Tales of Hongyuan is an indie – classic RPG by a Chinese studio – Hongyuan Game. It was first developed in Chinese with an English translation made later. Tales of Hongyuan comes into the category of Wuxia-themed game – a term that emerged from a popular Chinese RPG ‘Tales of Wuxia’.
The story delve into a typical Chinese kungfu-esque war novel – far from the usual ‘big baddie wants to destroy the world deal’. Personally, I disliked the story. Not only it was poorly translated, the translators decided to use ‘chat’-lingo where NPCs say “LOL”,”Dang,” and “Bro!”…things that takes away from the atmosphere of the game. The translation has also led to minor annoyance for the game. For instance, I was supposed to talk to a character known as “Luan Ping” – who turned out to be an NPC that was always named “Mysterious Man”. Or that mid-dialogue, the character changes name. For instance, there is an NPC known as “Ning Yuan”, who, in dialogues is called “Hong Ye”. Consistency in story was damaged due to bad translations. If you are able to read Chinese fluently, I advise that you play the Chinese version, maybe the story would make much more sense than the English translated mess I played.
The story was obviously rushed at the later half, where the actual 75% of the game was to get your team mates and doing minuscule tasks that has almost no influence on the story. Then without building up – the big baddie revealed and does his thing and ‘boom’ final fight. The story hook that was offered at the beginning, where the main character has no memories and that mysterious magical girl also has no relation to the main story. The stories was ‘poorly’ revealed through sidequests – where, if the player chooses to ignore sidequests, then they would not have no idea who the main character or the girl is. Why choose to reveal a pivoting storyline through a sidequest. And for those who ignored the sidequests, well…you are going to have no idea what the ending narrative is all about, because the ending does not take into account if the player has done the strings of sidequests or not.
The game has successfully created an oriental atmosphere for the game. From character design, maps and music, the studio got it on-point. However, there are questionable naming for items and even NPCs where it diverts away from the intended atmosphere. There are dialogues that pops out the name Richard or Georgetown – without being explicitly explained that the said NPC is a foreigner, however not easy to guess as they look like any other Chinese NPCs. There are also mecha-dog enemies roaming at a side dungeon that has no explanation why its there other than the developers just wanted mecha-dogs for enemies.
A more tactical gameplay will also benefit the game as it is too easy. Currently, battles only involves choosing the latest learned skill and just spamming them for maximum devastation. Equipping your team members for the final fight is also an easy task as the ‘high-end’ materials and recovery items can be purchased and with money easily earned without farming – it is basically a no effort for the best. Secret, powerful weapons are also available from sidequests or optional dungeon bosses, which are also easily done. Taming a monster absolutely destroyed the balance of fights as they deal massive damage at 0 cost other than it being random.
The game also provides the “Home System” where the players build infrastructures that provides support to the team by providing sale on items, weapon upgrades, certain in-battle skills and transportation. Again, the materials required for the system is readily available in a town shop, thus, no much effort is needed to maximize this system. The shop should not provide everything needed end-game. It takes away replay-ability and any sort of minor farming challenges that are required to reap a significant boost. It makes the game way too easy and not challenging enough. End-game is very easy due to this fact. Even endgame optional bosses. The developers should not be as kind for the next game.
Tale of Hongyuan definitely deserve the attention for bringing back the classic RPG. Gamers seeking nostalgia and a story that is unique to the Chinese culture – should try playing. I am looking forward what Hongyuan Game has in store next. Though, I hope the team would employ a much better translation effort. With better translation efforts and pacing of the story, the game will be improved significantly. The game has already a number of English-speaking fan base and if the studio decides to get a better translation team for their games, I am positive that their audience will be much wider.