Chinese indie studio Xiameng has unveiled a wuxia-style pixel art RPG called Codename: Wandering Sword (opens in new tab) that casts players as a young man from Liao City who finds himself trapped in a feud between two rival clans.
The adventure begins with a spot of bad luck, when you’re “poisoned with the Frozen Toad.” I honestly don’t know if that’s a literal venomous amphibian or some sort of metaphor, but either way, your life is saved by Qinxu, leader of Wudang, a twist of fate that drives you to become a great warrior and set out in search of adventure on the Central Plains and beyond.
Codename: Wandering Sword is set in a multi-region open world filled with towns, fortresses, strongholds, caverns, and other “unique” locales. It will support both turn-based or real-time combat, enabling players to battle enemies as fast or as slow as they like, with hundreds of martial arts moves, special powers, and weapons to choose from.
The power of friendship is also an option: Most NPCs in the game can be engaged through conversations, gift-giving, and sparring, and if you make a good enough impression they’ll join your party and maybe even teach you their special Jianghu abilities. Ultimately, the choices you make along the main quest and “great number” of side quests will lead you to one of multiple different endings.
Wandering the world as a martial arts superstar is appealing in its own right, as any RPG fan will tell you, but what really impresses me about Codename: Wandering Sword is the way it blends old and new visual styles for an especially lush look. Xiameng Studio said it “harks back to the pixelated Wuxia games of the MS-DOS era, but also brings us modernized visual effects” rendered in Unreal Engine 4. I’m not intimately familiar with that very specific subgenre of the DOS era and there doesn’t seem to be an overly large number of them out there for comparison (Jinyong Qunxia Zhuan (opens in new tab) and Legend of the Sword (opens in new tab) are a couple examples listed on Mobygames) but regardless of its digital heritage, the overall effect is quite lovely.
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Codename: Wandering Sword doesn’t have a release date set at this point but you can find out more on Steam and Discord.