Published by Eastasiasoft and developed by Taiwanese studios DOMO Studio and SOFTSTAR, ‘Xuan-Yuan Sword 7’ is an RPG game and the latest game in the Xuan-Yuan Sword series, that has actually been around since 1990. In its 31 year-long history, the original game ‘Xuan-Yuan Sword’ has received six sequels, as well as several spinoff games, and are all set in different periods of ancient China, incorporating elements of its rich history and mythologies. The series has been highly successful across Asia, but unfortunately, its availability outside of that region has been very limited. Thankfully ‘Xuan-Yuan Sword 7’ has officially been released worldwide, first on PC in 2020 and now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Players will take control of Taishi Zhao and the story begins just at the end of the Western Han Dynasty. While still a young boy, his family were tragically murdered during a raid but manages to escape with his baby sister Xiang. Ten years pass with Zhao having raised Xiang all on his own, but unfortunately, she has been ill. A group of soldiers arrive at their home to recruit Zhao with the promise of helping his sister return to full health and allowing them to have the peaceful lives they’ve always wanted.
The whole game will see Zhao traversing across war-torn lands, encountering various enemies and monsters based on and inspired by Chinese mythology. At first glance, the game might look similar to games like ‘Ghost of Tsushima’ and ‘Dynasty Warriors’, but not long after will feel more like ‘The Witcher’ with a bit of ‘Dark Souls’.
The combat flows quite nicely and the action looks incredible on-screen, especially with all the Kung Fu moves making it feel very much like you’re in a Chinese martial arts fantasy film, a genre that is one of the pioneers of Asian cinema. Various upgrades will become available as players progress through the game, adding more stylish moves and abilities to their repertoire and take down their foes.
There are various monsters Zhao will have to battle in his journey. When it may start to feel repetitive seeing the same enemies over and over, at a certain point in the game new enemies will appear for Zhao to encounter, providing new challenges and helping the game feel fresh again. This really helps with the pacing of the overall adventure.
The game’s soundtrack of course has a nice mix of traditional Chinese folk music for the more somber scenes and deep orchestral sounds for the epic battles. The visuals overall are stunning and create some beautiful scenes, especially in all the cutscenes, which clearly draw inspiration from classic Chinese drama movies.
Aside from the gameplay, the plot and cutscenes are definitely one of the game’s greatest features and really help the story be more than just the cliche protagonist saving his little sister. There are moments of tragedy, romance, comedy, and politics with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Instead of it feeling like a single movie focusing on the main plot, it actually feels more like a whole drama series with plenty of side stories in all the side missions and without losing focus on the main narrative. This will surely appeal to fans of classic Chinese dramas. The dialogue is spoken entirely in Mandarin but includes subtitles in English and other select languages.
The visuals and presentation are definitely breathtaking from afar, but not quite as impressive up close. Some of the environments look a bit polygonal and outdated, with character faces having that porcelain look and lack some facial expressions, which is most noticeable in the cutscenes. Even though the graphics sometimes feel they’re from the PS2/Xbox 360 era, they actually don’t take anything away from the incredibly well acted out cutscenes and everything else the game has to offer more than makes up for it.
Even though this is the seventh main game in the series, thankfully players won’t have to worry about playing all the previous games that have come out since 1990 as each game has its own unique story with its own unique characters and adventures. Much like the ‘Final Fantasy’ series, each game is not a sequel to each other and stands out on their own. While players don’t necessarily have to play all the previous games to enjoy the latest installment, they may feel the urge to seek them out after completing ‘Xuan-Yuan Sword 7’ to experience more of the Chinese fantasy story-driven games by the lesser-known Taiwanese studio.
Now that a ‘Xuan-Yuan Sword’ game is more accessible to the rest of the world, this will give this not so familiar series a chance to shine. Fans of epic Kung Fu, fantasy, drama films filled with plenty of story and action will find plenty to enjoy ‘Xuan-Yuan Sword 7’ which includes all of that and more. Players outside of Asia now have the opportunity to appreciate this 31-year-old hidden gem.
- 31-year-old hidden gem
- Feels like a Chinese Kung Fu, fantasy, drama film
- Stunning visuals and presentation
- Well written story with engaging characters
- Fun action gameplay with big Kung Fu influences
- Some graphics don’t look as impressive and feel outdated up close