Written by  :  Ken Davis (119)
Written on  :  Nov 27, 2005
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Refreshing, even if it isn't that different.

The Good

I've been into games for quite sometime. While having a great selection of games made or being brought to the US, I always felt I was missing out on what isn't. So for some time now i've researched many series, and games only released in their respective countries. In order to play them I even started learning small words and menus. Slowly they started becoming playable to me. While always looking to try something new I caught a glance of reviews for this series. Judging from the screens and praise, this seemed up my ally. So I took a chance and ordered this game. Now I have beaten the game. So i'm going to write my first review for mobygames on it.

The first thing that appealed to me was the fact it was a very well crafted 2D game. Very rich colors, and nicely detailed sprites. I knew right from my first battle alot of care and effort was put into this game. From seeing the characters clothes swaying back and forth, then having the sword bend and move like a real chinese sword. Its hard to even think of a 2D rpg that looks so good. It's great seeing one that does.

The graphics in the game use prerendered backgrounds, while having 2D sprites. The battles feature full sized character sprites, and feature unique watercolor backgrounds. Having some of its older counter part Xuanyuan Jian 3 afterwards, there seems to be improvements in its graphics such as better animations. There are many beautiful and truly unique areas. Never did any area look bland.

The battle system itself isn't too much different from other rpgs. The game uses random battles. Where you a sound occurs and you are placed in a battle screen. You have your commands like other rpgs such as fight, magic, item, etc.. There are also limit break type attacks in the game. Which you get from maxing out a bar that fills when your character takes damage (like FF). You also gain levels normally through exp.. Unlike other rpgs there is another meter you have as opposed to just HP and MP. You can use it for certain spells such as one that recovers MP. Occasionally enemies will sometimes even talk to you similar to say the SMT series. Sometimes they'll ask a question and if you answer it right they run away or give you something (If I remember correctly).

The game never comes off too difficult, but it has its moments. Which was a good thing for me since I have to deal with the language barrier. The dungeon design was usually straight forward, or only occasionally maze like. They usually had their rewards that make you want to explore them thoroughly. There were some annoying puzzles that feature picking numbers, although I think only one of them was mandatory. The game was a little over 30 hours long.

While I can't judge the storyline fairly for obvious reasons, I was intrigued by it. There definitely is some truly deep character development for Chen Jingchou and his companions. Not to mention many betrayals, twists, and surprises. Things I did not see coming. I felt attached and really cared about some of the people in the cast. For fans of the series, there seems to be some familiar faces that will appear throughout the game. As well as areas you also visit in Xuanyuan Jian 3.

The music is excellent. Some returning tracks from Xuanyuan Jian 3 and some new tracks. I listen to the music quite a bit outside of the game. Another awesome thing is the music is compressed in mp3s. Which you can find in the games music folder. So you can listen to the music from the game without any hassle.

Also for anyone reading this and about to play the game. Check out the well in one of the villages for a surprise!

The Bad

Not really much to complain about, but there are some problems. First off being the game features movies throughout. Strangely though most of the "movies" use in game graphics. Only difference is some animation with the characters or some kind of spell effect. There are some cg movies, but they are very brief. Before each movie it always asks you to put CD4 in the disc drive and there is a very short loading screen.

There is also a slight problem with the sprites during certain storyline sequences. Characters will be walking straight, yet facing diagonal. Which is kind of awkward, but can look past it.

I suppose the only real problem with the game is actually its storyline. Don't get me wrong, it's very well done and I really liked it. Just it's so depressing. It is probably one of the most depressing storylines that i've ever witnessed in a game. It felt as if almost every good thing you did had some terrible consequence to follow it. I understand that one of the themes in the game was to never give up hope, even at the darkest of times. Although I have to say they really test you in this. Like i'll compare it to another game. Ever played Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2)? Remember what happens to a very important location in the game towards the end? Where you think all is well, and then... wow. It's like watching that scene, except 30 times.

The Bottom Line

I definitely did not regret picking this title up. I enjoyed it so much I started its counter part Xuanyuan Jian 3. I've also been looking into the rest of the series. A very well crafted game that managed stay a game while telling a deep story (though a bit depressing). Easy to pick up and hard to just let go. Even if it doesn't offer much new in terms of gameplay, it still manages to be quite an experience.