The first game in this 30 year old series to be released in the West, Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is an action RPG that checks most boxes with expected gameplay elements. It isn’t the best action RPG but it also isn’t the worst.
Although new to the American audience, this series has been known to provide some deep lore and this edition is no exception. The story is detailed but stereotypical. Playing as a warrior with a troubled past and is one of the few that can wield crazy magic powers, the narrative starts to get routine right around the time the dark ninja encased in blue flames appears. One part escort mission and one part vengeance, you play as the confident Asian soldier trying to stop bad guys while protecting your sister. Story-wise, there is a lot happening but that ultimately is its downfall. It takes about two hours for the game to actually begin and for you to start killing things with your sword.
Combat is also expected. You have a light and heavy attack, a dodge button, there is a parry system, a super move that can be activated when conditions are met… it is all here but nothing ever feels very satisfying. Unless playing on the higher difficulties, most encounters can be won through button mashing, not even really needing the special combat moves. All this is explained to the player with the drawn out tutorial too. By the time the leash was removed, I just wanted to start hacking my way through hordes of enemies but most battles are short and scripted. Ghost of Tsushima or God of War this is not. Combat works. It is fine. There is a typical upgrade system. But it isn’t anything spectacular.
This also isn’t a true open world game. There is nothing wrong with this but most paths are small and liner, only deviating slightly for players to find a chest or complete a simple side mission. In a way, I found this tunneled approach a little refreshing when compared to the dozens of massive open world games available on new gen systems. Instead of an artificially filled 50 hour campaign, Xuan Yuan Sword 7 takes a cool dozen hours to complete. In return, there isn’t much unnecessary fluff so players are most always moving toward the next objective. Distractions, like Zhuolu Chess, which is basically a modified version of 9 Men’s Morris, can provide time well spent for those looking for something just a little more.
It is nice that this series has made its way Stateside which provides hope for future installments and even possible ports of previous games. Being based around Chinese lore also feels a little different. There isn’t anything overly wrong with XYS7 as it is a perfectly playable game with an approachable interface, combat system, and runtime. But it also isn’t you have not played before. It is a slightly above average action RPG.
Also available on PS4.
Also Try: Star Fox Adventures
Not As Exciting As: the Trials of Mana remake (PS4/Switch)
Wait For It: the next sequel to come to America