Review – Sword & Fairy 6

I am aware that the Chinese gaming scene gets a bad rep due to its shameful past comprised of poor-quality Famicom bootlegs, as well as the vast amount of terrible mobile knockoffs that are a dime a dozen on the Google Play app store. But that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some really impressive gems released by both mainland and Taiwanese developers in the past. ICEY, Implosion, and Detention are just a few titles that come to mind. I was ready to look at a Chinese game with a bigger budget and duration, something that would put the country alongside Poland and the Czech Republic as the new hubs of game development. This is what we got instead, Sword & Fairy 6, and oh boy, this one’s something else…

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The game’s actual framerate is as fast and fluid as this still image.

Sword & Fairy 6 is a turn-based RPG set in ancient China. This premise alone actually sounds very interesting. When was the last time we got an RPG set in said locale? Jade Empire, released fifteen years ago? There was a lot of potential on a game set in China by the people who live in the freaking place. Being the sixth game in a franchise also gave me some extra hope that this would be a great title, as I would expect that having sequels meant that people liked and bought the other five games in the series. Even though the initial cutscene featured the absolute worst English translation ever since Life of Black Tiger, the plot looked interesting, especially due to the inclusion of elements of Chinese mythology. Everything is fully voiced in Mandarin and the soundtrack sounds pretty good, so there seemed to be a bit of potential in here.

Then the intro cutscene ended, and the actual game began…

Oh goodness, what is this thing?? What are those graphics?? This framerate?? The horror!!

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Dude, learn subtlety. Geez…

As soon as Sword & Fairy 6 actually begins, you’re assaulted with the most unfinished and unpolished presentation I have seen in a PS4 game that isn’t comprised of reused Unity assets. The graphics are as mediocre as an early PS2 game, with about the same draw distance. Pop-ins are frequent and downright shameful. It’s not uncommon for an entire building to disappear from the screen just by tilting the camera around. Not even mobile games have such low-quality visuals.

The first thing you do in the game is partake in a battle, and while there are some interesting concepts in here, Sword & Fairy 6 does its best to teach you the methods in the most painful way possible. There is a lot you can do with this combat system as it allows you to plan a series of commands at once, not unlike games like The Caligula Effect. The game’s “tutorial system” however, which is nothing more than over ten pages full of text, does a terrible job at teaching you anything. You end up resorting to mashing the X button until you’ve finished filling up your gauge.

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Oh yeah, this game has platforming sections just to add insult to injury.

What really kills the game is its framerate. This isn’t just bad. The Nintendo 64 had bad framerates. Battlefield 3 on the Xbox 360 had bad framerates. This is just… despicable. Unacceptable. How did anyone allow this to be released? Did the developers try to optimize the game even once? The overall animations and textures are as simplistic as a game from 2002, so I have no idea how can Sword & Fairy 6 struggle so much to provide even a mere 30fps with a bunch of assets that clearly don’t push the PS4’s hardware to its limits. The framerate is so terrible that you feel demotivated to play the game. Even though there is a neat plot involving defeating an evil cult, having to withstand the single worst framerate I’ve seen in a licensed game in my life makes it nigh impossible to endure Sword & Fairy 6 for more than an hour or so.

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No, this is not a random JRPG released in 2001. They looked better back then.

There must be something good in here, but its visuals, controls, and framerate are so despicable that there is just no way anyone would be willing to play this game to the end to find out. There are good intentions in here, but the project was clearly far from what whoever developed it could handle. This could have been an actual breath of fresh air in the RPG market, but it ended up being one of the most painful gaming experiences of 2019 so far, as well as a tremendous embarrassment for the Chinese gaming scene. Let’s just hope that games like Sword & Fairy 6 don’t become a trend.


Graphics: 2.0

Might as well be the ugliest PS4 game not comprised of pre-made Unity assets. The character models are poorly animated, instances of pop-in are frequent and the framerate is horrendous.

Gameplay: 2.5

The game does try to innovate with a neat concept for a battle system, but everything is so poorly explained that you quickly give up on trying to learn the mechanics in more detail. Also, a terrible framerate.

Sound: 7.5

To be fair, the sound design is not bad at all. The soundtrack is comprised of tunes with a heavy Eastern vibe and the entire game is fully voiced in Mandarin.

Fun Factor: 3.0

Any potential this game had is buried six feet under by its myriad of technical issues.

Final Verdict: 3.0

Sword & Fairy 6 is available now on PS4 and PC.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Sword & Fairy 6 was provided by the publisher.