The Legend of Tianding is an action platformer developed by Taiwan-based Creative Games & Computer Graphics Corporation and published by Neon Doctrine. The game follows the adventures of Liao Tianding through a Japanese-occupied Taipei during the early 1900s and is based on real events of that era. Tianding’s world and story are presented in a gorgeous manga style, flipping between gameplay and drawn images on the fly to narrate the scenes it would never be able to do with the game’s visual style alone. This, along with the unique scenario, really caught my attention and I jumped right into the game as soon as it hit Game Pass.
In The Legend of Tianding, players will primarily be platforming and fighting their way through plenty of enemies. Liao has a fairly decent arsenal on him—he can fight with his dagger, grab ahold of enemies and take their weapons, and kick/punch his way out of trouble. The former skills will also be necessary to platform through some challenges alongside a grappling hook. Punching enemies is good fun and there’s a good amount of enemy and weapon variety to keep your playthrough interesting. Running past enemies is usually the best idea, however, but even if you find yourself getting clobbered the game will always place you as close as possible to your deathbed. You can also set the game to a lower difficulty and get by some of the game’s harder challenges, but the game is no Ori and the Blind Forest so you don’t need to worry about dying a bunch.
The best parts of the game are easily its presentation of and its narrative alongside the boss fights. There is plenty of the former, so for those that don’t quite find themselves interested in the setting and/or Liao’s plight, there’s not much that the gameplay will make up for. To be more specific, the platforming leaves a lot to be desired—levels are simplistic as are the few traps scattered about (and in one particular level’s case, I’d outright call lazy). Liao’s physics are hit or miss, and you can definitely feel it as you grapple hook through tight spots only to barely miss a platform that Liao should have no problem grasping. I also did not find the default controls ideal but thankfully you can change them.
What kept me going was the excellent presentation and cool beats alongside the game’s short and sweet narrative campaign. The game supports multiple languages and the typeface for each one is simply gorgeous. I personally kept it in Japanese just because it almost looked like I was reading the game off an eReader. The game has plenty of bespoke panels that fly in and out effortlessly. If you are a fan of manga or manhwa and are curious about Asian stories (and in particular, those about countries under Japanese rule during the late 1800s), I can easily recommend this game. This is one of those few times I’ll take style over substance. I look forward to seeing what else this developer will come up with.
|Reviewed On||Xbox Series X, PC/Microsoft Store|
|Available On||Xbox One, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC Steam/Microsoft Store|
|Release Date||31st of October, 2022|
|Developer||Creative Games Computer Graphics Corporation|
|ESRB / PEGI Ratings||T for Teen – Violence, Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language, Alcohol Reference, Use of Tobacco / PEGI 16 – Strong Violence|