Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
While having been released on the PC late last year in 2020, Xuan Yuan Sword 7 has now made its way over to the consoles for both the PlayStation (4/5) and the Xbox (XB1/S/X). Set in a fictional ancient China with magic and monsters taking the form of beasts, clockwork machines and humans, our tale doesn’t take long before deviating from the standard notes that it starts on for a rather fun action adventure RPG.
Starting off on two very familiar notes, our protagonist Taishi Zhao (Zixu) has a childhood friend that you help out before heading back home to help your mother out with your baby sister. Attacked by a rival faction, your home is soon burnt to the ground as everyone you love is cut down as you run away with nothing more than the clothes on your back, a present that your friend gave you for your sister and your baby sister herself. Moving forward to his early adult years, Zixu is tackling odd jobs to make money to pay for his sister’s medication as she’s been sick since childhood and can’t really leave their mountain home.
Hitting the basic story notes would have made Xuan Yuan Sword 7 a par for the course story alongside a simple enough action adventure gameplay system. From this point though, the story takes a bit of a fantastical turn with a sprinkle of Fullmetal Alchemist soul binding to kick the adventure to its feet in several ways making you wonder what comes next. I really appreciated this as it doesn’t take long for our dependable older brother to find himself in a mess of sorts alongside his sister who’s now in an automata allowing her to truly move around and not feel sick but at the cost of her being able to feel anything.
The rest that follows is their adventure to get her real body back during the warring states period of ancient China. While technically an on rails story, you do get to see both current sides of the factions as you technically do favours for both as you move forward looking for what you need to bring your sister’s soul back into her body. There are plenty of villages and some towns that you’ll be going through either under military siege, monster siege, or siege of something worse, plagues. None of these places are really happy places to be but they help push the story along as while doing heroic deeds, our protagonist isn’t really the hero per say, they just inadvertently become one as they keep moving forward.
To do so, you’ll be running around this world, a lot. If there was perhaps one real complaint that I had with Xuan Yuan Sword 7 it’s that there’s technically no running ability. You can “run” but it’s normal paced and everything can be a bit far at times especially with the magical quick travel points spread out offering you instead campfires to rest and save your game in between. This can get a bit in the way of getting to what needs to be gotten to either for the main quest or for side quests as everything tends to be far enough from the quick travel points making you groan just a bit that you have to run all of that way for the third or fourth time for the same side quest.
From here you’ll be running into a variety of enemies from normal humans to the more supernatural kinds. Combat, while never really getting complicated, is a mix of standard attacks and a heavy attack based off of the current set of talents that you have selected. Ox, wolf, bear and tiger are martial art forms that you can over time learn abilities to vary your attack patterns a bit but it’s nothing ground or game breaking as it never goes more than skin deep which I found a bit disappointing as you get to see Zixu’s martial arts in cutscenes but never get to reach that depth.
While decent in the beginning as you learn the groundwork, combat even with the martial art moves that you can learn as a third attack type, it can start to feel a bit stale after a while as there’s nothing really new that is ever added short of some new enemy types. Even then, most enemies can be brought down with a good dodge or parry attack allowing you to easily turn the tables.
If I were to add a second major complaint to the overall experience it would be that two or three bosses were made rather unfair as even with a good hang of the combat system and upgraded gear, they can kill you so fast and with them being story related you’ll have to find a way to cheese them out even if that means taking five to ten minutes in which most of it is dodging around while your companions deal enough damage in between you using healing items.
Otherwise, Xuan Yuan Sword 7 can clock in anywhere between ten to twenty hours depending on how much or how little you want to do outside of the main story and how much of a gamerscore / platinum trophy you really want attached to your gamer tags. It’s not a hard title to go through and rake in the achievements as most of it is story based but there are a few that may need a bit more if you want to claim to have done them yourself.
So overall while Xuan Yuan Sword 7 doesn’t really do anything new mechanically, it’s still enough of a solidly built title especially if you’ve been needing a break from the open worlds that have been all the rage of late. With a duration of a dozen plus hours, the world looked great on the Series X and there’s enough bad dad jokes from Zixu to his sister to make you either laugh or groan while they explore the lands to get her real body back.Score: 7.25 / 10