Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty isn’t remotely anything new in the gaming world. The makers of Nioh have simply taken what they are so good at already – fast-paced action-RPG games, and adopted them into a new setting. Unlike Nioh, which takes place in Fuedel Japan, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty centres around the Three Kingdoms of Chinese history. If you have played Dynasty Warriors, this setting will be familiar to you as it is based on the same era.
Of course, this is a Team Ninja game so there was bound to be some magic and sorcery involved in this setting and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty doesn’t shy away from that at all. The action RPG genre mixed with this demonic and if anything, spiritual world, makes Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty a true gem to play. If anything, the magic aspect gives the game the much-needed fantasy direction so it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I started off Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty as an unnamed hero. After sorting through a robust character creation, the game slowly eased me into the various mechanics I would soon thoroughly enjoy. I have to say that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty doesn’t shy away from its learning curve. The first boss, is in fact, one of the toughest challenges I faced in the game. In a way, it acted as a sort of rite of passage to prove my patience and skill at the game. After I died a few dozen times, I slowly mastered the core principles of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and if you can’t get past him, keep trying.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty adopts many of the usual mechanics found in other Soulslike games. In particular, Nioh and Stranger of Paradise came to mind quite a lot while playing. The mission selection screen is a staple in these games. Not to mention the loot system also follows the usual “quantity over quality” mechanics and I was bombarded with dozens of items I spent countless time sorting through.
But the combat is a mixture of familiar and new. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty has a lot of Ninja Gaiden in it and features a parry system which you’ll enjoy if you played the series. A perfectly-timed parry deflects attacks and also breaks your opponent’s stance. Almost every attack can be deflected besides unblockable ones. However, enemies seldom use these attacks which means after mastering the parry system, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is gold.
It also helps that the deflecting window in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is quite generous so you don’t have to nail it in order to benefit from the parry. I remember recently playing Wild Hearts and having the worst time trying to master the umbrella weapon’s attack. I feel that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a lot more approachable in this regard. It is also quite easy to spot when an enemy is going to use an unblockable attack. So the game becomes the juggle between deflecting, dodging and spamming your own attacks in between.
Once an enemy has its stance broken, you can also unleash a powerful grab attack which looks cool and deal some decent damage. Some bosses are easy to cheese with this system as their parry timing is quick to master meaning I ran around an arena, deflected attacks, dealt heavy combo throws and repeated the same thing.
Parrying also feels so good and even though it becomes quite an easy thing to do, I felt like a badass every time. In co-op, one player would parry and the rest of the party would just dive into the broken enemy with spam attacks. It just gets a bit ridiculous after a while. Easy to do, easy to perform and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is the furthest thing from challenging at some parts.
Don’t get me wrong, the game can be tough when it wants to be but this is definitely a lot more accessible than most if not all soulslike games in the genre. In every mission, I could also summon an NPC to help me take the aggro and even fight enemies. These NPCs level up, unlock new skills and even grant me armour sets if I maxed out their level.
Enemies can break my stance too if they deal enough damage and I miss the deflection timing. This would result in my character being exhausted for a few seconds as I waited for the gauge to refill. Essentially, this Spirit Gauge is the stamina bar and determines how much I can do on my own before backing down for it to deplete.
I haven’t even touched on the various weapons and fantastic magic systems in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty yet. Weapons come with different play styles that determine how slow and fast you attack. Hammers and mallets are slow weapons but deal some heavy damage. Swords are in the middle while katanas as fast-paced and nimble.
Magic also ties into the game’s level system. Every time I levelled up by using XP earned in combat, I had to distribute these levels into different elemental paths. Each path, in turn, dictates what build you’ll go into. If anything, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty forces you to use magic in some way or another. You can’t not use this because of how the game’s levelling system works. Earth, for example, unlocks electric attacks and some cool armour buffs which reduce incoming damage. This dictates a tankier character build.
There’s a lot to enjoy when it comes to crafting builds, unlocking new skills and of course, utilizing all the equipment on offer in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Any RPG nut would have a good time here. While I did complain about the amount of gear that dropped in the game, it definitely wasn’t as much as Nioh and Stranger of Paradise so you can at rest knowing that is a bit calmer this time around.
Outside of combat, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty also encourages exploration across its many missions. Every stage is highly detailed and littered with items to find, treasures to collect, hidden powerful enemies to kill and of course, bosses. Areas are also filled with these flags which can be rallied at throughout the game. Flags refill health and act as checkpoints. It is the usual Soulslike system here. However, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty adds to this with its Morale system.
As you rally at flags, the overall Morale Rank increases for the said area. The higher the Morale Rank, the more skills I could use. You can’t just use any skill at any time in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. You have to level up the area before that can happen. Enemies also have their own Morale Rank which dictates how strong they are. So if you see a level 14 and you’re level 2, it is going to be an intense fight.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is good fun. It isn’t as remarkable as Elden Ring and might not last as long as you would want it to but the game’s action is exciting. Every new mission encouraged me to search high and low for new items. Every boss fight had me on the edge of my seat dodging, deflecting and pulling off crazy moves. It is what you expect from a game Team Ninja game and I don’t think you should overlook this one.
This Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty review was based on a PS5 code sent to us by Team Ninja. The game is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC. It is also available on Xbox Game Pass. You can purchase it starting at R1159 here.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a familiar experience but the new systems at work add to the already-exceptional master-crafted combat Team Ninja is known for.
Great world design
Some bosses are too easy