Tale of wuxia review.
The overall impression is I enjoyed the characters in the story, the gameplay is truly bad, plot is just okay, minigames are a terrible grind, the cultural aspects are overly verbose, and the overall presentation is passable. Music is pretty good too.
Do I recommend it? Only to Wuxia fans in the strictest sense. I wouldn’t recommend it to casual gamers.
Where should I begin…
I guess it should be the history first and foremost.
Tale of Wuxia can be seen as a sequel of [Jin Yong Qun Xia Chuan]. Jin Yong is a guy, along with two other guys, sort of made Wuxia (Martial arts + Heroes.) real popular decades back. Imho, xianxia (fantasy hero) kinda evolved from wuxia. This game is actually a remake, as the concept had already been done like years ago. If I’m not wrong the game wasn’t financially successful, and after one more game which again wasn’t successful, the company had to close.
Jin Yong Qun Xia Chuan describes the protagonist (you), as a modern world dude who time-slipped into Jin Yong’s world. He needs to retrieve Jin Yong’s 14 different novels in order to go home. After resolving the different events in the novels, he battles the Ten Great Evil Persons (Canon) alone and won, which he then proceeds home.
Years later, the original developers came back as a company to remake it again.
Introduction to the term Wuxia:
Wuxia is supposed to be a hero who does good deeds and do all sort of things that relates to chinese ethics and moral codes, something like that.
Tale of Wuxia adheres to the genre, obviously.
Story Plot/Direction rating – 5.5/10
There is a litany of problems here.
The first problem is there’s so many lines of poetry talk. It’s at the point where I think you need higher level chinese study in a real chinese university to even make sense of the text. There is a TON of cultural stuff in it that is indicative of the phrase – [4000 years of chinese culture]. I think it’s kind of interesting and boring at the same time; you really have to have a passion for this sort of thing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m seriously impressed with how complex it is, and it really shows the writer knows his stuff really well or that he researched really well. I lost count of how many types of Chinese wines are out there and what they drink them with different cups, like how you have different wine glasses for white/red wine. Different types of tea and how the quality of water affects them, ten over different chinese chess puzzles, about how chinese letters are written back then (like 4-5 different prototypes of the original alphabet) and their history.
It’s classy enough to be recognized as a historical gem, but if you’re the typical casual/regular gamer, then it’s just too complicated, especially more so if you can’t read chinese characters. Yet I feel that the writing doesn’t explain itself most of all the time. While there are occasions where the protagonist explains a few answers here and there, most of the time it just leaves the reader to decipher the answer for themselves, and a casual search within the chinese community doesn’t show the explanations either.
Moving on to the “main” storyline.
Now if you look at the above, the level of intricacy for the cultural aspects is really high. Does the main storyline compare? Sadly, it’s a no.
To start off, the protagonist in Tale of Wuxia is a teenager who dreams of becoming The Hero, like another dude who became The Hero 100 years ago in another different game. He goes through the cycle trusting certain people all too easily at their words, which in turn causes a situation that causes the villagers to hate him, before he resolves it. You shouldn’t help the villains, says the villagers.
Generally that works well enough as a plot device, but the execution isn’t that effective.
Imagine watching an action movie. The protagonist goes through a reluctant process where it’s not exciting in the beginning and even slow because they need to introduce the characters, then the protagonist gets angry/upset because of a particular event and it becomes really exciting at the end. It’s like the big clash between the good and evil, and the outcome is where you get a favorable outcome (An example of such movies, The man from nowhere or Taken.).
There’s a ton of visual and sound intensity needed to compensate for the lack of plot when it comes to the action genre. Tale of Wuxia tries to do that with some in-game cutscenes, but in order to make it successful on a tired cliche, you need a variety of camera shots to express a full range of emotions. Tale of Wuxia comes off as a bit of a visual novel-type, but the character portraits consist only of 1 body shot illustration.
The only time where it uses a range of emotions is the Chibi like shots, which I feel that it takes even more away from that limited range of expression, because Chibi stuff tends to be non-serious.
Voiced lines would have done wonders for that bland section.
Generally speaking, the [main] plot is okay in terms of writing. As far as I can see, nearly 90% of the plot is about you going through 4 years of nurturing your skills in a valley. I get to see bits and pieces about the Big Evil, but it’s only at the last year (which is Year 4), before everything explodes and a war is about to break out between the good and evil. I finally get to “explore” the world map, but about one hour later the story ends.
In comparison, The prequel Jin Yong Qun Xia Chuan (such a mouthful), plays out like a traditional isometric CRPG, somewhat like baldur’s gate. It allows you to explore the world map without chucking you into a small place where you spent majority of the time there. While it’s true that it kind of reflects the life of a martial arts dude in a sect in Tale of Wuxia, this doesn’t make up for good story material if you’re going to stay there in a small corner where middling events happen.
It also doesn’t help that the pacing is completely off due to the format of the gameplay. You’re highly invested in getting good stats/skills, which takes quite a bit of time to think about how to ration your limited stamina.
Ultimately the main plot comes out with such a cookie-cutter format that it leaves me scratching my head. In some aspects I find the prequel to be even greater because of the way how it deals with the plot. It has 14 different scenarios where you get to solve the novels’ character conflicts, and a final conclusion of battling with ten final bosses. Tale of Wuxia gives you one general scenario where you resolve things in a few different ways at the end of the game.
