Guilty Pleasure: Heavenly Sword

*Warning: Spoilers Ahead

Throughout the year, there wave been some moments when I found myself waiting for the next game release or wanting to play something just for the joy of it. Mario use to be my go to game for fun and then  Mortal Kombat  for when I was looking for some competition. Since it’s release in 2007, Heavenly Sword has filled the gaps in my gaming time. The game was far from inferior but it did not garner enough admiration I believe it deserves for its storytelling, style and graphics.

Few games take advantage of Asia as a setting for story. Ninja Theory embraced the setting and created a great tale of a mystical sword which gave immense power to it’s user. Having a strong female character, Nariko, set the story apart from other games at the time. Pitting her against Bohan and his army really makes your task seem impossible. That is, until you realize Nariko can kick butt.

The story is epic to say the least and worthy of any big budget movie. However, the delivery of the vocal cast is one of the best and, to this day, keeps me coming back. I have utter hatred for Bohan and his weird antics, I feel sorry for Roach and the belittlement he receives from his father. I cannot stand Whiptail with her ‘hiss’ or Flying Fox with his split personality. The hardest scene to watch is when you run up late to save Nariko’s best friend, Kai, from Flying Fox. She is such a innocent and pure character that her death by his hands gives a perfect incentive for revenge.

One of the few qualms you could have about Heavenly Sword is the length of the game. But I would contest that the six or so hours of gameplay is the reason I come back year after year. I do not have to spend time grinding for experience or leveling up, I can just jump right back into the game like any movie I love. The chapter design of the story is also a nice touch because each one ends with an old-school boss fight. I say old-school because each boss has a pattern or weakness that you have to exploit by learning a certain pattern.

Finally, the game holds nothing back when it comes to graphics, even to today’s standards. The cinematic quality of the cutscenes was by far the best that was out on any console at the time. Remembering the close-ups of Nariko; the attention to detail is stunning. Each character is designed expertly and every landscape is worthy of panning the camera. Heavenly Sword could also claim to be one of the first game somewhat realistic looking hair. If nothing else, Nariko is the most life-like red hair in video games.

The PS3 was in need of a killer app when it first came out. Even so, I think most people missed out when Heavenly Sword was released. Gameplay was varied and different throughout the game, even adding Six-Axis support when shooting. The character models and voice acting are top notch along with a compelling story set in ancient China. Everyone has their guilty pleasures when it comes to games. Whether bad or good, they make us happy to be a gamer and Heavenly Sword will always deserve a spot on my shelf.