Should you buy Sword and Fairy Together Forever?
Yes, I recommend Sword and Fairy: Together Forever, as you’ll likely have fun with it and get at least 20 hours of playtime. But if you can’t deal with a little junk, I might hold off and wait for the next game in the series.
Have you ever played a game you wanted to love with every fiber of your body? But it had one too many things holding it back from being amazing. That game today for me is Sword and Fairy Together Forever. This action RPG has gorgeous environments, dynamic cinematography, a barrage of cutscenes, and fun combats. However, its numerous bugs and technical limitations prevent it from being a truly incredible game.
Sword and Fairy 7 was developed by China Mobile Games & Entertainment Group and Softstar Technology. It is the seventh game in its series. In China, this game is known as Chinese Paladin. But as you can see, it’s localize for the US as Sword and Fairy: Together Forever. After playing through it, I think it’s an easy recommendation for me to make, especially if you enjoyed their other games.
It is a beautiful game to look at. It’s well animated, and the rich storylines are far more interesting than I thought. Not to mention that the underlying systems and mechanics are well implemented, and the combat is fun and engaging. I think this game will pass by many players, which would be a shame. I found it enjoyable, and I think it deserves to be played by many people.
The story’s heart is the pair of Xia Wu and Yue Quigshu. As you know, Xia Wu is a mighty warrior from the deity realm who fights demons. Qingshu is from the human realm and lives in a quiet mountain village. The two inexplicably become linked to one another in a way. I won’t spoil their goals of warding off vicious beasts and protecting a special child. So they decide to adventure together.
The story is grand, with a huge cast of well-written characters and a long list of locals you’ll visit. The way the story is presented is quite impressive. Together Forever’s cutscenes give the game a high-quality feel. There are, however, two big issues that hold the story back.
➼ Game Details
Let’s first talk about what the game is in detail. Sword and Fairy: Together Forever is an action-adventure RPG that features a story inspired by Chinese mythology and a visual design based on traditional Chinese aesthetics. You play as a young girl named Yue Qingshu. She’s the eldest disciple of the Mingshu sect and proficient in the art of spirit servants.
➼ Spirit Servants / Spirit Creatures
Spirit servants or spirit creatures are spirits who enter into a kind of mystical contract with their master and take the form of chibi-style animals. The cute spirits can often become much larger and more powerful versions of themselves when needed. Moreover, they have various magical abilities.
➼ Linear Prologue Section
You start the game with a different character, a deity named Xiu Wu. Xiu is sent to destroy a rogue deity, but fails. His mission accidentally ends up in the human realm. Xiu Wu wields a sword known as Chunzi, which can tear holds in reality and allow him to travel across the six realms. This sword very quickly becomes quite relevant to the plot. But I don’t want to spoil anything. So, I think I’ll leave it there for now.
➼ After Linear Prologue Section
In terms of gameplay, I suppose we have three sections to discuss. You’ve got the exploration, the combat, and the RPG mechanics. The game handles exploration by giving the player a semi-open world with medium-sized zoned-off areas. These areas contain story quests, side quests, materials, healing items, enemies to fight, and a few minor puzzles.
As you might expect, the story quests will lead you through the game and have you traveling to different locations as the narrative progresses. However, you can travel back to previous areas to pick upside quests from the NPCs, which can be completed for materials and XP rewards. It is worth noting that travel can sometimes not go to certain areas due to certain story elements.
The combat in Sword and Ferry consists of weapon-based attacks mixed with some powerful magical abilities. You can perform light and heavy attacks with your sword and combine them in a combo, much like music or warriors games. You could hit three light attacks and end the combo with a heavy attack, for example. That will result in a combo finisher move, which hits quite hard.
You can also jump to get to higher ground, lock onto enemies, and dodge incoming enemy attacks if you hold down the right trigger. You’ll get access to your unlocked spells, and press the corresponding face button to activate it. Spells are on a cool down, and they cost MP, but you can recover your MP by attacking the enemies with your sword.
Defeating the various enemies in the game will reward you with XP money and materials that can be used for crafting and cooking.
