A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the troubles I were having with reviewing Heavenly Sword, The response I got was great and now, a few days after I finished it, I'm ready to write the review that I promised
Heavenly Sword was one of the early PS3 games, in fact it was one of the first games that made me look at Sony's wonder machine and go: "I want that". The game is a hack and slash action adventure game in the vein of games like Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Rising and God of War, but manages to carve its own identity with solid gameplay and impressive visuals
Heavenly Sword is set in a fantasy world where the player control Nariko, Whose father is the leader of a clan who has long protected the Heavenly Sword, which they believe were passed down from a legendary godly warrior who once defeated the evil Raven Lord. At the start of the game Nariko's village is under attack by the evil King Bohan, who seeks the sword for himself. From this day Nariko is charged with protecting the sword.
One thing that I really can't stress enough throughout this review, is how beautiful the game looks. The scenery, animation and cut-scenes are quite spectacular considering the game has been out for almost 6 years. I am sure that this feat, at the time of the games release, could only be accomplished with the PS3 and if it hadn't been for the occasional drop in frame rate, the games presentation along with the voice acting superb voice acting from both Anna Torv and Andy Serkis would get an instant 10/10
The game's combat is solid, if a bit repetitive at times, but the game really sells you on the feeling that Nariko with the Heavenly sword is a much better fighter than Nariko without the Heavenly Sword.
There are three stances that the combat makes you switch between during your encounters, but the game does have some issues of letting you know when you switch stances. For instance, sometimes a heavy combo gets blocked and you circle through your stances, only to find you had to time your heavy combo better to make it hit the enemy
The large scale battles are truly something to behold
Where the game fails though is in its use of Sixaxis controls, I really hate the segments in the game where you have to use it. Quickly explained: there are sections in the game where Nariko or the other playable character Kai is forced to use projectiles as either weapons or for puzzle solving, This can either be Kai's crossbow, Nariko using a ballista or throwing a disc. Aiming these projectiles is very inaccurate so you have to guide them via a feature called Aftertouch where time slows down and you have to steer the projectiles to their respective targets.
Using the SIXAXIS on the best of days is a nightmare and having the game force you to complete these segments before moving on is a sure way to get people to rage quit the game. The game isn't unfair at any point, but the whole task is so tedious and time consuming and I'm left wondering if the game wouldn't have been better served if these elements all together
What these segments do right however, is introducing us to the character of Kai, She is easily one of my favorite female characters of a game ever after having played this game. She isn't forced into any kind of storytelling tropes (except for maybe one very small damsel in distress scenario) and is very much left to just being: Kai.
She is a very hard character to explain but I really urge you to either play the game or look her up on Youtube, she is really something special.
Overall I'm pleased to say that I had a really positive experience with Heavenly Sword, The game does suffer a little bit from being made 6 years ago, if one is to compare it to contemporary titles like DMC and Metal Gear Rising but all in all it was a solid experience and I wouldn't mind a sequel somewhere down the line.
I give the game a 4/5.