The number of video games that take place in China is tiny. There are a few in modern China, and there is a handful of games that take place in Ancient China or a fantasy version of China, but it’s not that much. As a fan of this kind of setting myself, this means that every type of release in this genre counts and should be tested. Xuan Yuan Sword 7, published by Eastasiasoft, has recently been released on consoles after being around for PC for about a year now. We tested it on the Xbox Series X and want to share some of our impressions with you today.
Is Xuan Yuan Sword 7 worth it on consoles?
I was kindly provided with test access to play Xuan Yuan Sword 7 on Xbox, so naturally, I went right on the console and downloaded the title. I planned for a bit of downloading time because games nowadays can go up to 100 gigabytes in size. Still, the download finished way quicker than anticipated because the game was only about 10 gigabytes big after all. But what does that mean? Usually, this is an indication of lack of content or lack of fidelity of sorts. Could it be that something is missing?
My concerns were quickly decimated when I started to play Xuan Yuan Sword 7. The graphics were modern, and all of the dialogues were fully voiced (in Chinese, with subtitles). I don’t know how the developers at Softstar and DOMO Studio managed to do that, but I won’t complain. Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is an action RPG that takes place in Ancient China. However, it contains rich mythology and fantasy elements, and I’d not consider it to be historically correct. It feels more like a saga or fairy tale that people might have told their children in Ancient China.
Good and bad
I was afraid that Xuan Yuan Sword 7 would feel rather old-school and would come with empty, dull environments and clunky movement, but this is really not the case. More of my worries were wiped away right after the few first action scenes took place. High framerate, high-performance combat, and low reaction times left no room for complaints. It’s just fun to move around and battle some monsters. The environments you explore are rich and appealing to the eye. There’s nothing dull here.
The game itself focuses on a very linear story and plays a bit like an interactive movie rather than a video game in the year 2021. I’m used to open-world settings and the freedom to explore and do quests as I like usually. This is what I was not too fond of that much about Xuan Yuan Sword 7. The game would keep a focus on the main quest and have you move from one objective to another without (many) sidequests or freedom of choosing what to do next and where to go. There are some interesting novel features they make use of, but in general, the game mechanics feel a bit aged. If you don’t mind this kind of thing and if you’re fine with a game just telling you its captivating story in a grand cinematic way, then this is certainly no issue for you.
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Though something I can not easily forgive is a general lack of character creation and almost no options to customize your character, you have to play as the premade swordsman protagonist, and it’s not that you can’t choose your hero’s gender. You can’t choose anything at all. It might be possible to change the outfit if you get a DLC, or perhaps later in the game, you might find cosmetic items, but it seems like the outfit stays the same no matter what kind of armor you equip.
When equipping different weapons or upgrading them, you can see a difference, but you don’t really have that for armor or clothes. Something else that is lacking is that leveling up feels very unsatisfying. I’m not even sure if it changes stats at all. You are also not gaining any skill points when leveling up that you could invest in a skill tree. Instead, you automatically gain skills as the story progresses.
All in all, I would still recommend playing Xuan Yuan Sword 7 even if it doesn’t offer you all modern game mechanics. Fighting mobs and collecting their souls to fuse them together for new items feels satisfying. The graphics might not be without flaws, but they are still fine and very appealing. It’s still one of the best-looking games that take place in China that I can think of. If this is your sort of preferred setting and lore, then this is something you should not miss out on. The story is undoubtedly interesting and will keep you clinging to the controller for many hours.
In case you’re still unsure, I have recorded the first three hours of gameplay for you and embedded the YouTube video for you below. Since you can’t really do anything but tackle the main story quest, this is sure to contain spoilers, so watch witch care if you don’t want to know what’s happening throughout the early phases of the plot.
YouTube: Let’s Play – Xuan Yuan Sword 7 on Xbox Series X [Gameplay, No Commentary]
Photo credit: All images shown are owned by Eastasiasoft and were provided as part of a press kit.