Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is a game that I will always cherish. Why do you ask? Fancy apparel — check. Certain cutscenes rendered as a moving classical Chinese painting — check. Giant dragon — check and check.
What’s more is at the heart of Xuan Yuan Sword 7’s story, one can find a simple message: shared kindness drives humanity, and ensures our prosperity. One is able to see how this plays out in various aspects of the story. It is a stark contrast against the ultimately narrow-minded antithesis of its villains that some must be sacrificed in order for the population to flourish.
Remembering the times as a child where I would huddle with my cousins around their PS2, playing Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors was a joy. As my character galloped across the battlefield, there was no doubt that I needed to get the game for myself. So I did, many years later with the release of Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires.
Ancient Chinese culture and stories have always been a part of my childhood growing up watching televised dramas. The luxuriously-made robes and headpieces, mythology, and the one character who was very much there for laughs.
To my delight and surprise, the opportunity to play DOMO Studio’s Xuan Yuan Sword 7 reignited my love of all things ancient Chinese. I started out in a forest hut, following main character Taishi Zhao as he tried to make ends meet for the sake of his sickly sister. In a flashback, his parents entrusted him with a scroll and his newborn sister as their home was under siege from the military.
Back in the present, he is in the possession of the Elysium Scroll — a powerful magical artifact from the grave of Marquis of Liu. As we bade goodbye to one another, Zhao told her to call him in times of need and presented a carved jade whistle.
Hearing the sharp trill echo as I came back from my hunt with the local Lijun military forces had my heart pounding against my ribcage. To cut the long story short, I found out that their motives weren’t as clean cut as a simple hunting job. Without spoiling too much, my sister joins me on my journey to regain her body.
Being made in the Unreal engine, the scenery graphics were crisp and clear. I truly felt as though my feet were touching the soil itself. The NPCs of both sides were interesting. However, the human models were tad stiff, though through research this has been following the series for a while now. This did not take away the feeling of immersion — their voices more than made up for it as voice actors enunciated battle cries, pleas, and speech to craft a unique character.
The game in itself is short by ARPG standards — I clocked around 18 hours, though one would probably need a couple more to unlock the platinum trophy. Battle was smooth, with a basic and special attack (Martial Art), plus the ability to summon two different companions to aid me in battle. Save points were found in the villages’ Stone Shrines and campfires dotted throughout the landscape. The latter is reminiscent of the Dark Souls franchise, where the player can take breaks and also listen to stories — some covered lesser known Chinese myths.
A bigger part of the game involved the crafting and soul system — where you could use items to craft new weapons and armour or feed excess items to soul attachments to level them up. Both you and your companions had access to these, and the swathe of attachments meant that you could change it up to fit your playstyle.
Not being very fluent in Mandarin myself, it was a good chance to do some listening practice as my character and crew set round the campfire. The translations were understandable, though a little rough in certain areas. What really tickled me were the horrendously bad puns and tongue twisters that Taishi Zhao spouted — it kept the mood light, but didn’t overshadow the game’s story.
All in all, I played this game for a week straight and am eagerly looking forward to more titles in the series. This game being their entry into the Western sphere alongside Xuan Yuan Sword 5 for the PS5 is an exciting prospect. Hoping to cross swords in another game very soon!
我为你加油 DOMO Studio！