888th played so far

Genre: Adventure/Fighting
Platform: Playstation 3
Year of Release: 2007
Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Time to be reductive: Heavenly Sword looks like a hack and slasher not unlike God of War or Ninja Gaiden, fighting your way through enemies with maybe some exploration. It’s no wonder that this studio was later tapped to develop DmC, the disliked Devil May Cry sequel, and specialized in this type of game beyond then. This is their first – somehow, as I could have sworn we played a game of theirs before – and I guess it’s the one I judge them by.

Our Thoughts

There’s something that feels pretty good about the fighting in this game. It flows well and once you get to actually use the titular Heavenly Sword. You have three different modes of your sword – basically mapping to short distance, long distance/ranged and crowd control. It’s quite intuitive and the many moves feel fun to fight with. If it was all of the gameplay, it would have been fun, a nice bit of exploration, with combat corridors that might have dragged a bit… but I guess that’s the game, and it fits what others in the genre do.

Then there’s the other side, though, where the game tries to break up the fighting with a different activity. You need to shoot in several sessions – both the main character’s sister using her bow, and a bit later using a clumsy catapult. It sounds like a nice way to break up what you’re doing, but the controls don’t work for me.  It’s difficult to aim and the enemies are small, so it takes lots of tries to hit them. The first time, this just meant more enemies in a fighting section, nothing wrong with that. Later, though, you are forced to destroy three catapults in a limited time, hitting four targets on each (three at first, then a second one later). The hitboxes are small and difficult to predict. You get some control over the cannon ball as you go through, but it still feels difficult and inaccurate. I don’t think the game is explicitly Move compatible, but it seems like they wanted to use a Wiimote but couldn’t do it. There are some joystick controls that work a bit better to aim, but it’s not great and nearly blocked me from getting through – long before you get anything you really want.

Final Thoughts

Heavenly Sword is a beautiful games and while the fights get a bit repetitive, mostly they feel good to play through in the right doses, a chapter at a time. On the other hand, the shooting sections are both required and usually too difficult to handle, and it feels like they don’t belong here. Still worth a try for everything else though.