When I think of the great RPGs of modern gaming, I’m spoilt for choice. Whether it’s an overpowering story, sprawling environment, mystical beasts, or fantastic characters, there is something for everyone. I’m thinking of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Witcher 3: The Hunt, and NieR Replicant. There are lots more, but these were games that blew my mind. This got me to think about the major RPG series that we never experience in the West! Are we missing out, or will the cultural differences undermine the core concepts? Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 is the latest instalment in a multi-platform spanning franchise and the first to make it onto Western shores.
Developed by Softstar and DOMS Studio and published by Eastasiasoft Limited, this is a sprawling Chinese mythology-inspired RPG. It’s a standalone title from the rest of the series and fortunately, no prior knowledge is required to dive right in. Many of its high-quality elements reminded me of the aforementioned RPGs, so I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 blends mythology and folklore perfectly.
I’m no mythology aficionado, but I grasp the simple concepts. Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 allows its players to experience a wonderfully vast world filled with magical tales, gargantuan beasts, and logic-based puzzles. You visit bustling towns and villages while on your quest to release a Demi-God and save your sister.
The plot takes many twists and turns, but its core concept revolves around a bond between the two lead characters. A pair of siblings who must support one another after a betrayal destroys their childhood and family. You control Taishi Zhao, a highly skilled hunter who will do anything to protect his younger sister.
Their basic but cosy life is turned upside down when a shadow beast mortally wounds Taishi’s sister. Using the mystical power of the Elysium Rift, Taishi strikes a deal with a Demi-God to free him in return for his sister’s life. This agreement is thwarted with dangers and could have dire consequences. This is where Taishi’s story begins and the blend of Chinese mythology and folklore comes to the fore.
So many fantastic elements.
Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 captures so many wonderful elements from other RPGs while still maintaining its unique style. The beautiful relationship between the siblings is ever-present and creates a sense of fear, pride, and urgency in every fight scene. It reminded me of the caring bond between the lead protagonists in A Plague Tale: Innocence. Moreover, this captures the excellent logic-based and environmental puzzles that you must overcome. These challenging events block your progress and require patience and planning to succeed.
While the central plot revolves around emotions and puzzles, the game allows you to lose yourself in a stunning sprawling world. Borrowing ideas from both Witcher 3: The Hunt and NieR Replicant, you’ll explore a vast mystical world full of mysteries and treasures. The awe-inspiring landscapes require you to leap gaps, climb cliff sides, and traverse many obstacles. You’ll squeeze through gaps, crawl through caves, and explore incredible dungeons.
I was amazed at how quickly I was sucked into this magical world. The people and story demand that you travel that bit further and kill that extra monster. And, though the missions lack difficulty, you’ll need to plan your approach, equip the right gear, and be strong enough to compete.
Standard RPG progression.
Though much of Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 is unique, it also shares many familiar and tried and tested mechanics along the way. Subsequently, this is a very comfortable experience for veterans of the genre. However, this doesn’t mean new players will have a rough ride. No, a constant tutorial explains new mechanics, ensuring you are familiar with new skills and abilities.
Taishi gains XP through successful quests, killing monsters, and completing other tasks. This levels him up and opens up new martial art skills in a talent tree. Each one offers a new stance that has strengths and weaknesses. You must decide which to use and this gives you the chance to fight as you choose.
Alongside this, you will build and improve workshops that can be used to upgrade your equipment, make accessories, add souls to your gear, and so forth. You can also select new weapons that can be traded or looted on your adventures.
None of this will shock veteran gamers, but its familiarity is pleasant. However, what stood out for me was the ability to use companions as a battle aide. Using their explosive martial arts skills can turn the tide of any battle in your favour.
Xuan-Yuan Sword 7’s large map is no problem to traverse.
I love the idea of vast maps to explore, in theory, but in reality, they are a time-consuming beast that becomes arduous over time. Luckily, Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 utilises ‘Guard Stones’ to enable quick travel and an easy way to move around the map. Alongside this, convenient campfires and shrines allow you to heal and save on the fly. The developers have made it enjoyable to explore without the risk of losing too much progress, and I applaud them for this.
Like Witcher 3: The Hunt, the game isn’t just about murder and exploration. You are encouraged to take time to play Zhulou Chess. This ancient board game borrows mechanics from Chess, Draughts, and Othello. It has no bearing on the outcome of the game, but it’s an exceptional waste of time that is competitively addictive at the same time.
Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 is incredible to look at.
When a game is this vast and grand, you expect it to have incredible graphics and triple-A rated cinematics. Fortunately, Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 doesn’t disappoint, mainly! It has been brilliantly enhanced for the Xbox Series X and the surrounding world is utterly incredible. The player’s movement is smooth and the scenery will capture your attention. However, for all its amazing qualities, there are minor glitches, some cutscenes are poorly constructed, and the movement of hair and other finer details are off. I am being very particular, as the majority of the action is phenomenal.
The high quality continues with the authentic audio. The excellent traditional soundtrack gives way to some hard-hitting songs that deliver high adrenaline moments. The excellent sound effects add realism and depth to the sprawling world and the noises of your enemies enhance the mystical theme. All the dialogue is spoken in Mandarin and accurate subtitles help to convey the story. This was an excellent choice as English dubbed speech would have reduced the authenticity.
Plenty to learn, but smooth controls.
As you pull up the controller layout, your heart will sink. It looks complex as hell and not user-friendly at all. Fortunately, however, the thorough tutorial reduces the difficulty considerably. You’ll love the hack ‘n slash combat, the use of magical skills, and the ability to call upon your companion. The responsive controls make the combat thoroughly enjoyable, and I adored slicing through my foes at every opportunity.
Thanks to its large world, and engrossing story, you’ll play it for hours. It’s easy to lose yourself in this wonderful title and fans will keep returning for more. Its large achievement list requires some effort, so completionists won’t have an easy ride.
Xuan-Yuan Sword 7: an excellent addition to the genre.
I have no clue how this latest instalment compares to the rest, but I know it’s fantastic. Lovers of RPGs have a new and wonderful game to experience thanks to its lore, excellent settings, and brilliant mechanics. I can’t enough of it and recommend you to buy it here! Making a deal with a Demi-God is tricky business! Yet a promise made is a promise kept! Fight the monsters, release the king, and save your sister.