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Reviews

Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains First Impressions

Gaming can feel like opening a mystery box – sometimes you uncover a rare gem, other times it’s just rocks. With the series largely staying on the far side of the Pacific, Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains was like peeking into a box expecting a sparkly trinket but finding a tangled heap instead. The game dangles a thread of promise – a time-hopping tale fusing history with fantasy – yet snarls it in translation woes and erratic gameplay.

The Story: A Tangled Saga

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Imagine a knight from old-timey Europe on a quest touching Venice, the Middle East, and China; it’s the dream pursuit for story buffs. You play Septem, chasing a grand mystery to win wars for his Frankish lords, swinging swords with demons, robot-like as he parrots language lessons amidst war and politics. The story’s ambition is clear, soaring across continents with history as a sail. But that’s where clarity ends.

The plot strays into a thicket. It throws in everything from a devilish romance to power struggles without a map to guide you. Each twist feels like a new direction with no compass. In its native language, I reckon the tale might shine like a sunbeam through leaves, but the English rendition limps and stumbles. It tries to jump hurdles but trips over its own shoelaces.

Translation Troubles

Picture this: you’re deep in a pivotal scene, heartstrings tight, and the knight says something so out of character it feels like a cold bucket of water. The dialogue often mixes wise insights with schoolyard taunts without warning. It’s as if meaningful moments are painted over with comic brush strokes on a whim.

The English script reads like it was put together with refrigerator magnets – sometimes they form basic sentences, oftentimes it’s a nonsensical mix that leaves you scratching your head. Text pops and vanishes before you’ve had the chance to grasp it, leaving you feeling like you’ve missed a step on the stairs.

Gameplay: Peaks and Puzzling Valleys

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Early on, you’ll saunter through battles, but the good times roll to a stop when the game throws a curveball – bosses that feel like running into walls and baffling quirks that play with the fate of your party on a dice roll. I found myself gritting my teeth as unexplained deaths and sudden overpowered hits shattered my progress.

Then there’s this pot – a genie-like bottle where Septem locks up enemies and mixes them up to get new gear. It’s a glinting idea wedged in a dusty corner because the game hardly explains it. Even the lifelines that sustain your heroes – health, spirit, vitality – don’t come with a manual. You learn by tripping and standing up again and again.

Graphics-wise, the game wears its age with pride in places. Pixel art stands defiant against time, character portraits and landscapes can be stunning to look at. But then you’re jolted back by awkward cinematics, like wrinkled photos in a shiny album. Dungeons are yawning stretches of sameness, the high number of fights turning them into a slog rather than an adventure.

Music & Sound: Mild Highs Amidst the Silence

Now, the soundtrack isn’t half bad – it’s the silver lining, really. The tunes travel with Septem, echoing his journey with instruments and styles from across the world. It’s a touch of thoughtfulness in a rough sea. The voices, though, are mostly absent, save the echo of battle cries so crunched they sound like they’re being shouted down a tunnel.

Final Struggles: The Boss and the Bug

Picture standing at the mountain’s peak, ready to bask in your success, only for the game to roll its eyes and crash as the boss turns to stone – supposedly your golden move. That’s what happened to me, and let me tell you, rebooting and replaying the end battle was like being asked to climb that peak again right after tumbling down.

I wanted to love this game, I really did. The old-school charm, the strategic combat – they’re my jam. But Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains makes it tough. It’s like someone’s passed you a note full of secrets, but it’s written in code, and some bits are smudged beyond reading.

I trudged through because I craved the conclusion, sought the story behind the noise. Yet, by the end, I was clamoring for the credits, not out of satisfaction but relief.

What-If

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I’d be amiss not to admit there were moments when the game’s depth tried to pierce the murk – philosophical musings, cultural crossovers, character development that hinted at a richer core. It’s the glimmer of what-if that makes the letdown heavier. What if the dialogue flowed? What if the balance didn’t tip?

If you’re itching for a slice of gaming antiquity or have the patience of a saint, perhaps there’s something here for you. But if your time’s precious and you favor clarity and polish in your RPGs, this path through the mists might lead you off course.

The RPG Quest: Not Every Sword Should Be Drawn

Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains stands as a stark reminder that not every storied weapon should be unsheathed. In its struggle to cross language barriers and time periods, it loses its edge – dulled down by translation and marred by gameplay foibles. Somewhere in this twisted, hazy journey lies the heart of something possibly great, but it’s encased in stone, awaiting a better craftsman to unveil its true form.

About the author

Tom Henry

I worked as a PM in video games, now I'm trying some new things.