Lastly, as far as gameplay goes, we come to the RPG mechanics, and there are quite a few. You’ll be obtaining a lot of different materials. These materials can be used as a simple healing item or to create buffs for your characters. You can also use materials like stone and metal known as ferrochrome to improve your weapons at a blacksmith. Weapons can only be upgraded a certain amount of times, and you can choose which bonuses you get. Something like extra attack power or critical damage, for example.
It’s worth pointing out that while this does equitable feature gear, it’s not a loot driven title. It’s presented as a much more spectacle fighter type of progression where your upgrades are tied or limited to story progression and discovering secrets. To give you an idea of what I mean, during my play-through, I found a few pieces of clothing for the main character that seemed completely missable.
➼ Leveling up
So it is worth exploring every little place that you find. The different items of clothing do grant stat bonuses like extra defense. So it is probably a good idea to seek them out. If you can, leveling up is handled in a somewhat understated way. Normally in most RPGs, when you level up, it flashes up on the screen, lets you know that you’ve done it, and gives you a skill point or something like that in this game.
Though I did some farming in one of the open areas, in the end, I’d leveled up twice and didn’t realize that I’d done it. It does happen, of course, but the game doesn’t make a fuss about it. Your stats do increase, and more customizable skills become available. It isn’t obvious when it all happens a little into the game. You’ll unlock the spirit system.
➼ Main Character Menu
In your main character menu, you can organize your party equipment items check stats, assign quests and abilities, read about your characters, and interact with your spirit servants. The spirit servant menu allows you to pair and feed your collected spirits. Throughout your adventures, you’ll acquire different qualities of spirit fruit, which you can then feed to your spirits to increase their level. When they level up, they gain a gift point, which is a skill point. You can then increase the skills that spirit has.
This gives you passive player bonuses. The spirits can appear in boss battles, but can’t be damaged or hurt. Equipping different spirits changes the buffs that you have active and allows you to learn new abilities. I think that about does it for the main parts of the game.
➼ Cons of Sword and Fairy 7
- The first is the pacing. Sometimes you’ll sit through long cutscenes only for the game to ask you to go to another location and sit through another long cutscene. This is exacerbated by Together Forever’s voice-over being entirely Chinese. There is no English voice dub. The game forces you to read everything. I don’t mind when games have other languages for voice-over. I quite enjoy it. But Together Forever, story segments are so long that it can get exhausting to read that much text.
- The language barrier is the second thing holding the entire game’s story back. To put it lightly, the localization isn’t stellar. Sure, you can understand what the playable characters are trying to convey, but there are a lot of grammar mistakes and poor translation. Usually, it’s simple things like mixing up the tents, but other times, it seemed like a completely wrong word was used. I had to stop and think a few times to understand what the characters were trying to say. In addition, what makes this particularly difficult at times is the fact that text can sometimes not stay on screen long enough to read fully.
All this put together made for a story I ultimately didn’t care for, which is a shame because I enjoy art centered on ancient Chinese mythology.
Those that can understand Chinese or are more patient than I am might find more enjoyment in this story. But I imagine the majority of players won’t find it that compelling.
➼ Character Abilities
Sword and Fairy: Together Forever is an action RPG at its heart. You’ll have a party of four well-written characters that you can switch between. All with unique move sets. Xiu Wu’s basic attacks are the slowest, but have a powerful array of magical abilities. Qingshu is probably the most balanced fighter, with relatively fast melee combos and the ability to summon spirits to come to her aid. Sang Yo is a ranged fighter, wielding an elemental crossbow and can damage from range. Bai Moqing is a caster that can command the elements to do her bidding.
Typically, in games like this, I find myself gravitating to one character only, but with Together Forever, I often switch between party characters when the situation calls for it. Certain flying enemies, for example, made it impractical to fight with melee characters. So I would inevitably switch to Yo. By the end of the game, Xiu Wu way outpaces everyone in damage, so I found myself using him for the last handful of hours.
Opinion on Combat
I felt like the combat was pretty solid. Sometimes I wish the animations happened a little faster and special attacks flowed together better. But overall, I had a smooth combat experience and enjoyed it. The game truly shines, though, in between story segments when you’re free to explore the world and take on side quests for granted.
The side quests are your typical RPG fair. But because the world is so beautiful and the combat is fun, you’ll want to exhaust every activity. There is to partake in. I loved gobbling up all the quests in an area and venturing off into the world to complete them all. Admittedly, I have a weakness for action Role-Playing Games with cute female protagonists set in pretty environments.
Other Game Modes
If you don’t share the same fondness, you might not be as forgiving of trite side quests. If those aren’t your thing, Together Forever does have a staggering amount of other distractions. The one you’re likely to sink the most time into is the collectible card game.
However, it’s a relatively simple combination of rock paper scissors and power levels. There are creatures all over the world you can challenge and obtain cards from. There’s also a rhythm game where you must stay on beat with a movement of sticks once you understand how it works.
It’s pretty easy to achieve the highest rank, but there are prizes each time you finish it. There are also plenty of one-off puzzles and mini-games by the end of the game. I was pretty surprised at how many unique mechanics Together Forever implemented.
Opinion on Gameplay
Now to be clear, the game isn’t one seamless open world. Rather, it’s broken up into large segmented zones. Thankfully the fast travel time is pretty short on PlayStation 5 so traveling between these locations is never a chore. Once in an environment, you have a lot of freedom to jump on buildings and explore at your leisure.
Now all this praise aside, there are a few quirks with the gameplay, for starters. You do have levels, but it’s not very clear when you level up or if you’re under-leveled. I think you must dig too far to find your level and the amount of experience you have in the menus. And as foolish as it might be to see enemy levels or other indicators in other games. At least you know where you stand against them. There were so many times when I would enter a new zone and immediately get one shot.
Another thing is the mini-map is kind of off. The mini-map shows that I’m off to the side. This might not seem like a big deal, but when I was exploring or trying to track down something for a side quest, it made it incredibly frustrating to figure out where I needed to go.
One last thing, the developers forgot to change the button icons. At first, I thought it was some unique icon to the world, but not until almost the end of the game did I realize this one was the Y button on the Xbox controller instead of the triangle button. It’s hard to deny that Sword and Fairy Together Forever is a beautiful game. The character models and constant cutscenes animate well. The combat effects look great, and some environments are downright stunning.
Opinion on Graphics
However, here’s where the game’s biggest issues start to rear their head while it runs at 4k on PlayStation 5. The texture work can sometimes look like something out of a PS3 game. Textures can range from decent to just downright bad. This is a shame because there’s some great design work being showcased. There’s also awful popping in any big environment. You’ll regularly see enemies, NPCs, and other parts of buildings pop in out of nowhere.
This was surprising, especially considering I played this on a PlayStation 5. Then there are the bugs. They aren’t frequent, but they are big and very noticeable. At the beginning of the game, one of the cutscene’s audio got super out of sync. It was off by a good 5-10 seconds. Then there was this bug where a character was floating above the table. They were supposed to be sitting.
It became clear to me by the end of the game that the developer’s technical abilities couldn’t keep up with their ambition. The last game in the Sword and Fairy series looked like this, which came out in 2015. By the way, the leap forward here is impressive. However, the team has more work to clean up their technical shortcomings.
Opinion on Soundtrack
On a more positive note, Together Forever has an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. Using flutes, strings, and drums creates an incredible feel for the game. It was hard not to be amazed while walking through the various environments and listening to incredible music. I liked my time with Sword and Fairy Together Forever.
Final Thought on Sword and Fairy
I wanted to love it. The beautiful visuals, fun combat, and stunning music drew me in. However, the uneven story and bevy of technical issues hold it back from being something truly great at only 40 dollars. Yes, I recommend this game, as you’ll likely have fun with it and get at least 20 hours of playtime. But if you can’t deal with a little junk, I might hold off and wait for the next game in the series.
You can also read another review, which will unlock your inner vampire.