not be bleeding edge in the looks department. But its art direction, fluid animations and music work together. The game looks and sounds great.
On PC, the game is not the best optimized so if you’re a PC player you should be aware of this. Like current PC ports, this looks like one that could be fixed in a few patches and updates. Using a controller is also highly recommend at the moment. On current-gen consoles, the game runs quite well and only has minor frame drops or stutters.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a fantastic souls-like game that takes everything from the Nioh titles and builds on it while adding new and meaningful changes. If you enjoy Team Ninja games, especially Nioh then you have to play this game.