Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 Review

Review: Xuan Yuan Sword 7 (Nintendo Switch)

Ancient philosophy, now on the go.

8 mins read

It is genuinely impressive that Xuan-Yuan Sword VII has come to the Switch. This is one of the more technically detailed games to have come out of Taiwan, and concessions did need to be made to make it work on the Switch. If all that matters to you is the technical fidelity, then it would be difficult to recommend the Switch port. However, everything else about the game is captured perfectly. It looks gorgeous thanks to the art direction. The action is fluid and dynamic. And it’s an excellent example of Chinese storytelling that we still don’t see that often (particularly this well localised, thanks to the work of eastasiasoft.

Related reading: This is actually the second Xuan-Yuan game on Nintendo Switch. There’s also a port of one of the old classics of the series. Our review.

This is a game that I enjoy more each time I play it. It was released for the first time in fairly broken English on the PlayStation 4 in 2020. Then eastasiasoft ran their localisation eyes over it, and a vastly improved script accompanied the proper 2021 global release on the same console. Now, three years later, it makes its way to the Switch.

The basic plot is that of a brother and his little sister going on a journey to try and save her. In the early moments of the game, she’s critically wounded in a battle between soldiers and monsters, but an “entombed God” promises to revive her, but they have to help him escape his prison first, and that sends them on a journey to find the Mohists.

Mohism isn’t that well known in the west, but it was one of the earliest philosophical thought models in Chinese culture, from around 2,000 years ago. The script isn’t subtle about these references – it outright names them. I wasn’t familiar with the school of thought until being exposed to it through this game myself, and it has since been interesting going and learning more afterwards.

As I wrote in my review of the game on PlayStation 4:

“And so when we set out on a quest to find a society of reclusive Mohists to save our mortally wounded sister at the start of Xuan-Yuan Sword VII, the game is speaking, in many ways, to the very foundations of Chinese identity. Yes, some of the cut scenes are a bit stilted (early on the game tries to “sell” a major battle between humans and monsters and lands spectacularly flat on its face), but the underlying ideas and purpose of this journey are richly realised and an excellent introduction to Mohist thinking. For instance, within the game, the villains and corrupt are aligned with the Mohist’s understanding of villainy and corruption, and all of this is quite refreshing. So often with video games the idea of villainy comes from western thought. That’s true even with Japanese games, given that Japanese thinking is, these days, more closely alligned with western thought. Taiwan, however, is a stridently different culture for various social and political reasons, and so this Taiwanese RPG, while travelling over the same broad structure of an RPG or JRPG, is refreshing – and intriguingly – its own, different, thing.

Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 PS4 Review

“Naturally, I recommend that you go and actually play the game first, but after that, there’s a worthwhile summary of Mohist philosophy here that will help you understand what the game is driving at at a deeper level. I freely admit that I’m no scholar of Mohism. This was all new to me the first time I played Xuan-Yuan Sword VII and if I’m being honest, as much as I was interested subsequently, I just haven’t had the time for learning much more about it. I will, though, now that I’m aware of it, and I’m quite certain that a lot of people will be in my position. While I’m drumming a familiar beat here, I do like it when games have an inherent quality that makes you want to learn something new and valuable. Xuan-Yuan Sword VII can act as a catalyst there.

“As a game, I really admire what the developers have done with Xuan-Yuan Sword VII. Though they were clearly working on a lower budget than the blockbusters, rather than be too ambitious they focused on flow, aesthetics, and refinement, and Xuan-Yuan Sword VII delivers all of that. The game is intensely linear, being broken up into corridor-style environments that end in either towns or dungeons, with another corridor-style funnel to the next region coming thereafter. There is a dearth of side-quests, or reasons to go back to areas previously explored, so Xuan-Yuan VII is a neat experience that avoids wasting player’s time (with the exception of a “Chess” mini-game that is all kinds of compelling in its own right).”

In short, it’s a clean, elegant, and reasonably brief (at around 20 hours) journey through vibrant landscapes, towns, and places of antiquity. It’s not perfect – the combat system is a little simple and it can take a while to understand how the “capture” and upgrade systems work – but it is enjoyable and, backed by that script, a different experience to a lot of what we’re used to in the genre.

Xuan-Yuan Sword 7 Review

Aside from the drop in technical fidelity, the Switch port of Xuan-Yuan 7 doesn’t miss a beat, and it’s actually one of the more impressive action RPGs on the console. I do hold out hope that eastasiasoft and Softstar can achieve a similar miracle with Sword & Fairy Together Forever, because that’s on another level entirely and is genuinely one of the finest releases this generation, but having Xuan Yuan VII on the Switch is a big box ticked.

Matt S. is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DDNet. He's been writing about games for over 20 years, including a book, but is perhaps best-known for being the high priest of the Church of Hatsune Miku.

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