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Jade Empire

Description official descriptions

A young apprentice of the old Master Li, a martial artist in the town of Two Rivers, is close to complete his or her training, when a group of ghosts led by a mysterious person attacks the town. Master Li explains that the leader was a member of the Lotus Assassins, a special force serving the Emperor of the Jade Empire, who also happens to be his brother. The student is revealed to be the last in the line of Spirit Monks, whose abode was destroyed several years ago by the Emperor's army. The student ventures into a nearby cave to retrieve a part of an ancient amulet; meanwhile, the assailants burn down the town and abduct Master Li. The student and a few companions decide to go all the way to the Imperial Capital and explore the Jade Empire in order to rescue the master, find the truth about the past, and discover the dark secrets of the Empire's rulers.

Jade Empire is a role-playing game set in a fantasy world which has strong similarities to China of the Qing dynasty (within some steampunk elements), incorporating not only classical elements of Chinese culture, but also supernatural beings and forces. Similar to other BioWare RPGs (such as Knights of the Old Republic) in general concept and features, the game has overall simpler gameplay and a somewhat smaller world.

The combat in the game is action-based, relying on various martial art techniques and moves performed by the protagonist. The player has direct control only over the main character, although other characters join the party; one of them can be selected to help the protagonist in battles, either for purely supportive purposes or as an additional combatant. The player character has three attributes: Body, Mind, and Spirit, which control the secondary parameters of Health, Focus, and Chi, as well as the conversation skills Charm, Intuition, and Intimidation. Focus energy is needed to fight with weapons (swords and staves), while Chi is used to heal the protagonist or perform supernatural attacks comparable to magic spells. Experience points are obtained from completing quests and vanquishing enemies, and allocated by the player to increase the protagonist's aforementioned attributes.

Quest and conversation system bears more similarities to previous BioWare RPGs than combat and character customization. There are many side quests in the game, some of which can be solved through dialogue, applying the main character's conversation skills. Many quests, including plot-related ones, can be solved in different ways. The protagonist may embrace either of the two major philosophies of the Jade Empire, Way of the Open Palm or Way of the Closed Fist, roughly corresponding to "good" and "evil" ideologies, respectively. Pursuing one of these ideologies rather than hesitating between the two may award the player character with various bonuses. The protagonist can also romance some of the companions, including same-sex relationships.

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Credits (Xbox version)

395 People (355 developers, 40 thanks) · View all

Lead Animator
Game Animation
Lead Cinematics Animator
Cutscene Art and Animation
Director of Animation
Motion Capture Performance and Choreography
  • The Smashcut Action Team
Motion Capture at
  • Giant Studios
  • Syncrude Center for Motion and Balance
Art Director
[ full credits ]



1001 Video Games

Jade Empire appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


Jade Empire, a Chinese-themed game with Chinese characters set in a mystical Chinese world, has no Chinese language in it whatsoever. All the signs and titles in the game have characters that look Chinese but in fact say nothing (both in modern cursive script and old disused ones). The old tongue "Tho Fan" used by certain characters (like the first weapon maker) is not Chinese but a constructed language developed by Wolf Wikeley, a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics at the University of Alberta.


  • In the town Tien's Landing, one of the commoners will tell you he doesn't foresee any trouble for the town (despite the opening of the dam which seriously threaten's the town's existence). One of the dialogue options you receive then is "I find your optimism... disturbing". This is a reference to Darth Vader's famous phrase "I find your lack of faith... disturbing" in the movie Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and a hint at Bioware's own Star Wars games, Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel.
  • During the credits of the game, the characters are talking as if they were actors. One quote is from Dawn Star, who says "There are four lights!". This is what Jean-Luc Picard yells at his captors in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Chain of Command" from season 6.
  • Some of the stories mentioned in Jade Empire are indeed myths from ancient China. One of the game characters is associated with the myth of Wan Hu. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Wan apparently constructed a chair with rockets attached to it that enabled him to fly to outer space. Other accounts treat this story as historical true but with a different outcome: Wan blew up into a thousand pieces that may or may not have made it to outer space. This story was a segment entitled "Ming Dynasty Astronaut" on the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters (Dec 5, 2004).


On June 13, 2005, Jack Wall's in-game music was released as a Audio CD of 75 minutes, divided over 31 tracks. The CD is available in select retail outlets in cooperation with Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc.

Voice acting

Even though many high-profile actors lent their voices to the game, the majority of the actors used in the game were actually actors from the Edmonton theatre community, the Canadian city where Bioware is located. It should be noted that there exists a certain amount of overlap in the case of such actors as Nathan Fillion, a well-known television star who happens to have been born in Edmonton.


  • GamePro (Germany)
    • February 23, 2006 - Best Console RPG in 2005 (Readers' Vote)
  • GameSpy
    • 2005 – #9 Xbox Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Xbox RPG of the Year

Information also contributed by lasttoblame, Nathan Taylor and NxCmp

Related Games

Jade Empire (Limited Edition)
Released 2005 on Xbox
Jade Empire: Special Edition
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Jade Order
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Tempest: Jade Sea
Released 2018 on Windows, Macintosh, 2021 on PlayStation 4
The Jade Necklace
Released 1987 on Commodore 64
Jade Cocoon 2
Released 2001 on PlayStation 2, 2015 on PlayStation 3
Warframe: Jade Axa Bundle
Released 2017 on Xbox One
Jewel Master: Jade Dynasty
Released 2009 on Windows
Warframe: Excalibur Jade Bundle
Released 2021 on Xbox Series, Xbox One

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 17863


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Unicorn Lynx.

Xbox 360 added by Parf. Xbox Series, Xbox One added by andri_g.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Last modified February 22nd, 2023.