Last year we reviewed Xuan Yuan Sword 7 from developer/publisher Softstar, our review of which can be found here – yes, a shameless plug for a game I really enjoyed! As the seventh entry in that series, it seemed fitting that it should be mentioned as we’re now looking at another RPG from Softstar, Sword and Fairy: Together Forever. As the seventh mainline game – really the ninth – in this long-running Chinese RPG series, the game originally launched on PC as The Legend of Sword And Fairy 7, before having its name changed to Sword and Fairy: Together Forever for the console release (presumably not to scare anyone away).
An epic journey through mythical China
Set in a mythological China, Sword and Fairy: Together Forever follows the tale of an impending war between the Human, Deity, and Demon Tribes. As Yue Qingshu, a disciple of the Mingshu Sect, you’re pulled into this world-changing event when a Demon kidnaps a “Chosen Child”, which she happens to save. Before long, she’s saddled with a Deity, given a task in the Human World, and has to unravel the history of her sect. She has to do this while dealing with the treacherous shenanigans of others with their own plans for the child, all the while helping just about everyone else she encounters. But Yue Qingshu isn’t on her own. Familiar Spirits, companions, and the Deity Xiu Wu are all there to lend a helping hand.
In structure, Together Forever is a massive action-RPG that takes its inspiration from ancient myths and legends to create its world. From small villages to ice-locked lands, from titanic pagodas to gorgeous schools, Together Forever transports you through diverse locales to tell its character-driven story. There’s a sense of epic scale to the tale, not merely in the locations, but also the plot, the lore, and the character histories. The game is chock full of cutscenes to watch, dialogue to listen to (or read as there’s no English audio dub), and there are plenty of codex entries that provide further insight into the world. In short, Together Forever is an RPG rich in world-building and lore, whose mythological roots go a long way to making the game stand out from many similar RPGs.
You begin your journey with Yue Qingshu but, before long, you amass a party to help you on your way. As with every RPG, locations hide plenty of items to pick up, monsters to fight, and sidequests to take on – some of which require you to travel to other locations to finish them. Some are nice and simple, while others task you with multiple objectives to complete. All of them are worth doing and the best of them add more depth to the world and reveal the Mingshu Sect history.
Simple but engaging combo-driven combat
Together Forever also distinguishes itself in its combat, which plays out like a simpler Devil May Cry-style hack-and-slash title. Combat features both ground and aerial combo-based attacks that are nice and simple to pull off, requiring only a mix of light attacks, heavy attacks, jumping, and dodging. Each character plays differently, even if the combo patterns remain the same. Each character also has special powers and a “super combo” for those really rough moments. Yue Qingshu employs Spirit Familiars that can be called on to attack, while Xiu Wu can rain down spirit swords. Bai Moqing is the magic user of the group with weak basic attacks but her special abilities, such as calling down a tornado that sweeps the battlefield, do massive damage. Naturally, as you level up, you’ll unlock new special abilities to use.
A nice touch is that you can change up the party leader at any time and swap between characters on the fly, both in and out of battle – though there are moments where you’re expected to use a specific character for story reasons. The combat animations for the characters are wonderful as well, which highlights their different play styles. Yue Qingshu flows between attacks, while Bai is slower as she casts discrete spells.
There’s plenty to keep you occupied
There’s the usual assortment of new weapons, armour and items to collect or buy. Weapons can be upgraded a limited number of times and Yue’s Spirit Familiars can be levelled up by feeding them specific foods. There’s also a limited cooking system that imbues you with perks for a short time. Oh, and for those that like to play dress-up, you can swap characters in and out of different outfits too.
Scouring the environment is important as not everything that’s collectable will be highlighted until you’re at close range, and you can just as easily pick up a new accessory as you could a vegetable for cooking. For the lore hounds, the world is chockfull of books to collect or buy from friendly monsters. It’s worth paying attention to what you’ve read and heard because you never know when a pop quiz will appear!
If that’s still not enough for you, you can take part in various minigames, including a card-based battler and, more interestingly for me, a series of platforming challenges. If you just want to take a moment to chill and appreciate the scenery, you can jump into the game’s fairly robust photo mode.
Always pretty but next-gen is the place to play
Now Together Forever sports a nice variety of locales, most of which are rather pretty to look at and work well with the Photo Mode. Character models, at least for the main characters, are fantastically detailed and animated, as are the many monsters. Most NPC’s look alright but don’t share the same level of visual fidelity. The sound design is generally fantastic, with some wonderful instrumental music to provide a calming ambience or exciting battle track. Most of the dialogue is fully voiced and the actors do a great job of conveying emotion (even if I was relying on subtitles).
There is, however, a notable divide in the visuals depending on which platform you’re playing on. I spent most of my playthrough on the PS4 version, a limited amount of time on the PS5 version and, unfortunately, there’s enough of a difference – not just in visuals but also mechanics – that make it worth discussing.
The most obvious is that the PS4 version uses lower resolution textures in several areas and lower foliage density that makes some areas, such as the Swallow Valley, look strangely barren. Additionally, in certain areas, shadows were disabled on characters. However, several later areas on the PS4 were still full of gorgeous-looking foliage, water bodies, and scenery – making it feel as though some areas got more love than others. In general, the PS5 version looks noticeably sharper and that higher level of foliage density makes several areas look lush in comparison, with more screen space reflections present. Oh, and that aforementioned area without shadows – all present on the PS5. Mechanically, combat is also smoother on PS5 owing to the higher and more stable framerate. The PS4 version of the game suffers from input lag at times, which can break the flow of combos and attack strings.
On both platforms, there were a couple of bugs I also noticed during my playthrough. Sometimes enemies would run through the scenery during fights, or spawn beneath the world floor, but there were no game-breaking issues.
Standing out from the crowd
To wrap up, Sword and Fairy: Together Forever does have an issue with translation quality which can be… wonky at times. But, if like me, you’re a fan of Chinese Wuxia cinema and fantasy, and used to subbed content, you’ll excuse the slightly dodgy translations. You’ll also be right at home with the games story, humour, and epic scope that channels the spirit of those movies faithfully and, bar the occasional head-scratching conversation, it really does shine.
Despite a few bugs and visual issues, Sword and Fairy: Together Forever is a fantastic action RPG whose mythology and setting really help it to stand out from the crowd. Throw in a fast and fun DMC-light combat system, a great story, fun characters, and wonderful environments to explore, and you have an excellent RPG highly worth sinking your time into.
A review code for Sword and Fairy: Together Forever was provided to gameblur by the publisher.
Sword And Fairy: Together Forever (PS4) ReviewSword And Fairy: Together Forever (PS4) Review
Story8/10 Very Good
Audio8/10 Very Good
- Some really beautiful areas to explore
- Fun hack-and-slash combat system
- Great setting and lore
- Visual fidelity disparities between PS4 and PS5
- Input lag on PS4
- Some dodgy translations