Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty review: where is the balance?

Nioh’s apprentice, Dark Souls students themselves, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty struggles to take off due to questionable balance and too outdated structure.

“I fired up Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty full game and gave up after a few hours of fighting the first boss. I find it too difficult for nothing”: when I read this tweet posted by ExServ on February 24, 2023, I got scared. Seeing a videographer who specializes in the Dark Souls saga – and its ilk – illuminate the a priori too difficult task of playing Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty does not make you want to try it. I did the exercise though, and if I somehow managed to get past the first boss, I kind of agree with him. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is way too hard.

Worst ? In fact, the challenge bar is not too high. The real problem with Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is the lack of balance. I guess I was more trying my luck against the first boss on my own than against the next ten combined. This indicates an insufficient adjustment of the task proposed by the Team Ninja studio, which, however, has been criticized more than once for the same with two Nioh – students of Dark Souls. My twenty hours in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty will finally feel like huge mountains, between frustration in the face of certain peaks and surprise when the boss bends too easily under my blade.

My heroine in the game // Capture Xbox

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty relies on an outdated framework


Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is available March 3rd on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, and PC.

If you’ve played Nioh or Nioh 2, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty shouldn’t disappoint. Only the context has changed: we are moving from Japan to China during the Three Kingdoms. In short, we are immersed in the context of war, where historical figures and demonic forces are mixed. It is very dark, cruel and bloody – like previous games from the Team Ninja studio. Not only is the art direction fairly conventional, but it’s also not backed by the technical solidity of a PS5 or Xbox Series X-worthy game. Eternize is a pain. And in a game where the requirement takes precedence, screen freezing is harmful.

We would like Team Ninja to develop their formula more boldly.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty goes so far as to mimic Nioh in a very dated structure. A year after Elden Ring, which proved that the Dark Souls formula could thrive in a fully open world, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is content with simple missions and a static hub. Those who were hoping for long walks in Chinese lands might change their minds: the experience is frankly alarmingly lazy for an ambitious game coming out in 2023. Even the very first Dark Souls, released in 2011, offered more freedom to explore than Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. We would like Team Ninja to be more daring in developing their formula, which is already too blocked.

The title still allows you to diversify the fun a bit by offering the option to complete various side quests. To be honest, they are necessary to sufficiently develop his character (whose appearance is personalized at launch) and the equipment he wears (by regenerating resources). In this regard, the possibilities for improvement are quite diverse: not only is the arsenal huge, but, as a bonus, there are five main groups of abilities that best guide your play style. Long: Fallen Dynasty gives you what you pay for.

Wo-Long: Fallen Dynasty // Xbox CaptureOne of the worst bosses in the game. // Capture Xbox.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty forgets about the main thing: about balance

The gameplay of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is quite jittery, in the sense that our character mixes martial arts and traditional weapons. The key to success lies in parrying. When enemies glow red, they are about to make an unblockable move. The idea will be to press a special button at the right time to achieve a particularly effective counter to lower the spirit bar. The only problem? A miss is almost certain death – especially against bosses. This system is both pleasant, permissive and… punitive. Some opponents can indeed send you to the inevitable end of the game if you make a mistake, which discourages many players.

To this mechanism, which requires a good command of timing and obvious risk, is added the concept of courage. Specifically, your hero has a rank that affects the damage he takes and the damage he deals, a rank that can be compared to the rank of others. To increase it, you must achieve mastery in combat, defeat powerful enemies, and capture rally points (which also serve as respawn zones). The higher your moral level, the easier the confrontation will be.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty // Xbox CaptureImpressive boss, but useless. // Xbox screenshot

Also, we advise you to arrive with a high rank (between 20 and 25) before interacting with the boss. A criterion that forces – a little – to explore, to look for areas to control and enemies to kill in order to become more powerful. Of course, your morale will drop to zero at the beginning of each chapter, forcing you to always repeat the same actions until the end credits. On paper, this system is original, but it reinforces the apparent imbalance. Thus, you never know if the task will be too high or, conversely, too low.

Note that your character in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty does not have a stamina bar, allowing him to chain hit without getting tired. It is replaced by a Spirit Gauge that fills negatively if you play too defensively and expectantly. Once full, it puts you in a very bad position and leaves you vulnerable to the slightest attack. A point that also applies to enemies most likely to take a hit.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty // Xbox CaptureThe game has some nice design elements. // Capture Xbox.

As with all Dark Souls-inspired games, dying means losing experience points. In Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, she is divided in half, and then you will need to take revenge on her executioner in order to return everything (indicated on the map by a small orange dot). Team Ninja has also integrated collaboration for up to three members, whether it’s online with other players or with AI-embodied characters (they don’t always help a lot). Finally, there are asynchronous online elements: they consist in revenge for another player who may have fallen in battle on the other side of the world.


After Nioh and Nioh 2, Team Ninja struggles to change his tune. The result is Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, which is too stagnant to be convinced in the face of competition that knows how to evolve from try to try. It’s a pity, because the gameplay is noticeably unnerving.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty suffers primarily from a glaring lack of balance, tying overly difficult bosses with others that are too easy. The studio failed to find a happy medium, resulting in an experience that is as disappointing as it is enjoyable. To make matters worse, the whole structure is too dusty.

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