Take note that this is merely about the plot and not about the roleplay. One can arguably say that Tale of Wuxia has very strong roleplay elements that takes it into a direction where it’s entirely different from the prequel.
Characters – 8.5/10
The characters are designed really well and are varied in terms of personality. Interactions and lines between them are the best highlights of the game.
There are 10 girls + 2 DLC girls to pursue. The latest steam version of 18.104.22.168 (free DLC already included) has a conflict on the schedule for the DLC girls, which is later corrected in later patches (not available on steam yet). Each of the girls have around 7 or 8 events, along with main mission events to gain affection.
I do like how the protagonist is straightforward and kinda dumb in the romance department, but he retains a strong quality of a Wuxia hero who doesn’t get seduced by the bad girls and become anakin skywalker, although there are moments where you have to let a thief girl get away if you want to pursue her.
All in all, it’s really quite sweet and even downright cool by throwing away social norms (Yaksha DLC route). I do find it funny about the women not aging though.
The bro factor is done quite well too, although I must say I wish that I get more bro scenes. There was one scene where the protagonist is being dumb enough to get deceived by a con-girl, and his bro tried to soften the blow by acting dumb as well. Said protagonist suddenly took a level up in observational skills and calls him out on him. I chose the “You lied to me too, you bloody bastard!” option instead of the “You were just trying to cheer me up” option, which caused our relationship points to drop.
I kind of wish there was a follow-up scene that the developer puts in so that either one of us apologizes, because that’s how much I cared about being a bro. There are nice other moments, like how the senior-sect bro turned to the dark side and the protagonist risks his life to save him.
Out of everything in the game, I liked this aspect the most.
Gameplay, UI – 3.5/10
The mini games are quite frankly outdated. I know it’s supposed to be a nostalgic game for the chinese gamers, but man, that’s not something I enjoyed even remotely. It’s a horrific grind to get the materials you want so you can craft the items you want, which again is another mini game.
There are so many stats that it nearly makes it look really complex and impressive, but then you realize that it’s really quite silly because it’s just a multiplier damage OR restriction to learn a particular skillset. You want to punch people? Well let’s up your punching skills. You want to stab people with a sword? Let’s up your sword skills. Ad nauseam.
The most ridiculous thing and greatest restriction is the cooldown on movesets that occurs if you switch different skill sets. Are you f—ing kidding me? This is the biggest letdown, ever. So if you learn a particular skill, say Solar Finger, you get two different movesets on it. The basic skill has no cooldown if you switch to it from another skillset, but the second moveset gets slapped with a cooldown, of like 3-4 turns.
That’s the absolute worst gameplay decision ever made. I mean, you could give the excuse like you need maybe need the “Martial art knowledge” to reduce the cooldown, but nope, it’s a damage multiplier and you can’t reduce the cooldown whatsoever for any movesets.
The thing with movesets is how they boost you up with different kind of status boost. It might be multipliers for critical chance, accuracy, attack damage, etc, etc. It will really make one feel like you’re a martial god if you can rotate all these combination moveset skills. The developer could have linked cooldowns with related skill profiency and that would have boosted the complexity of the game immensely.
If you can’t swap the different skillsets, what is the point of learning twenty different skills only to just keep using one skillset?
UI is also terrible in keeping track of the stats. Instead of letting you read the stats that increase, it appears for a few seconds then quickly fade out, like they aren’t important. Given the above criticism that I wrote, I can agree that it’s not important at all, but it still annoys me to no end when I miss the text of what stats increased. Even worse is how the aftermath of each battle is resolved. There’s a hidden XP somewhere in the skillset. Each time you use your skill or defeat an enemy, it’s my belief that it increases in XP and will even level up even in the middle of a battle.
That is NOT shown at all. Even the prequel bothered to show it in text that your skill level has increased.
Item management is a clunky mess. I don’t see any options to rearrange it. There’s no world map/map and there doesn’t seem to be a quest log management as well.
That’s not the end of it, however. I also feel that the game is not balanced accordingly in regards to the damage calculation, but I didn’t really go deep enough to be able to establish a criticism about it.
Most of the time you’re going to pick icons to train or find events, and not walk around in a map to explore things, which will be boring after realizing that you’re going to do this for 75% of the game.
Roleplay – ?/10
The thing about roleplay is that it’s highly personal. I personally enjoyed having the girls calling me my online name and it is really quite gleeful. I would say 9/10, but your mileage might vary.
Regarding the stats development, I’ll say that it’s more important if the gameplay actually mattered. At present it’s a “pick a skill tree and stick with it”, otherwise you’re going to suffer.
Graphics – 8/10
This is one of the best looking Unity game I’ve seen. It tries to merge a variety of art choices into one, and for the most part it’s fine for what it is. The only criticism I have is the want for better 3D cutscenes and more 2D body portrait shots.
Music, voiced lines – 8/10
It’s really as good as it gets for the budget it has. There’s even a small cutscene of someone singing.
There are also a number of short voiced lines that even has a number of dialects for different characters if you right click in battle. I chuckled when I listen to Tang Sect’s disciples talking. It’s all very garbled and mouthful, leading to subtle situations.
The people who did this area did it really well.
Overall score – 6.5/10
I really want to say that Tale of Wuxia is a great game, but it’s not. However, if you want an English Wuxia experience from a game, I think it’s the closest experience you’re going to get.