Publisher Koei Tecmo and developer Team Ninja’s Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty announcement left me somewhat excited but mostly curious. While the presented action was undoubtedly engaging, I wasn’t quite able to parse what would potentially make this experience stand out from other titles. However, after playing the demo, I quickly became addicted to the incredible depth this game houses.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty begins with players choosing between one of five phases that best reflects their fighting style; Fire for attack, Earth for defense, Wood for support and recovery, Metal for debuffs, and Water for stealth. This decision will determine one’s basic stats, starting spells, and Divine Beast, essentially an ultimate collective maneuver of sorts. Various melee weapons are utilized, too, each housing two types of attacks, which also have stronger variations.
When taking the sheer amount of impact such choices employ, coupled with the rather extensive tutorials, it takes a long while to truly grasp the intricate systems here. However, that reality simply made the gradual learning processes all the more fulfilling. It rapidly became evident that Wo Long has transparent faith in its players because, after the initial tutorials, it throws you out into the challenging wild where you have to learn as you go. Since while the tutorials are helpful, practicing in no-stakes situations doesn’t provide the same learning experience the actual main game will grant.
I found myself falling in love with the smooth movement where my reaction times and inputs coalesced, making me immediately realize where I went wrong across all of my failures. Still, some attacks require dedication to fully perform, thereby instilling a continual, gratifying sense of risk versus reward. Whenever I fell in battle, I eagerly tried new ways to defeat enemies faster or simply find different routes to get by. Embracing stealth with ranged weaponry or heading in full force, hoping my deflections and counterattacks would pull through, are some of the choices I pursued.
The countering in this game is probably what I’ve enjoyed the most so far since its implementation of the general risk versus reward umbrella is the most cathartic when pulled off right, especially against bosses. Speaking of, the boss-like enemies I faced were on a fundamentally different level than the mobs. A single missed dodge or mistimed counter can easily ruin an entire attempt, and while you do have healing items, so you don’t have to be perfect, relying on them in hopes of brute-forcing will not work. You really have to take the time to learn these movesets.
It’s difficult to professionally discuss Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty at length due to my beginner’s level of experience. Still, I can assuredly proclaim that it is a damn fun time. For those who love to get wrapped up in challenging action titles boasting an immense variety of builds, Wo Long should definitely be on your radar. After playing for hours, I feel like I’ve only perused a fraction of the multiple gameplay avenues I can walk down, and I’m hoping the customization remains consistently multilayered. I’m also hoping that this same challenge level isn’t exclusive to the demo and is kept for the full release because I’m yearning to see this game’s potential unabashedly realized.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Game Pass, and PC via Windows and Steam in early 2023.
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