Dark Light

Xuan Yuan Sword is a long-running and well-acclaimed Taiwanese RPG series based on Chinese mythology as well as historic figures and events. Ever since its inception in the early ’90s, the series has seen some major changes over its lifespan. However, what truly makes Xuan-Yuan Sword VII is the fact that this is the first entry in the series to be translated for the western audiences – this explains why this series has been under the radar for so long.

DOMO Studio‘s (Softstar Entertainment) new entry Xuan Yuan Sword VII looked like everything I ever wanted from an RPG set in ancient China. It sure is a show-stunner filled with vicious monsters, flashy sword-fights, and stunning cinematography. At times, it also feels like a mashup of Nioh and The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. Still, you must be thinking “Is this Chinese RPG worth playing?” Well, let me answer that.

An Enchanting Tale of a Brother-Sister Duo

Like its predecessors, the game is set in ancient China. From the get-go, players are put into the shoes of a boy named Taishi Zhao. Things don’t take long to turn into turmoil as the boy along with his infant sister is forced to flee from their manor after having their whole family murdered at the hands of unknown enemy forces. Ten years later, we find that his sister Xiang is sick, and he runs errands in the hopes of curing her. This leads him to deal with escorting troops into a forest after reports of a strange quake.

The group gets ambushed by vicious monsters. Thankfully, with Taishi’s excellent swordsman skills the group prevails. However, things go out of hand when Taishi returns to his hideout and a grim-looking figure attacks his sister. Though the intruder eventually gets killed, Xiang succumbs to his attack. In the hopes of saving his sister, Taishi teleports to another dimension with Xiang’s deceased body to meet the ‘Royal Highness’ of an unknown sacred realm. Through a ritual, both manage to save her soul. However, to restore her body Taishi eventually learns that he’ll have to find a Mohist (Sorcerer of Ancient China). Taishi along with Xiang (in her soul-form) sets out on a journey to set things right for his sister.

From a general outlook, the story is pretty decent. However, it is filled with excruciatingly slow-paced cutscenes and there’s an abundance of them. Though most of them are well-voiced and translated, a significant chunk of these cutscenes suffers from uneven translations and facial animations. On the better side of things, it does deal with the themes of political injustice, loss, love, and determination while taking you across a sprawling map filled with unique towns and unforgiving wilds. In the end, though it’s pretty rough around the edges, the overall experience is fairly decent.

Hack like William, Move Like Geralt

Combat-wise, the game borrows some notable cues from the Nioh. Also, the game’s combat RPG elements, bosses, and special attack animations share a lot in common with the same. Adding to that, as you progress through the campaign, you will unlock different stances that alters your secondary attack. However, the best addition to its combat is the JRPG-like party system where you can be helped by your allies. The bosses in the game can give you a bit of challenge but their move-sets are pretty restricted and highly predictable. In the end, the game’s combat feels serviceable but it brings nothing new to the table and it’s pretty easy as well- you can just spam the melee button and hack your way through.

Now that we’re done with the combat, let’s talk about traversal and exploration which is straight-up Witcher 2. Thankfully you do move faster in this game. You can perform contextual climbs and jumps with a tap of a button. So movement-wise, it feels pretty restricted. But in the end, I did learn to stick with it. However, when the puzzles came rolling in, it took a toll on my patience. From a logistic standpoint, puzzles are pretty easy but the mechanics that go into solving these puzzles are pretty sloppy. In terms of pacing, it is kind of similar to those Robotic Hand puzzles from the Final Fantasy VII remake where you have to move Aerith from one platform to the other. It was straight-up frustrating and so is this.

The better side to all this is the world of Xuan-Yuan and its well-implemented RPG system. There are tons of options to customize your skills and gear, same your for your other party members. It’s pretty standard RPG stuff but works very well. However, the best part is the world is that it is not just beautiful to look at but it is also filled with several side-missions and other activities.

With Great Visuals Come Greater Hurdles

Xuan-Yuan looks really good visually. The devs have put in a lot of effort in making the highly pristine character models. The main-characters look insanely beautiful, but the common NPCs do not stand out that well due to low texture quality of clothing materials. Aside from the characters, the terrains featured in the game look beautiful as well. In terms of lighting, shadows, and texture details (except for a few), everything looks pretty decent and bears a standard of impressive quality.

However, this takes a huge toll on its performance on consoles. On the base PS4, the game struggles to maintain a stable 30 fps. The steam version provides a far superior experience if you have a decent machine. Anything with a GTX 1050 or higher can run the game at 40+ fps with visual fidelity set to low-medium. Though things have improved significantly for the consoles with the latest update patches, there remains a significant amount of room when it comes to optimization the game.

Real Talk

While Xuan-Yuan Sword VII does not contribute to anything new in the RPG genre, it is undeniably a decent game with a decent story and beautiful vistas. It takes notable cues from Nioh and Witcher, even though things remain a little underwhelming in terms of combat and puzzle-solving. Moreover, even after the new updates, its console port struggles to maintain a stable performance. Your best bet is to get this on Steam on a sale or hold off till the performance issues are fixed on PS4.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts