Developers Softstar have forged a legacy spanning almost three decades with their RPG series The Legend of Sword and Fairy, yet it’s never seen the light of day on Xbox. Until now though, of course, as the tenth main entry Sword and Fairy: Together Forever arrives to bless our consoles with a combination of ancient mythology and epic action. Does Sword and Fairy: Together Forever excel at all it professes to be, or will you prefer a much shorter amount of time together?

Sword and fairy xbox yue qingshu

In Sword and Fairy: Together Forever, there was peace for many years, but now war has broken out between the human, deity and demon realms. At the centre of the goings on is Xiu Wu, a deity who is weakened and without his mighty weapon after a failed attempt at assassinating a demon. Winding up in the human realm, he forms a necessary symbiosis with human Yue Qingshu amidst an invasion of vicious beasts and demonic entities. Together, alongside a couple of allies, they must fight back and figure out what’s causing these breaches.

I’m barely scratching the surface there, as the entire narrative is steeped in ancient Chinese mythology and really delves into multiple aspects of it. Essentially though, it features spirits, deities, demons, elemental powers and religion, which when combined make for a fascinating tale. There are a fair few twists and turns as well, with gloriously timed treachery, along the way to keep you guessing. A healthy influx of new creatures and characters periodically also ensures dull moments are a rarity.

That said, the protagonists are hit and miss. You see, Xiu Wu isn’t the most charismatic main character and his lack of humanity shows, while Yue Qingshu shines in every instance. Yue is extremely determined, kind-hearted and brings out the best in everyone around her. The rest of the cast are intriguing at the very least; especially Sang Yo, a young doctor who joins our heroes on the adventure and brings a bit of humour with him.

It’s not easy to digest everything that’s going on however, due to a mixture of so much information being thrown your way and some rather awkward translations. The dialogue is in Chinese, hence by the time you’ve read the subtitles and figured out roughly what’s being said, you’re then playing catch up. The sheer amount of additional lore garnered for the in-game library outside of the cutscenes is to be commended for sure. You have to put in the effort to find and take everything in though.

The crux of Sword and Fairy: Together Forever is the main quest line, which sees you bounce from important plot progressing narrative segments to battles against bosses. Obviously there are elements of free-roam in between, but the action-packed encounters, which end with awesomely choreographed fighting cutscenes, are excellent. The quality of enjoyment also comes from the variety as in some instances you’re facing a charging bull-like beast or a fiery horse, while other times it’s a demon witch. These pose different threats, naturally, and taking them down requires good use of your arsenal.

Combat itself is played out via a third-person perspective, with the option to switch control to other characters instantaneously. Eventually you’ll have a party of four at your disposal: Xiu, Yue, Sang, and the yet to be mentioned Bai Moqing. This allows you to have fun with a nice little mixture of weapons such as swords, crossbows and the supernatural fulu talismans. What’s great is that on top of standard attack combos you’ve got a whopping eight slots for each character. Pressing the corresponding buttons will trigger special abilities, ranging from health boosts to elemental AoE type attacks. It’s a lot to get used to, but the freshness brought about by the impressive array of options is brilliant. 

There’s a lot going on during the heat of battle and the frenetic pace is exhilarating. The targeting of enemies could do with improvement however. Pulling off combos and unleashing abilities is finicky whilst trying to reposition the camera at the same time. It could be solved easily by focusing the camera on a chosen foe instead of wandering as you roam the battlefield.

Outside of the main story-focused missions, you have a fairly decent licence to wander the lands and fast travel between different areas you’ve visited. Taking on side quests from anyone willing to chat is a must, because these are wonderfully varied activities. Fetching items is of course a regular objective, but there are quests involving you acquiring information and answering questions based on your findings. Furthermore, it’ll send you on the hunt for all kinds of enemies and this introduces some very interesting creatures.

The diverse enemy designs you may set your sights on, or happen to stumble upon while journeying, is fantastic. Whether it’s the thorn monsters that share a likeness to a sinister version of Groot, the snowman and mink hybrids known as ice cones, or a hallucinogenic flower Anxiang capable of transfiguring into a lady, you’ll regularly be intrigued by the ideas. One of the best though is the Knife Nanny; an old hag wielding a meat cleaver that you wouldn’t want to antagonise.

Other things you can do aside from quests include partaking in a card game, forging equipment to enhance stats, cooking to receive handy boosts, and a series of platforming tasks. I wouldn’t say any of them excel, but they are good enough in their own rights. Well, except for the Journey Heaven-Earth card game, which although very simple to understand with its Rock-Paper-Scissors concept, relies way too much on luck and is better off avoided.

On the visual front, Sword and Fairy: Together Forever is a beautifully designed RPG and it’s clear a whole lot of effort has gone into crafting gorgeous locations for the realms within. Many times I’ve found myself staring out into the distant landscapes and admiring the cherry blossoms. Even the outfits are excellently put together with great detail upon them, but you won’t notice that straight away. That’s simply because the textures often take an extra few seconds to actually load.

Much to my dismay, a host of performance issues are present on Xbox Series X and the slow-loading textures are just the tip of the iceberg. Expect to experience a bit too much pop-in and pop-out for all kinds of objects and living things. The most worrying part though, is the sluggish transition from the pause menus to the game and vice versa, where it consistently struggles. Despite only crashing once, every single decision to pause is still pretty nerve wracking.

Audially, Sword and Fairy: Together Forever seldom puts a foot wrong and manages to set the tone almost perfectly with every piece of BGM. If a melancholic atmosphere is needed, prepare to hear elegant piano and bamboo flute combinations, however the soundtrack is additionally ready to bring in the horns, drums and cymbals for battle sections. The only slight downside is that weird sound effect loops can occur post-battle and carry over into cutscenes. 

Sword and Fairy: Together Forever conjures up a magical, mythical RPG that puts onus on storytelling before anything else, played out with awesome cutscenes. If only the translations were better, then the narrative wouldn’t be as difficult to follow and you wouldn’t miss out on anything. The action doesn’t suffer though, with excitingly fresh encounters throughout and interesting enemies to overcome. It’s undoubtedly a beautiful game too, while the soundtrack is nothing short of top tier. That’s why the performance issues are so utterly disappointing as they hinder some of the finest aspects.

It’s certainly worth considering Sword and Fairy: Together Forever, as you look to embrace the epic three-way dance between humans, gods and beasts.

Sword and Fairy: Together Forever is available via the Xbox Store

TXH Score

4/5

Pros:

  • Epic action cutscenes
  • Tons of mythological lore
  • Exciting combat
  • Gorgeous locations accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack

Cons:

  • Performance issues
  • Translations could be better

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – E-Home
  • Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC
  • Version Reviewed – Xbox Series X
  • Release date – 3rd November 2022
  • Launch price from – £34.99

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Source: https://www.thexboxhub.com/sword-and-fairy-together-forever-review/