With Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, developer Team Ninja felt as if it was being tricked. The action game studio has moved into the Soulslike genre with the Nioh games. In Wo Long, Team Ninja once again borrows some of the background from the acclaimed series from From Software, but takes a quicker, more Ninja Gaiden-like approach. It’s some of the same ideas but with a different feel that will challenge action game fans in a variety of ways.
GameSpot got an early look at Wo Long’s playable demo on PlayStation 5, providing a snapshot of the game’s combat systems. A lot of the background will be familiar to fans of Soulslike – enemies that attack hard and are hard to kill, often with unblockable or continuous animations. Whenever you stop to rest at a checkpoint, enemies respawn, forcing you to fight them again. Healing is limited to a small set of potions you carry, and using them takes a very long time, leaving you vulnerable to attack. Most battles rely on analyzing or memorizing your opponent’s attack patterns so you can exploit their weaknesses and avoid taking a massive amount of damage.
But as mentioned, Wo Long has a much quicker and more aggressive approach to that platform than most other Soulslike games, making it best comparable to something like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Wo Long focuses on Chinese martial arts, and so much of its gameplay is about lightning attacks and redirecting the opponent’s forces. However, its biggest tweak compared to similar games is that it reduces the usual stamina stat that indicates how many moves you can make before stopping.
Instead, Wo Long uses a “spirit” gauge, which shows how much you can block or dodge, as well as special abilities, like martial arts or magical “witch” attacks. However, the mental measure is less restrictive than it is a gamble. The gauge starts at zero in the center, with a negative and positive side. When you damage, parry, dodge, or use your special ability, you’ll “lose” sanity, so the gauge will push into the negative. If your gauge fills up on the negative side, a hit from an enemy will stagger you, leaving you vulnerable for a long time.