I must admit as to losing interest in the RPG genre in recent years. I don’t really have the time to invest dozens and dozens of hours into games these days and RPGs do tend to go on a bit too long for my personal taste. Still, this game came up for review and I thought why not give it a go? Developed by Softstar Entertainment Inc. and DOMO Studio, published by Eastasiasoft Limited comes Xuan-Yuan Sword VII. A game franchise that I know absolutely nothing about. Just from a quick bit of research, it seems this series dates back to 1990, a thirty-one-year pedigree… and I’ve never heard of it until now. Even more so, despite the VII in the title, there are more than seven games released in those three decades. This is just the seventh game in the main series within the franchise, with fourteen titles in total.
The first thing to cover is that Xuan-Yuan Sword VII isn’t a full-on RPG, it’s more of an action-RPG. Yeah, it is still an RPG but there’s a big emphasis on action too that keeps the gameplay moving along. I’d even say it plays more like the Yakuza games in that regard and takes place in a semi-open world environment. You play as Taishi Zhao, a notable swordsman and mercenary who is trying to protect his little sister from warring factions, political upheaval and even plague outbreaks set in the pages of Chinese history and mythology. When Zhao’s sister is mortally wounded, you set out to save her life using magical powers. Oh, there’s quite a bit more to the story than that, I just wanted to cover the bare basics there.
There’s a ton to unwrap when it comes to the story and Xuan-Yuan Sword VII features a lot of cutscenes and very lengthy and sprawling conversations that help to fill in backstories and more. The exposition here would make Hideo Kojima nod his head in respect. The opening few hours of the game are a very lengthy slog before you do see any real action. The combat is fairly easy to understand and use. Light, heavy and special/magic attacks, there’s a dodge and block, then you just lock onto enemies and away you go. It’s a simple but effective combat system that you’ve seen and used dozens of times by now. There’s also a little base building element as you can upgrade your home, which can then be used to improve your weapons, items and more.
There is a lot of traversing through the map… a lot. Despite the world not being the biggest I’ve seen in a game, it’s quite awkward to navigate with the semi-open world lending way to a lot of linear paths that almost become maze-like as you go from one location to another. Thankfully, Xuan-Yuan Sword VII does offer a fast travel system that does help to make navigating the map slightly less annoying. There’s not a huge amount to say about this game, it’s an action-RPG much like every other action-RPG on the market. It may not be my cup of tea, but I can certainly see an appeal here and there is plenty to keep you busy once you get past the very slow opening 2-3 hours. Xuan-Yuan Sword VII is a title that doesn’t do anything fundamentally wrong but it’s also a game that really fails to do anything to stand out either. It’s a perfectly fine game and very playable.
In terms of looks, this is technically a last-gen game that has been given a slight bit of polish and released on the latest consoles. Xuan-Yuan Sword VII looks good and unless you really, really set about looking for issues, you’ll not really find any. the scenery is lush and everything looks authentic, as if they’ve fallen right out of the pages of a Chinese history book. Character models look great and are nicely detailed too.
Xuan-Yuan Sword VII is being sold for around the £43 mark on consoles and that feels too high a price point to me. While I’ll openly admit that the RPG genre is one I’m not all that interested in anymore, I am interested in value for money. Xuan-Yuan Sword VII can be finished in around 20 hours (even with exploring and doing side quests) or less and I don’t think charging £40+ for an RPG that is this relatively short is worth it. That’s almost a full-priced AAA title price range and this title is a smaller/indie game. What is here is enjoyable and if you’re a bigger RPG fan than me, then you’ll most probably get a lot more out of this than I did.