Team Ninja was one of the few teams to take the soulful formula in their own direction, beautifully combining FromSoftware’s landmark design with their own brand of action. It worked out great for both of them Nioh Team Ninja has taken the same approach Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Although there is an undeniable overlap between the two, Wo Long is more than a new skin Nioh game, as its focus on parries shows that the studio is an all-round master of the blade.
That central parry mechanic is the biggest difference between the two and that one Wo Long so special Rather than being a risky option meant to be used only sparingly like many other titles, Wo Longcombat revolves around fending off incoming attacks.
timing window, Thanks for the demo feedback, is surprisingly generous, but still requires skill to constantly advance, as attack speeds vary. Some have to be flipped quickly, but the game intelligently has plenty of moves that punish those who parry in panic. This is most evident in its blockable Critical Blows, which force players to play patiently and learn timing. It’s incredibly responsive, as Team Ninja games tend to be, with a loud and clear sound effect combined with learning the right rhythm Wo LongThe translation system is strong enough to last the whole game.
Translation is hugely rewarding in itself, but it also plays an important role in other aspects of the game. Instead of an endurance bar Wo Long it has a two-sided meter that rises when players land attacks and parry and fall when taking damage and using heavy attacks, special moves, or magic.
While it may seem restrictive to tie so much to one resource, it instead streamlines everything and begins to open up when it’s clear that a constant measure of spending and saving is the key to success. By tying it directly into offensive and defensive gameplay, it’s designed to make players more active and versatile, and it’s never unfair because the enemies mostly play by the same rules as well. It’s all beautifully woven together and while there are echoes of games like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Niohit is unique and good enough to stand out.
Its moral system is also quite different. Each character has their own stage-specific power level that increases with kills – even the best-performing enemies get a little boost. Dying resets Morale and means players have to start over after taking one too many blades to the face. However, this layer can be raised by placing flags in certain places.
These systems encourage users to engage with enemies and thoroughly search areas to plant flags, as finding them all makes it impossible to drop below the highest enemy rank. Team Ninja also uses these levels to indicate where to go, as seeing enemies with obscenely high morale means there’s a better route elsewhere. Grinding after an untimely death can be frustrating at times, but it forces players to explore its stages and evolve to succeed, while providing a generous enough safety net with the ticket system.
As morale increases with each battle, a skilled player can snowball and become a near-unstoppable powerhouse, highlighting how easy it is to Wo Long can be sometimes. A big part of this comes through in how the game requires you to spawn an AI buddy or two for almost every main mission. These characters are powerful soldiers and, most importantly, can distract enemies long enough for players to get in a few cheap shots. While it’s acceptable in moderation or through consumables, its over-reliance on companions takes away from rewarding combat as it removes the need to research every intricacies and formula as battles become much easier with brute force.
Bosses are not immune to this and are the biggest victim of this neglect. Many of them are incredibly well designed and have lots of unique attack patterns, but almost always another character or two means they’re artificially more forgiving. Many can easily be killed on the first or second try, which isn’t nearly as satisfying as winning through sheer determination and hard work. Taking down a boss doesn’t always feel earned, and that feeling has been very important to Team Ninja’s games. It’s disappointing that the otherwise carefully designed bosses aren’t better tests of the precise mechanics.
However, even a few of the climactic duels are on the easier side and show how uneven Wo Longthe difficulty may be. There’s only one really impressive, well-optimized battle that requires players to learn and adapt to, but it’s mid-game, and it’s limited by a series of large battles that range from painless to somewhat difficult. It’s not a steady climb, and while even the least attractive bosses are better than the best bosses in most games, the way many are tuned means they don’t realize their full potential. Wo Long is no cakewalk as even brain dead grunts can still be deadly and every fight requires basic skill and brainpower but isn’t as finely tuned as it should be.
Some of these flaws may be surprising, as they are similar to the studio’s other games. Wo Long is still an overly serious and poorly told story with a shallow protagonist, overstuffed gear, and art direction that outside of the monster design is rarely more than competent, which is mostly true of both Nioh and Ninja Gaiden games (although the latter did not have a gear system). Team Ninja’s combat booths are still some of the best in the industry, and that’s no small feat, but it would be great if the developer could start branching out and taking their deep mechanics skills in a slightly newer direction.
Despite the minor inconsistencies Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is not a Chinese palette swap Nioh. Both may be third-person melee action games set in Asian countries and may have pseudo-historical, mythological backgrounds, but Wo Long carves its own path thanks to its clear and rich combat system. Parrying is always satisfying, and many of the game’s new systems build around this rock-solid foundation. And while not quite the sharpest sword Team Ninja has created, it’s still as deadly as ever.
Like Coming Soon review policy explains, a score of 8.5 equals “Excellent”. Although there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds in its goal and leaves a lasting impression.
Disclosure: We were provided a PlayStation 5 copy by the publisher Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Review. Revised in version 1.002.000.