In the last few years, I’ve gotten back into reading some comics and graphic novels, the Power Rangers Shattered Grid storyline being a particular favourite. Using the guided reading on the Comixology app has been a revelation, enhancing the reading experience. When I saw the Shuyan Saga trailer on the PlayStation YouTube channel earlier this summer I was immediately intrigued.
Shuyan Saga – An Epic Kung Fu Journey
Originally released in 2017, the game was developed by Lofty Sky Games, a studio based in Canada. The visual novel now comes to consoles for the first time with release on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.
Set in Ancient China the story centers around Shuyan, a teenage princess who is heir to the throne in the kingdom ruled by her parents. When the invading Guer forces threaten to wipe out her people she is set on a quest to master the art of Kung Fu, a martial art you are a young student of. The saga plays out over 3 books giving it a classic 3 act structure.
Shuyan Saga is one of the very rare times when gameplay is not king. It’s a fairly rudimentary offering, yet it serves its purpose of driving and enhancing the story. At times it’s awkward, clunky and sometimes suffers slight input lag but it ties the player to the journey of the main character Shuyan. By taking you on the path of mastering the techniques your Shifu are teaching, you are challenged in combat to see if you’ve been paying attention to the lessons you are being taught.
Even with its shortcomings, the combat is easy enough to pick up and you get accustomed to it very quickly. I can only imagine what this team would deliver if they paired up with Sloclap for some SIFU quality gameplay. Now that would absolutely rock!
Your choices as the player affect how things unfold and there are some clever ways these actions drove how the story is delivered.
Graphics & Audio
The art style presented is gorgeous with every frame exuding the artist’s passion for their craft. The comic book style was hand drawn by acclaimed comic artist Daxiong, who has credits on Star Wars Dark Horse offerings. The character designs are excellent and varied and all fit the world and lore. I was constantly taken aback by the detail, personality and style of each scene. A picture paints a thousand words and this game features over 1400 scenes.
On the audio front, Lofty Sky packs a punch pairing a truly awesome cast of voice actor performances with a really excellent score. Leading the way on the voice acting side is none other than Lana Lang from Smallville – Kristin Kreuk. These performances are really top notch and delivered with such nuance and chemistry. I couldn’t fault a single performance so kudos to both the casting and the actors themselves for some great work.
The score throughout gives that epic tale feel and had me totally engulfed in the epic story. It’s a beautifully composed arrangement that elegantly compliments the narrative and world that it plays out in.
The main story is fairly short and with easy, normal and hard difficulty options (I played normal with nothing too hard) there is an extra challenge for those who want to master it. What was nice to see also is the addition of 2 extra modes, Tournament and Adventure. These modes are locked from the get go but become available as you progress the main story.
Tournament is a Mortal Kombat style 1 vs. 1 mode. You take on increasingly more challenging opponents to rank as the top fighter. Adventure expands upon a particular story from the main game giving players extra context to the epic tale.
For trophy hunters, there’s a platinum trophy to work towards requiring you to grab 5 bronze, 7 silver and 8 gold trophies to 100%.
Shuyan Saga was a revelation for me having not previously been on my radar. While its combat is fairly rudimentary, it is its epic storytelling, deep lore and compelling characters who are excellently voice acted that make this journey truly worthwhile. I was left wanting more as I was totally hooked by the epic saga.
If you are into comics/graphic novels or have any interest in martial arts then you cannot go wrong with this brilliantly told story. It leaves me excited for what this team delivers with their next game.
This one earns the Thumb Culture Platinum Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.