Hey all. I’m back with a game that draws heavily upon the Wuxia genre from China. It’s Wandering Sword.
Plot: The plot involves a young man who gets caught up in a deadly incident where all his friends die. Thankfully for him, he is saved by a stranger who takes him to an acquaintance to be cured of the poison he is infected with during said incident. After healing up, he sets off on a journey for justice and to earn enough in order to repay the debt he owes to the person who saved him.
For those who are familiar with either the Wuxia or Xianxia genres, the overall plot will be pretty familiar. That being said, it definitely follows the two genre’s general lack of subtlety because certain events are incredibly obvious to those who know what to look for. Still the lack of subtlety is generally part and parcel of this kind of story, so I wasn’t too surprised.
Characters: The characters in Wandering Sword are pretty awesome. Yi is the main character, and players will really get to like him very quickly, even if he starts off being pretty clueless. The other characters you meet along the way are also well crafted.
Gameplay: Wandering Sword mostly plays a bit like a Mana series game mixed with a general turn-based strategy title like Final Fantasy Tactics. In general, you move about areas and begin quests for people like in a Mana game, while being able to interact with some environmental objects to harvest easy materials by collecting herbs or mining ore. In combat, however, it begins to play like Final Fantasy Tactics, and you can have your party begin to combat various enemies from monsters to other humans in order to get through dangerous areas.
There is a heavy emphasis on Chinese martial arts, which is a chief selling point for Wandering Sword. It’s very well done with everything from hand-to-hand skills to weapon combat represented. It’s not too often that a title really highlights martial arts like this, and Wandering Sword does a great job of spotlighting it alongside elements of Chinese culture.
Combat happens a lot in Wandering Sword. In fact, you can even spar with almost all of the NPCs, although you need to get a pretty basic rank of affection with any such NPC first before challenging them to a sparring match. Sparring right before you get into any actual combat is ill advised because you don’t regenerate health afterwards if you lose the match. I found that out rather embarrassingly after getting into a sparring fight with my first party member as soon as she joined up. She proceeded to kick my butt, though I almost beat her. But then I was weakened right before engaging in a real fight, which was not a good situation.
That experience was an important lesson in being very careful about how to use my time between combats and to not get into sparring matches right before fighting creatures like thieving monkeys. Thankfully, I had saved not too long before that, and I wasn’t too set back by having to load up that old save.
In terms of the fighting, the various weapon types and the skills you can employ in combat make the turn-based fighting very interesting. It’s also nice to see how they decided to implement the art of internal energy cultivation into the gameplay. The various forms of martial arts ranging from bare fisted techniques to flashy saber arts also makes combat a joy to go through.
Art: The art is almost completely all done in pixels and almost everything is rendered beautifully with it. Some parts are rendered in such a way as to imply certain things have 3D depth, and nothing is extremely polygonal. Note that there are also some more traditional artworks used for character portraits in dialogue or in the various menus. Overall, the visual presentation is amazing.
Music: The music is fitting for the title, and while not particularly outstanding or memorable, it does a very good job at making you feel like you are immersed in the world of Wandering Sword.
Overall: Wandering Sword is a spectacular strategy RPG that very successfully implements the various arts and mysticisms of the Wuxia genre into a well-crafted title that is a lot of fun to play. Overall, Wandering Sword is really great.
For those who like: Wuxia, Action, Adventure, Drama, Strategy RPGs, Great Gameplay, and Amazing Artwork.
Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above.