5th December '15 - Heavenly Sword.

I remember playing Heavenly Sword a number of years ago on the PlayStation 3. It was one of those love it or hate it type games and I loved it, yet kind of hated it too. The concept of the game was fantastic and I loved the hack and slash fighting, the gripping storyline, and the wonderful six-axis controls, but the wavering difficultly levels of the game jumping from incredibly easy to ultra difficult was frustrating. The design bug of having two main menus was annoying too especially once completing the game and realising you have to start it from the beginning again because the second menu was inaccessible.

The story is essentially about the evil King Bohan who wants to rid the world of clans so sends his armies to hunt them down killing them all. He also has a personal collection of weaponry and wants the Heavenly Sword for himself to put on display. (Incidentally the Heavenly Sword is actually two swords joined together.) A woman named Nariko is in charge of protecting the sword but it's not until her father is attacked that she decides to wield it herself.

Another character named Kai is the last survivor of another clan and has been adopted into Nariko's clan. The atrocities that Kai has seen has sent her mind into a childlike state and she crawls around on her knees a lot to the extent that they have turned red. Nariko is only a few years older than Kai but acts motherly towards her.

There is also father and son bond between King Bohan and the larger than life bumbling oaf son named Roach showing a loving side of the evil king. This father son love becomes more apparent at the end of the game.

It's not revealed where or when the game is set but Nariko's clan are clearly Oriental while King Bohan and his armies are not. There are also female Ninjas that attack from paragliders so there are some Steampunk style elements to this game but I'm not sure it was intentional. It's not supposed to be realistic after all.

The hack and slash is pretty straightforward and generally not too difficult, it's only when there's a boss fight that ruins the enjoyment of this game. The bad guy known as Flying Fox is particularly frustrating especially his taunts that can't be skipped. Ironically the final showdown between Nariko and King Bohan is relatively easy.

The most enjoyable parts of this game involve the use of the six-axis on the controller particularly when playing as Kai using her pump action crossbow. There's a real pleasure in controlling the bolts fired then watching them fly through the air while controlling their trajectory. At one point Kai is hanging upside down and the screen is flipped giving a real sense of disorientation.

While I no longer own a PlayStation 3 I'm still tempted to purchase this game via PlayStation Now and play it on the PlayStation 4. I have no desire to replay through the whole game however, especially the Flying Fox boss fight, but luckily Kai's missions take place before that so I could just play my favourite levels rather than completing the game fully.


Kai talks to a guard via a blower tube.

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