Joystiq impressions: Heavenly Sword (PS3)

No, it's not Goddess of War. Many (including myself) have been quick to pass this game as "God of War with a chick." Although being compared to one of the best action games of the last console generation is far from an insult, it does take away from the qualities of Heavenly Sword that make it so unique.

The most important thing to note about Heavenly Sword are its controls: don't start playing the game, expecting it to control like God of War. This is a vastly different beast to tame, and button-mashing isn't as encouraged in this battle system. Expect to be a lot more methodical, and observational, as analyzing enemy movement and stances becomes crucial to true success in the game.

Nariko has control over three forms of the Heavenly Sword, each feeling drastically different from the other. In its default state, it forms two separate swords, which give Nariko the best overall speed and range. However, holding either L1 or R1 will change the sword into one of its other two forms. First;y, there's a chain, which is best for keeping large groups of enemies at bay. Secondly, the sword can transform into a massive blade, one which would make Cloud Strife jealous. Obviously unwieldy, this one will attack for massive damage.


One of our favorite things about Heavenly Sword has to be its blocking and counter system. There's no button for blocking. Rather, by simply standing still, Nariko will be able to block most enemy attacks. With the right timing, the player can press an attack button to counter an enemy in a rather beautiful display of power. Players will want to learn enemy movements and watch them closely, as they can enter stances of their own. Although the game will throw massive amount of enemies in Nariko's way, each battle feels a bit more decisive than those in God of War.

The game has a pretty comprehensive moves list, which was compiled in a menu, as in a fighting game. It appears that some combos will require using the Sixaxis controls. The myriad of moves at Nariko's disposal are impressive, and many are refreshingly brutal. Players will want to do their best to play as stylishly as possible. Why? By using counters frequently, or by using combos, players will fill up a style meter on the top left. The meter can be filled up to three levels, and each will provide a special attack of varying effectiveness. At maximum power, Nariko can spin an enemy around with her chain, killing everyone in a room.

Heavenly Sword is a sight to behold, with stunning graphics, and animation that easily outclasses the competition. The story has us quite intrigued, and we want to know more about Nariko's pact with the Heavenly Sword that will seemingly end her life. The E3 demo that we played did far more than convince us that this is more than a God of War clone -- with its incredible graphics, and involving gameplay, Heavenly Sword has the potential to be the system seller PS3 has been waiting for.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.