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Since the announcement of “Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty”, the game has been on the watchlist for many soulsborne fans, or fans of the Team Ninja styled action games. Being part of the hypetrain, I’ve been looking forward to the game’s release, and were given the chance to try out the game on the close beta back in September 2022. With the beta, the development team has collected a decent amount of feedback and gave the game a final finetune before launch.
The game did feel different compared to the beta back then, and the most apparent feeling that I had when the ending credits rolled was: Is this game too easy?


 Core Combat System: Be like Water, Parry with the flow.

Don’t be mislead though, the game did come with the gameplay experience of souls-like game, you may easily be butchered by soldiers wielding cold weapons from the Warring States period, or get into a bitter fight with the accursed zombies or demons from the Chinese Mythology of “Shanhai Jing”(also known as Classic of Mountains and Seas). Getting backstabbed or mobbed by enemies after opening chests. Soulsborne players might’ve gotten used to this, but falling for it again is just as easy.

As a game with its core gameplay set around parrying enemy attacks, you’ll get used to timing yourself to parrying all the unblockable attacks indicated with a red vein-like glow, getting the perfect parry, shifting the Spirit Gauge from negative to positive, and go full offensive. And after getting used to this pattern, forming the habit of attacking right after a parry, the enemies designed later onto the game are bound to mess you up with all the alternating timings and hitcounts. But getting messed up and learn from it is part of the Souls-like experience, and as a souls-like junkie myself, the enemies never fail to surprise, and impress me with the challenges they pose to the player.

The late game boss fights in Wo Long are just crazy, it’s like everyone knew how to Waterfowl dance, leaping and zooming everywhere, and Lü Bu’s horse felt like it had wheels, as expected of Red Hare, the king of horses.
After gaining experience from all sorts of Souls-like game, we’re conditioned to observing the enemy’s attack pattern, holding in our primal impulse to dash in and get that extra slash in, releasing at the perfect moment, deflecting the enemy’s attack and turning the tides towards your direction. The shifting flow of offence and defence is exactly what “Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty” is trying to express in their game.


Though there are no difficulty options in the game, the Morale system does play a big part in creating a sense of elasticity in difficulty, as the variance in damage dealt and taken is very obviously reflected with the difference in Morale levels. You’ll take more damage if the enemy has higher Morale value, making every hit a killer move from the enemy with higher Morale than the player.

But it is also with the same system that, when you’re at the same level of Morale, it acts somewhat like a confidence boost to the player, making it less punishing and encourage the player to go wild, and that feeling of going rambo did feel great.
The game dev team did take in feedback very seriously, and the change of parry window, potion drinking speed and other QoL changes did make it into the actual game. The parry condition was changed to be more loose, with a slightly wider window for players to react to it, with continuous attacks being the ones that are actually harder to parry and anticipate. Thus, you can even say that the game is a “waiting game”, and it did indeed feel like one. The positive return of parrying a red move is just too big and great.

But it felt less balanced when it comes to multiple enemies. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty couldn’t really escape the loop that many other Souls-like game faced, which is the late game difficulty balancing issue. Such issues are often handled with increasing the amount of enemies placed at one place. Here’s where the recruiting aspect of the Warring State period comes in. As you progress through the plot, up to 15 unique generals are recruitable throughout the gameplay, with a maximum of 2 units summoned at once per stage. I do understand that Soulsborne players prefer their games played solo, but the generals do come with other merits, which is unlocking their weapons and gears through the bond system. Surely most Dynasty Warrior fans couldn’t resist to have their hands on the Snake Spear or the GuanYu polearm, right?

Though the main quest stages had fixed accompanying generals summoned throughout the stage, but solo is still a viable choice, attainable through the use of item to dismiss the accompanying unit.


Diorama styled Stages

The diorama styled stages are very well built and represented, from the snow covered Hulao Pass, the scorched lands of LuoYang, or the rainy XiangYang, the stages are all intricate in their own ways, with their own distinctive charm to recreate the scenery as described in the Three Kingdom novels. Other than the diorama styled stages, the enclosed prison stage felt just nice as well. The sense of exploring a city starting from the prison, layer by layer, penetrating through the deep and puzzling landscapes emphasized the three dimensional sense in the map designs.

