By Adele Chapline Smith | OSV News
(OSV News) — The action role-playing game “Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty” (Koei Tecmo) has an interesting lineage. It’s inspired by a classic of Chinese literature, author Luo Guanzhong’s 14th-century historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” Along with elements of fiction and fact, its plot also includes dashes of folklore and mythology.
Despite its august pedigree and potential educational value, however, this is certainly not a title for everyone. Grim showdowns and gruesome visuals make it strictly grown-up fare.
Guanzhong’s tale is set in a turbulent period of his nation’s long chronology. Beginning in AD 184, it records the decline of the Han Dynasty, the division of China into the trio of realms from which both the subsequent era and Guanzhong’s book take their names as well as the country’s eventual reunification just a few years short of a century after his story began.
Within the game, a supernatural problem is added to political difficulties as demons infect the land like a plague. Players take on the persona of a nameless soldier who steps forward to confront this rampaging horde.
The combat in which the warrior engages is based, unsurprisingly, on Chinese martial arts. Thus gameplay emphasizes the need to deflect or parry attacks in order to rebuild stamina.
Character statistics, moreover, are influenced by the five elements or “phases” highlighted in traditional Chinese philosophy: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Since each one of these works best with certain weapons, coordination between statistics and character load-outs is needed to optimize effectiveness.
Like many other games recently marketed, “Wo Long” can be identified with the so-called Soulslike subgenre, named for the “Dark Souls” series published by FromSoftware. Soulslike titles focus on environmental storytelling and usually involve a high level of difficulty. Yet the challenges presented here aren’t really all that daunting, at least for mature players.
Troublesome content within “Wo Long” is restricted to the graphic depiction of warfare and its aftermath. Finishing moves, for instance, may result in enemies being impaled on swords. There are other gory images as well and several scenes include corpses.
Imbued with the fascinating culture of the ancient domain in which it unfolds, “Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty” makes for a rich gaming experience. Though too harsh for kids, the mayhem intermingled with its more appealing ingredients probably won’t prove too formidable for most of their elders.
Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series and Windows.
The game contains strong bloody combat violence and other potentially disturbing sights. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — mature.
Adele Chapline Smith reviews videogames for OSV News.