When compiling a list of underrated current generation games one title immediately sprang to mind: Ninja Theory’s PlayStation 3 exclusive Heavenly Sword. Released in September 2007, shortly after the European launch of the PlayStation 3, the game tells the story of Nariko, a red-haired warrior woman that aims to protect a divine weapon, the titular Heavenly Sword, from the clutches of the evil King Bohan.
It may not immediately sound like a particularly original tale, but very few games released since then have come close to matching the phenomenal execution of the narrative. Using motion capture technology the cast of the game, including Andy Serkis (Gollum, The Lord of the Rings) and a host of British character actors, fully performed every cut scene, creating a wonderful cinematic experience. At the time there really was nothing else like it; so many games’ cutscenes feature wooden character models just that just stand there and deliver exposition – the characters in Heavenly Sword were able to tell you more about themselves and the world around them with a single glance than most games can in an entire cut scene.
Of course this is a video game we’re talking about here, it wouldn’t matter if every cut scene starred Marlon Brando and was directed by Alfred Hitchcock if the game played poorly. It is fortunate then that Heavenly Sword’s high quality cut scenes were easily matched by the gameplay. As you’ll be able to see in our video (below) the gameplay features a mix of smooth hack and slash combat and quick time events. Every now and then players are also able to use the PS3 controller’s SixAxis functionality to adjust the tilt of thrown objects and projectiles, allowing players to execute the all important head and groin shots.
It’s very hard to actually sum up why the game was so great in only a couple of hundred words – it’s far easier to simply show you:
Despite garnering decent reviews and selling over one million units we don’t think that Heavenly Sword gets the praise that it deserves. Although it is a relatively short game and doesn’t have any multiplayer component it is arguably one of the best single player narrative-driven experiences available on any console at the moment.
Although Ninja Theory have reportedly already written the script for the sequel production is not yet underway on a sequel (as far as we are aware) because Sony owns the characters. As such, if, like us, you want to see the further adventures of Nariko we recommend that you let Sony know about it by leaving a comment below. You never know who might be reading.
- Luke Mears