The map design is not a simple linear path, but it comes with multiple branches of routes, overlapping itself into a layering complex structure. Exploring in such maps felt great, with glowing chests or loot leading the way to be baited into a fight with difficult enemies, but it felt the best when I saw the glowing light pillars indicating the Battle Flags. The Battle Flags functions just like a bonfire(Dark Souls ref), enabling the player to rest, get potions, level themselves, and also increasing the lower limit of Morale level. To put it in simpler words, get the flags, and you’ll get stronger. Thus it is also possible to avoid most fights and proceed to placing flags, and rush your way to the boss. But the flagpole checkpoints resets every time you reenter a stage, and you’ll have to repeat it all over.

Though the map design were great, but the enemies encountered felt more or less the same. Regardless of the enemy soldier’s affiliation, the biggest difference is the weapons wielded. Though slightly repetitive, the enemies were placed with an amount just right to be annoying, but not overwhelming. And the experience of fighting similar enemies are more or less the same. But the demon typed enemies posed a bigger challenge compared to the human type enemies, but the type and variance is just too less.

The five elements in the game doesn’t only reflect the player’s status, it also affects the affinity of the player towards Divine Beasts, Magic Spells, and weapontypes. The countering relationship of the five elements, metal, wood, water, fire, earth, do reflect in combat, but throughout my experience as a melee fighter, the countering aspect had a low presence in my gameplay. But with proper application of the five elements, it is slightly easier to counter against demonic enemies that comes with elements.

The game comes with 10 Divine Beasts, 13 unique melee weapontypes, and set effects. Every equipment comes with different bonus stat lines, thus farming for gear is still something in the game. Getting the right gear for the right playstyle is always part of the fun of grindier games, but the player’s status points can be easily resetted without cost, and equipment sets can be registered at the Battle Flags, for players to enjoy varying playstyles to their liking without limitations.

These are what I’ve experienced throughout my first playthrough of the base game, and gear grinding wasn’t really needed to get through the whole game. I’ve been enhancing my beginner gear and reached the end of the game, with the Demo bonus headgear that didn’t require anything to enhance. But it looked very bulky, and I went all fashion near the endgame, to reach the true fashion “endgame”.

I’ve spent 15 hours to get to the ending credits roll, and unlocked the postgame feature, and that’s where the grinding feel apparent and needed. There’s no NG+ in the game, but an extra difficulty is unlocked for most stages, with strong enemies that had very high minimum Morale levels, but they might drop 5 Star rarity gears too. But yeah, I haven’t even get through the first stage of end game content, I couldn’t really elaborate much on this for now.

Plot: Dark Fantasy Three Kingdoms with a twist

Wo Long was set in the setting of the Chinese Three Kingdoms, while combining some dark fantasy aspects. So it only made sense if the plot is somewhat rewritten. It starts with the Yellow Turban Rebellion, to the warring periods. But even in the altered storyline, most of the key events of Three Kingdoms is still acted out, the plot  development is somewhat different from the known classic of Three Kingdoms, but it still do converge itself back to the storyline of Three Kingdoms, which is somewhat refreshing and surprising indeed.

And it is also due to the fact that it is a Three Kingdom setting title, they didn’t really bother to elaborate on the characters, it is more towards announcing who’s doing what and what they did afterwards. I do look forward to the game developer’s explanation on this aspect. But the plot was acted out somewhat awkwardly, with everyone looking like they didn’t know what to do or where exactly they are, without one extra sentence to elaborate. It was as if the elaboration itself will destroy the whole world line.


Overall, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty went creative on the combat system, with the Spirit Gauge, Morale, and parry system that was introduced and focused on in the title. It is undeniable that the combat experience was exhilaratingly satisfying. The complex 3D layering diorama stages were great, though the enemy placement is somewhat repetitive and disappointing. The late game felt like a rush to Battle Flags and bosses instead.

And in my playthrough, though the first walkthrough had a great deal of playable aspects, but I haven’t really gotten into the gearing aspects, and got through the whole game with just basic gear. But the second playthrough does make me feel encouraged to get into gearing.

There really wasn’t any critical flaw that would sabotage the whole gameplay flow, and my conclusion for Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is that it provided a satisfying Souls-like action game experience to bring home.


| Sinx
Nmia Gaming – Editor | Sinx

A video game junkie with a high dependency on JRPGs and indie games alike, and is set out to dig out all the hidden gems(indies especially) out there.