Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is an upcoming souls-like by Koei Tecmo, the game is set to release next month but we got to do a deeper preview after our initial preview.
The game centers around its main character rising up from being a nobody to becoming a hero, with the help of multiple figures from Chinese history.
These figures all have a great deal of personality and screen time, as the player gets to interact with them throughout multiple cutscenes and by using the game’s companion system.
The main character is fully customizable and doesn’t seem to speak, the game’s character creator is very in-depth and allows for a lot of customization, down to your character’s stance and more.
It is extremely easy to make a good-looking character, in fact, even going out of your way to make an ugly character is challenging. It also has a boob slider, so you know the game can’t be bad.
The gameplay is mechanically similar to other soulslikes like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the comparison is easy to make especially because of the posture bar that both games share.
The game’s posture bar moves both ways. If it goes all the way to the left your character will have their posture broken, and if it goes all the way to the right you can do a “spirit disruption” execution.
Every enemy engages with this system and has their own posture bar, which can also go into the positive or negative, evening out the playing field.
The combat is very parry-heavy and is extremely satisfying to engage with. Team Ninja’s previous title, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, also had a similar system and it seems to have been perfected in Wo Long.
Enemies attack very frequently and fast, which makes the combat have a really smooth flow. Many titles with parry systems end up becoming a mediocre waiting game where an enemy swings once every twenty seconds, so it’s nice to see that Team Ninja took the time to perfect the system.
Wo Long also has some really well-made levels. The environments are pleasing and the exploration is rewarding, you are constantly incentivized to explore the game’s vertical level structure by receiving stronger equipment or items.
Exploring doesn’t feel tedious, as the game constantly keeps you on your toes with ambushes or strong enemy captains blocking checkpoints, the levels also don’t overstay their welcome, as the game moves at a very nice pace.
Wo Long has a very unique mechanic pertaining in the Morale Rank, which gives players an incentive to explore if they are faced with a super strong enemy.
The Morale Rank directly affects your strength, each area has their own rank and it can be increased by defeating strong enemies or by finding places to plant your flag.
Each enemy has a Morale Rank of their own, as it can serve to show which foes are too dangerous to be fought at the moment.
The game’s spells also require a certain level of morale to cast, so magic users will want to explore the level as much as possible so they can actually use their stronger spells.
Where Wo Long really shines is through its boss fights, which are usually against giant feral creatures like corrupted tigers or a crazed monkey. Below is some footage of an early boss fight:
The bosses are incredibly aggressive and mobile, and the player is only allowed to get their bearings once the boss decides to go beat up the player’s companions.
Figuring out the timing of their attacks is a very rewarding dance that the player is rewarded for engaging with, breaking the posture of a boss also allows for a damaging spirit disruption attack.
Team Ninja has a reputation for making hard games, after all, they are responsible for the Ninja Gaiden series. Wo Long is no different, but it does feel way more accessible than Nioh and some of their other titles.
Wo Long hasn’t felt unfair, overwhelming or cheap so far, which bodes well for a difficult game set in a new territory.
The player has quite a bit of freedom in their encounters once allowed to engage with the spell system and the wandering blacksmith, the amount of tools the game gives to the player makes it more accessible.
Speaking of accessibility, it can be disappointing to see Koei Tecmo fall back on some old habits, like the awful mouse and keyboard support the game currently has.
The company is notorious for having little to no support of mouse and keyboard, but Wo Long borders on unplayable, as some commands don’t seem to have been mapped at all, like the main interaction button.
There is currently no keybind menu on the game, and playing with a controller is pretty much obligatory if you’re looking to pick the game up on PC.
This is disappointing to see, because their previous title, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, had a really good control layout and keybind options, so I hope it gets added in the future.
Despite these issues, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a very competent souls-like that can stand on even ground with other titles from the genre, it just needs a little bit of extra polish on its final release.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is set to release on March 3rd, 2023, for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).