Review RPG

Xuan Yuan Sword 7 – Review | Buy It on Switch Or…?

Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is the latest entry of a long-running RPG series by Taiwanese developer Softstar Entertainment. The game had previously released on PC, XBox and Playstation 4, and now we’re taking a look at the rather ambitious gamble that is the Nintendo Switch version of the game. 

7 Is the Magic Number

So I’ll get this right out from the start. I haven’t played any of the previous Xuan Yuan Sword titles, nor its sister franchise Sword and Fairy, so I was quite apprehensive when it came to the story and if I would have any clue at all what was going on. Fortunately, I’m happy to report this game feels to me like it’s standalone, and the game is very happy to use enough character/worldbuilding to keep you in the loop.

Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is the tale of Taishi Zhao who lives a quiet and modest life looking after his ill sister Xiang. Taishi is hired to take some soldiers into the mountains due to reports of monsters; this ultimately results in Xiang’s death, and kickstarts the game’s main story.

Walking down the streets in Xuan Yuan Sword 7

Taishi speaks to “Your Highness”, who helps separate Xiang’s soul from her body with the ultimate goal of her resurrection. This spurs an adventure that sees the duo cross the country, dealing with demons and getting far too involved in politics in the war-torn states.

The story does start rather slow and with low stakes, but I feel ultimately this does the player a favor; you get to slowly pick up its worldbuilding, the who’s who of war, and just what the motivations of the main cast are. Some plot twists are as obvious as the nose on your face, but the game doesn’t worry about taking the story to some dark gut-wrenching places before bringing you back up with some goofy humor. 

I didn’t think in the first few hours I would find myself so engrossed in the tale as I was coming out of the ending, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters as they grew in front of me and how their actions were intertwined in the grander scheme of things. While some of it is predictable, it didn’t affect the story in any detrimental way. Like a good soap opera, it was engaging and shocking at times while feeling almost homely and easy to get invested in.

Looking for Wang Jiu in Xuan Yuan Sword 7

Uncharted Locations

Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is what I would describe as a linear action RPG with a focus on interconnected areas with exploration elements rather than a sprawling open world. It features real-time combat that focuses a little more on reflexes than character building. 

The world of Xuan Yuan Sword 7 starts in the mountains of China, giving it a rural setting ideal for scaling rocks and jaunts through the countryside between the many settlements that litter the country. These are all connected and despite the game feeling quite open, they are more like linear pathways where you required to backtrack only a few times. The game just slowly pushes you on to each ensuing story beat through these locales.

Despite the areas being relatively small compared to other big RPG titles, there are a lot of treasures to discover, NPCs chatting about current events, shops to spend your hard-earned money at, and side quests to have you ferry stuff from one area to another. There’s also the standout distraction, Zhuolu Chess, which is such a fun mini-game with its unique blend of strategy and simplicity that I was ecstatic every time I came across a new opponent to play it against.

While out in the countryside or exploring a nearby cave or tomb things get slightly more vertical than I expected with the areas you can climb up. Sometimes it’s to further your adventure, but it can also lead to a hidden area with some treasure. Despite how the areas look on the mini-map the locations in the game can be quite deceptive, almost TARDIS-like at times!

Bonfire in Xuan Yuan Sword 7

Bonfire Buddies

Each major location has a quick travel statue that you can unlock should you need to head back to the previous area for a side quest or just a little bit of grinding. There are also Bonfires throughout that you can rest at. These heal you up, open up exclusive dialogue between your party, and in my experience brought the local predators back to life. Take from that what you will. 

To help spice the exploration up and keep gamers engaged, there are also puzzles. Let me tell you, these are some real head-scratchers, especially the first one which involves trying to open an ancient lock. It had me stumped for a good ten minutes or so. Fortunately, if you are struggling, there is the option to skip puzzles when you come to them, so the level of masochism is your preference.

Xuan Yuan Sword 7 has its RPG DNA, meaning there are skill trees to tackle, EXP to earn, weapons, armour, and accessories to equip…and one of the most oversaturated RPG mechanics of the last 10 years, crafting. There’s plenty of crafting to be done here.

