In the last few years, the Xuan Yuan Sword series has impacted a demographic that generally hasn’t given it the time of day; That impact was on the Western side of the world here in the Americas. Originating in the 90s from Taiwanese developer Softstar Entertainment, these games have been successful in the Eastern side of the world, with very few even making it here. I previously enjoyed my time with Xuan Yuan Sword VII and hoped to see what the next game in the series had in store for me!
Game Name: Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Publisher(s): East Asia Soft
Developer(s): Softstar Entertainment
Release Date: December 8th, 2023
Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains starts with your character Septem, known as a Frankish knight, trying not to be confused with some Arabs as Heretics from the Knights of the church as they are focused on removing those they deem as demonic. Septem is headed to the East as he is looking for a special answer to get rid of the war in the country he grew up in. He saves them with the help of a demon from Satan known as Nicole. They team up as they learn more about the role of mythology’s various creatures and demons in this world. Eventually, he even deals with Satan himself to find a way to help out the war efforts.
The sprites and overall visuals in Xuan Yuan Sword Mists Beyond the Mountains look fantastic. I love how the aesthetic looks and the various demons and the forms they take. The animations for water effects, freezing, fire, and electricity all look competent for a game of this scope. I feel that the sprites work much better for me than the normal visuals or face portraits. They have some fun animations and effects that go into the characters’ emotions.
The maps and the variety of environments work well in this game. You get a naval battle, followed by an island, followed by a volcano, and then an iceberg island, all relatively quickly, one after the other. It can be confusing sometimes in the overworld of what an opening to a location is, but that can be due to how well the maps look with the other game elements infused with them. The maps are unique enough that I can remember them pretty well when I need to get told I need to go somewhere in the game, which makes that aspect more friendly.
Combat is sensical, and I love how it utilizes the ATB-type (Active Time Battle) gameplay. Having all the items and spells categorized from attack, assist, and recovery is helpful. There is a lot of variety in different types of NPC sprites and a good variety of characters in general. Also, Nicole’s faces in the game are the absolute best. I also love the relationship that Septem and Nicole share in the game and how it builds throughout the story.
Something made quite apparent in Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains is that the translation could have used a few pass-throughs. Each character has the same personality in their dialect and phrases. There are also lines of text that are confusing and make it hard to understand. Unfortunately, many of these come from the journal entries or tutorial segments early in the game.
More problems that arise from the localization and understanding of the game is the difficulty of figuring out where to go. During the naval battle level in the beginning, it tells you to find someone, I went around the area and couldn’t find anyone. I returned to the beginning and had to talk to a different guy before it let me find the guy I was supposed to find. That doesn’t benefit with how the beginning of the game throws you under the bus and hopes you can find your way around to the locations you need to go. The confusion of how this game works out doesn’t stop with the story or narrative. It also doesn’t explain the mechanics of contracts or fusions very well. It also doesn’t explain the purpose of demons you can capture once you can capture them. It took a lot of trial and error to realize they were just equipment.
The balance of combat is interesting. In the beginning, you get a few stat points at each level, but once you reach level 15, you start to get an exponential amount of stat points, which results in you getting over-leveled way too quickly if you level yourself up by grinding. You don’t require a much bigger boon of experience points per level, and the experience points don’t decay very much for enemies you defeat. It is rather easy to level up, so when you are going around the map trying to figure out where you are supposed to go, you will see many random battles, causing a ton of extra experience points.
Overall, Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond The Mountains was a frustrating but satisfying experience. It was frustrating to figure out but satisfying once I started piecing the story and the characters together. It requires a bit of incentive and focus, but learning about time travel, the way mythology of West and East clashes together, and Septem’s role in the narrative was enjoyable. The Xuan Yuan Sword series seems to focus a lot on mythology and integrating its stories with that as a core. Luckily, it is a small price point, so if you try it out and not enjoy it, it won’t be a big waste of money. That said, it is not a game. I would say you should try it if you get frustrated easily.
Review Disclosure Statement: Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond The Mountains was provided to us by East Asia Soft for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond The Mountains is a fun piece of history that helps us see how games were evolving in the eastern side of the world. It is a great time piece but can easily frustrate modern players.
- Sprites look great
- Animations are fantastic
- Nicole has the best faces
- Story is fun
- A lot of mechanics that helps you customize your character
- Translation is hard to figure out
- Journal entries do not help very much
- Grinding makes combat a breeze
- Difficult to understand what you need to do