Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Mature action game uses Chinese mythology to great effect.
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Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a downloadable single-player/multiplayer action RPG (role-playing game) currently available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows-based PCs. Players will create a character and fight for their homeland of China, which is deeply embedded in the dynastic power struggle of the Three Kingdoms era. But a new threat proves to be anything but ordinary, and a former nobody must do whatever it takes to save China from the evil corruption that's spreading through its lands. The game's setting is based on a real-life historical conflict in China's history, focusing on many of the era's most prominent generals and other historical figures (regardless of the fictionalization of the conflict via the game's supernatural elements and many allusions to Chinese mythology through some of the enemy designs). This is an incredibly violent game as players will use swords, crossbows, blunt weapons, and other deadly tools to batter and slay the hordes of enemies that stand between them and China's liberation. Enemies will often be stabbed through their torsos, causing a shower of blood. Unfortunately, role models and positive messages are few and far between. It may take players some time to find their momentum within the game as its opening hours throw a lot of controls and mechanics at the player at once, leaving them to figure things out on their own. While not an easy game, it's one that rewards patience and precision if players are willing to invest their time and effort.
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What’s It About?
In WO LONG: FALLEN DYNASTY, chaos has erupted across China during the era of the Three Kingdoms. On top of all the various factions trying to establish themselves as China's glorious future, something darker and more nefarious lurks beneath the surface. As unprecedented violence, bloodshed, and acts of depravity threaten to break China at its foundation, nobody even sees them coming until it's too late. The undead. Sorcerers. Demons. Suddenly, long-established enemies and distant friends must unite to take on this new menace, or there won't be a China to fight for. You're a nameless soldier just trying to stay alive, but now, you seem to be the only person capable of mending old wounds between factions and mobilizing against the surging infestation. Your people need you now more than ever. So, pick up your sword and get to work. Show them that sometimes heroes come from the most unlikely of places.
Is It Any Good?
There certainly isn't a lack of games that have been inspired, to some extent, by the Dark Souls series. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, while treading some familiar ground, creates a unique experience that it owns from start to finish. Unsatisfied with being "yet another Souls-like," Wo Long uses its strong cultural identity and deflection mechanic to separate itself from the pack. There's an ever-present tension throughout, as any one enemy could spell disaster for players who get too comfortable or let their guard down. Attack patterns could quickly shift, and since most enemies have a "Fatal Strike" move – which cuts a significant amount of a player's health if they're struck by one – they could easily overwhelm an overconfident player. To address this, players have many options available to them. While close-range combat is most effective, arrows, magic, and other tricks work just as well if you're careful with how they're used. You could also (eventually) summon a friend to help if you're struggling with one area or enemy.
The plot takes a clear backseat to gameplay here, which works in the game's favor. While it would've been nice if the characters had been expanded and given more to do within the story, it's hard to argue with the satisfying end result. Deflecting attacks is a must, and there are few engagements where you'll go without a well-timed parry. It's so important, in fact, that it may be off-putting for players who enjoy more close-range variety or nuance. But when you can read an enemy's motions and attacks and deflect with a mastery that took hours to perfect, the game becomes an absolute blast. If you can give Wo Long time to get going, you won't be let down. It's not the most technically impressive showcase, and flies short of greatness by inches. But Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty succeeds where it counts, delivering an experience that isn't painfully hard while providing enough variation in its gameplay to make it endlessly entertaining.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about cultural representation in video games. How many games can you think of that feature different cultural settings/characters? How have those games impacted you personally, and what would you like to see in terms of unique settings and traditions depicted within a game?
What's the best way for a game to exist within a certain genre without being seen as a "ripoff" of a game that may be similar to it? What elements can help make a game more distinguishable? Which games are entirely too close to one that may have inspired it?
- Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Pricing structure: Paid ($59.99)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Koei Tecmo
- Release date: March 3, 2023
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, History, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: M for Violence, Blood & Gore
- Last updated: March 2, 2023
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