Developed by DOMO Studios, Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is one of publisher Eastasiasoft’s most ambitious ports to date. It’s out now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – here’s our take on the PlayStation 4 version.
We regularly cover Eastasiasoft’s releases, and many of them are short, sweet and simple – with plenty of indie puzzlers, shooters and platformers you can wrap up in an hour or two. Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is a very different kind of animal though – with a huge sense of scope that both helps and holds back this action RPG.
A good example of that is the game’s story, which is a tale where a lot seems to be going on at any given time. After your kingdom is attacked by an otherworldly force, you’re left to take care of and defend your younger sisters. Another attack, years later, leaves your sister near death, and you travel to another realm to save her soul.
Normally, you’d follow a premise like that by saying something like “setting you off on an epic quest to bring her back”, but in Xuan Yuan Sword 7 there’s a ton of seemingly unrelated stuff going on at any given moment. It’s relevant to the world building, but takes away some of the gravitas of what you think will be the main narrative. Add to that the fact that the quality of the writing is inconsistent (this applies to some side quests in particular) and that there are references to previous Xuan Yuan Sword games that weren’t released in the west, and you’ve got a title that – narratively speaking – can make you feel a little lost.
But as convoluted as the story might feel, the combat in the game is very accessible thanks to simple controls and the fact that the game doesn’t make you learn about new weapons, attacks, combos and techniques all the time. Button mashing your way through enemies with regular attacks and magic is fun, though bosses can provide a frustrating amount of challenge and combining magic spells and attacks isn’t as effective there as it is in regular combat. You can switch between fighting styles as well, which keeps things interesting as you figure out what works best against which types of scenarios.
Character progression works along five different axes and you can use crafting mechanics for this as well, though as a far of regular progression I mostly found myself leaning towards just collecting and buying things. Some rewards also come by way of completing puzzles, though this is definitely an action RPG at heart and should be regarded as such.
With its impressive scope, it’s easy to compare Xuan Yuan Sword 7 to the likes of The Witcher 3 or Dragon Age – though that’s unfair because of a distinct difference in the budget and team size behind these games. Xuan Yuan Sword 7 looks quite impressive in its outdoor locations though, with some gorgeous and varied environments to explore. The interiors don’t fare as well, especially the dungeons.
Xuan Yuan Sword 7 isn’t without its flaws, but at its price point it’s an impressive game that fans of the action RPG genre might want to check out because it’s rare for games of this scope to come out even more rare to see one make its way here from the east.