Top view of combat in Xuan Yuan Sword 7

Mortal Combat

Next is the other side of the coin with an action RPG: the combat. While it’s functional, it seems to have tried taking on a little too much while garnering too little payoff. This is especially the case with the Nintendo Switch version, though I’ll discuss that more when it comes to the general performance of the title on Ninty’s hybrid system.

Combat has a block, a dodge with invincibility frames, heavy and light attacks, and magical abilities (e.g. the ability to slow time down, pretty standard for the genre). Enemies also have a health and a stamina bar; depleting the stamina bar allows you to do an “execution” move which does massive damage (if it doesn’t kill your foe outright). Stop me if this is starting to sound familiar to a certain popular action RPG published by Bandai Namco.

The combat is serviceable, which is about the most praise I can heap on it. There is a mechanic where you can “capture” enemies like a Ghostbuster or Pokemon trainer and then combine their souls with others to fuse upgrades. Hits on enemies have little to no feedback, and while there is a parry system, enemies of the game offers little to no challenge at all outside of the boss fights. 

While I suspect this is more of a Nintendo Switch issue, the combat feels incredibly limp. This just creates tedium when it comes to the sections of getting from one place to another while being relentlessly attacked by wolves. Fights with boss characters do show how the combat can shine in the right circumstances, but these are massive difficulty spikes which can often see you retrying the fight a few times before you can figure out the boss’s pattern or the best way to cheese it.

Your party members also get involved in combat and have their unique moves to help out, but again there just isn’t enough flash or feedback to feel the difference they add to the overall soup that is this game’s combat systems. It’s a damn shame because there is a lot of combat in this game and there are a few standout fights, but for the most part, it’s like wading through a swamp hoping to find treasure.

Body on the floor

Inadequate Performance

Sadly, a key aspect that really holds Xuan Yuan Sword 7 back from being an absolute gem on the Nintendo Switch is how it actually runs. Like many other more recent Switch ports, this version of this game has some horrendous performance issue. They’re bad enough to be outright detrimental to the overall experience of playing this game, which would otherwise be fantastic in many ways.

As previously mentioned the combat feels awkward and limp. This is partially due to an incredibly unstable framerate, which doesn’t feel like it’s remotely capped at 30fps and certainly doesn’t seem to reach that at any point of the game. This is especially noticeable during larger scenes with flames decorating the scenery, making the console chug like the little engine that can’t keep up.

Visually the game has a fantastically strong Chinese Dynasty art direction going for it, which judging from videos and screenshots looks gorgeous on other platforms. Here the art direction still shines through, but you’re fighting with textures popping in and out like whack-a-mole. Clothing models just have a weird life of their own and there’s an ever “popular” vaseline filter that plagues so many of the Nintendo Switch 3rd party releases that it could cause anyone to consider a trip to the local opticians.

The music is absolutely beautiful in Xuan Yuan Sword 7. And while I can’t speak for the quality of voice acting (as that there isn’t an English dub), none of the characters sounded particularly out of place, though “Your Highness” does grate almost instantly with their crow-like screeching.

Squeezing through a gap


Ultimately Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is a fantastic game, but the Nintendo Switch version isn’t the one you should go for if you have any other alternatives. Don’t get me wrong, the game just about squeezes by as playable, but in hindsight, I wish I had played a version of the game on stronger hardware. I feel that would have alleviated many of my issues with the game, which are more about the performance and not the actual game.

Xuan Yuan Sword 7 is a 20+ hour slow burn that takes a few ideas from Souls without really figuring out why they work. Aside from that, it’s a fully enjoyable AA romp that just smacks of PS2-era games. The story is great and the characters are incredibly likeable. I highly suggest if any of this interests you or the screens catch your eye that you pick up the game, but do it on other systems unless you have no other option or you need that portability. 


Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S

If you are looking for more RPGs, you might want to check out our review of Dragon’s Dogma 2.

Thank you to EastAsiaSoft for providing a Nintendo Switch review code for Xuan Yuan Sword 7.

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