Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Is A “Soulslike” Experience You Crave | Review

I’ll be upfront, I’m not a “soulslike” fan and was skeptical of playing Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, but I did and I wasn’t too disappointed.

Wo Long initially caught my interest because of its aesthetic of telling a Chinese lore about the Han Dynasty. It looks beautiful and does a solid job of intertwining the gameplay with storytelling of the lore, but has some struggles. The game breaks down into segments which creates a clunky way of telling a coherent overall story. Characters are more (or less) introduced simply to provide a new combat situation and vanish when their objective is done. Because of this, it never felt like it had any real “heart” to the story, and left me scratching my head about my general purpose (the gist is a standard power struggle between two kingdoms).

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Developed By: Team Ninja
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X | S, PC
Genre: Action
Release Date: March 3,  2023

That being said, the game makes up for it with gameplay, because you get so focused on the curveball thrown at you in terms of difficulty. The game starts off quickly explaining all the different systems in place for combat and game mechanics. With each explanation you gradually move up the enemy tree and utilize the new perks, but within the first chapter you’re struggling against your first major boss.

The game basically boils down to a stamina system that needs to be utilized carefully in order to advance. With this system, attacks and blocks take away from your “Spirit Meter,” and draining it too far will leave you out to dry. It takes some getting used to because instead of blocking and dodging attacks you are encouraged to parry instead. Doing so doesn’t drain your Spirit Meter, and sometimes even builds it up. As you progress, the enemies get harder with stronger attacks and different patterns to pay attention to.

This was the strongest turn off personally. I like heavy action-oriented games and when things get crazy, Wo Long is pretty fun. However, a majority of the stress points in Wo Long come when combat slows down, requiring more strategy (and luck). You need excellent timing to parry attacks, and missing this timing leads to severe blows that wipe you out pretty fast. Being tied up in a long battle just to be wrecked by one timing mistake is pretty damn annoying.

But that’s what Team Ninja has been perfecting over several games now, and they’ve finally created a “Souls-like” experience fans can enjoy. I can’t really knock the game for being exactly what you expect, and instead I have to give it credit for putting a twist on combat and providing a near perfect experience in that area.

The game does a great job of offering variations in enemy patterns, so you can get faked out pretty easily, but this lends to giving you a feeling of accomplishment when getting through difficult areas. Adding on to the typical strategic combat is again the Spirit Meter which grows in depth the further you get into the game. Enemies have weaknesses which allows you to enchant your weapons for bigger damage. Along with this perk you can also choose to spend spirit energy for powerful attacks, which leads to a risk/reward style system. When you lose a battle you can look back and see what worked, what didn’t, and how to approach it differently.

It’s all these systems which made me enjoy the game more than a typical “Souls-like” title, because I never felt that I was cheated out of losing. In these types of games I typically hit a wall and it becomes a grind to even have a chance—or I have to restart a good portion of the game, and it sucks. With Wo Long, if you get beat in battle you can examine why you lost and totally change your approach to see if you gain any progress. Then if you are still struggling you can test weaknesses and spirit attacks to see if you get an edge. It allows the game to be challenging, but not so challenging you just walk away the second you lose a few battles.

Morale victories?

One thing I found odd is the Morale System the game utilizes. The Morale tiers work by restarting you to zero at the beginning of each chapter. By utilizing special moves and taking out enemies, along with finding flags, you move up the morale tiers.

On one hand it is interesting because every level resets the Morale meter, so you start with the basic enemies and slowly move up. So instead of an overall game ramp up where you’re stuck facing tough enemies for the later half of the game, you basically build up every chapter and slowly get eased into the tougher battles. It’s a neat system overall because you could, in theory, finish a chapter then take a break, and when you come back you don’t need to remember every little detail to fight insane enemies.

On the other hand it is an easy way to extend the length of the game in a simplistic way. Enemies with higher Morale deal more damage and are stronger than you, which means you can’t speed run your way to the boss battles and ignore the lower tier enemies. Instead you are basically forced into battling your way up the ladder. In some instances it just feels like an easy way to extend the game’s play time. Basically you could challenge yourself and skip a few lower tier enemies to fight higher tier ones early, but overall it’s used as a way to grind each chapter so you’re prepared to fight tougher enemies.

The games weaknesses is the simplicity

Wo Long has a very extensive back-end strategy built in, with multiple systems working all alongside each other beautifully. What Wo Long lacks is when it needs variety at the face of these systems. For example the loot system doesn’t feel very in-depth and instead boils down to basically an add/subtract system that I’m sure more advanced players would appreciate, but for me it was basically gearing all my stats towards specific goals with no real negative effect.

Another problem I had is that while you are learning the game’s core mechanics it’s very fun to learn about the enemies and seeing their variations in combat. By mid-game, however, it feels like old news. There is a variety in combat, but not so much in enemies who approach you. So really the game boils down to figuring out what type of fight you got yourself in, and remembering the best formula to get out of said fight.


Wo Long is potentially the best entry level game for anyone interested in “Souls-like” titles. It throws a tremendous difficulty curve early on, but once you achieve victory, the game opens up some of the more intricate systems that allow you to craft a thrilling adventure. You are met with a sense of victory after every chapter, and the “reset” approach allows you to take the foot off the gas before diving head first into more intense enemies.


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wo-long-fallen-dynasty-is-a-soulslike-experience-you-crave-reviewTeam Ninja has something great going on with a thrilling adventure that makes you feel awesome. The demo does a great job of showcasing a lot of the strength Wo Long has to offer, along with potentially the biggest difficulty spike in the game. The full game just heightens this experience, and is pretty fun to play with friends.