Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains Reviews
Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond The Mountains is a fun piece of history that helps us see how games were evolving in the eastern side of the world. It is a great time piece but can easily frustrate modern players.
Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains is a solid traditional RPG remaster held back by a lackluster English translation.
If Xuan-Yuan Sword III: Mists Beyond The Mountains had a working localisation, it would be essential. After all, it’s not often that you get to play a RPG from the 90’s for the first time these days. The classic turn-based combat is well executed, the Pokemon-like monster-capturing system adds nicely to the base formula, and the real-world and real-history backdrop is something that I wish more RPGs did. But it’s so hard to follow the plot, worldbuilding and characterisation when the localisation is this undercooked, and these elements are all so important for the RPG genre in particular. I do hope that one day, someone has the opportunity to give these games a high-quality localisation, because it is obvious that they deserve it. Until then, unfortunately, this classic is only for the patient.
Mists Beyond The Mountains would be a perfectly average turn-based RPG if not for its acid-trip alt-history storyline and cuckoo characters. Its bizarre narrative cuts through unexceptional level design and gameplay to deliver something worth a second look.
Xuan Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond The Mountains is a game with a unique and fresh narrative in a market dominated by Japanese and Western titles, with a plot that discusses sensible and polemic themes. The game plays with mixing religions and a big amount of folklore myths from various parts of the world. Even though its gameplay isn't quite attractive and its graphics feel outdated sometimes, the different plot compensates [its failures] for those who are patient for an oldfashioned title when looking for an adventure filled with surprises and twists.
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The game is serviceable but I really wanted to like it so much more. There’s a lot of potential in the story and characters and both the music and visuals are great, but that’s where the praise ends.
It’s unfortunate that every positive I've mentioned comes undone at the hands of that dreaded localization. There were stretches of gameplay where I was just grinding, or exploring, and for a moment I’d forget what a mess the translation was, immersed in Xuan-Yuan Sword’s perfectly serviceable gameplay loops. But, this is an RPG, and to this player, world-building, deep characterization, and dense lore that I can immerse myself in is just as important to my enjoyment of an RPG as gameplay is. There will likely be a portion of players who will be able to look past this issue, simply content at being able to play a game that had been out of the reach of Western audiences for so long, and that’s perfectly fine. As I’ve indicated, there’s a solid RPG here somewhere and I have no doubt that this would be a fantastic experience had the port been shown the love and care it deserves. As it stands, though, Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond the Mountains is such a compromised experience that it’s impossible to recommend in its current state.
When push comes to shove, there’s just no way to ignore the terrible blow dealt to the game by its one-of-a-kind translation, evident in everything from the philosophical musings of the plot to how character arcs unfold. And if that alone wasn’t the deathblow, then the frustrating and plain unfun balance issues that made me beg for credits certainly did the trick.