The Legend of Sword and Fairy 6 came out in 2015, and as a gamer and a fan of the Wuxia genre, I had very high expectations for this game. For the uninitiated, the hugely successful Chinese Paladin TV series is based on the Sword & Fairy PC game franchise, which has been going on since 1995. The first Chinese Paladin is highly influential, and a rarity in Chinese television since it was adapted from a video game back in 2005! It went on to pave the way for more TV dramas in the Wuxia subgenre known as Xianxia. I was able to pick up a copy to play on PS4, and I wanted to do a complete playthrough and I wanted to love this as a new extension of my favorite genre...but was let down by serious technical difficulties that should have been resolved prior to the game's release.
The game begins with a familiar premise: the two main characters, Yue Jinzhao and Yue Qi, awaken with no recollection of their past. From there, they embark on a journey to discover their true identities, and stop an evil cult from kidnapping people. They befriend a diverse group of friends with complicated backgrounds and go through many twists and turns to discover who they truly are. It's a good story, and you want to keep playing to see their quest through.
Of course, the promise of a good story comes hand in hand with the hope of good gameplay, and, unfortunately, the gameplay is very underwhelming. There are many instances where I could skip attacks from random enemies within proximity just by circling around. Even during boss battles, there is no real struggle as the bosses perform very simple attacks. The most difficult part of the gameplay (by far) was the controller. I played the PlayStation 4 version on the PlayStation 5, but the controls were originally based on a gaming keyboard and mouse, and whoever made this port never properly accounted for a PlayStation 4/5 controller. There are instances where I’m supposed to use the left analog stick to perform actions, and most of the time, it was undoable. When watching the walkthroughs of the PC version on YouTube, the aforementioned action is done easily with a mouse, but on PS4 it's simply not possible.
Besides expecting good gameplay, one would also expect a relatively decent presentation for graphics and sound (this is the sixth game in their series after all, they've definitely worked out the bugs by now, right?). But yet again, they are underwhelming, and leave a lot to be desired. The graphics are reminiscent of a Sega Dreamcast game, and the game sometimes runs at very low frame rates (it feels like 10 fps/frames per second at times). Additionally, there are many instances of characters literally breaking up or freezing randomly. I even had instances where the game itself froze and I had to restart the game. The game is presented in its original Mandarin audio with English subtitles, which I have no objection to since it presents the game authentically, but the script of the English subtitles are sooooo tiny that I had to sit within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of my HDTV, and there are an embarrassing number of spelling and grammar mistakes.
Given all of these bugs, I only finished 66% of the game, which is extremely rare for me given how much I love to throw myself into martial arts games. After a month of trying, I had to give up and accept that I'd been defeated by poor control optimization. Despite this, I still have hope that Sword & Fairy 7 for PlayStation 4/5 will be an improvement. This is only the start of Wuxia (and Xianxia) games being officially released in the West, and I hope that by bringing attention to these games, and providing honest feedback, we can honestly engage with the developers and localization teams, and show them that there's a huge desire for these games in North America if they can improve their ports and translations!
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