I will not pretend I was excited for this game, and if you are curious why consider checking out my review for Sword and Fairy 6, the previous game in the franchise. Luckily, you don’t have to play that one as this series of games is more or less Chinese Final Fantasy, with titles being stand alone. Together Forever, or Sword and Fairy 7, has a young lady trained in swordplay and summoning elemental spirits who is part of a temple that has lost all its disciples but her, and a deity who has lost his great weapon as they have to struggle together against a powerful foe which has brought powerful monsters to ravage the land.
In terms of characters and story this has heavy cultural influences and feels very different from western games. The protagonist is respectful, disciplined, kind and overall likeable, a bit proud and generally the most logical, she often contrasts with the deity whose lack of social awareness often vexes her, he is very much the picture of quiet strength and grace one would expect from a divine being. There are heavy Chinese cultural and religious themes in the story, and while the gameplay is a grounded ARPG much akin to Star Ocean or Tales games, cutscenes have plenty of massive spells and airborne sword fights.
Graphically, this resembles early ps4 games with a bit of stiffness in animations and faces. I did not encounter any concerning glitches, other than one of the cinematics having the audio massively out of sync, and visuals and controls are generally smooth. The game is beautiful though, outfits are vibrant and bright without being garish, foes are unique, and features like quaint homes, soaring mountains, meadows of flowers and lush forests are very pleasant, they definitely made the most of using a slightly behind the times graphical engine. There is a bit of platforming which isn’t perfect, luckily though it’s largely mini games for loot and not necessary and certainly does not detract from the game.
The UI and menus are easy to use, there are mild customization options and there are three difficulties to pick when you start the game. Choosing normal, the game feels quite solid and should be something an average gamer of RPGs can complete, so if you are just seeking to see the story or if you want it to force you to play competently at all times you do have the choice.
If there’s one UI choice I dislike, is the font can be rather small if playing across the room, and there is no background which leads to the common problem of subtitles being unreadable if the ground is the same colour as the text. This is not the worst I’ve seen of this issue, but it has made me strain to read it from time to time.
The biggest charm of the game is just how easy it is to play it- everything about the game flows well, from story design to the ease of combat where you can simply walk up to foes and start fighting, to how well you move and fight, to the simplicity of the questing, weapon enhancement and power advancement. In many ways, this feels like a more retro game, and I’ve found that very appealing in a genre that is starting to become needlessly complex. It has a few charming minigames such as the mentioned jumping puzzles, and a card game, but these are fun little distractions and not near on the scale and complexity of minigames that others in the genre have.
I highly recommend Sword and Fairy: Together Forever to anyone seeking an RPG based on Chinese mythology. This is a large step from the previous title, and provided they improve from this point I could easily see this becoming a well praised series in the West. It is a good length, neither overstaying it’s welcome or providing too little content, at a fairly generous 20-30 hours depending on difficulty and time spent on side content. I can clearly say I was pleasantly surprised, and while this has a ways to go to match up with Tales or Final Fantasy in terms of polish and scope, it is a solid alternative if you are looking for an RPG outside of the well known champions of the genre and don’t mind a few blemishes.
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