European box art
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment Europe|
|Distributor(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.|
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash|
Heavenly Sword is a video game developed by Ninja Theory exclusively for the PlayStation 3 console and published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. The game was released on September 12, 2007 in North America and Japan; September 14, 2007 in the United Kingdom and Ireland; September 20, 2007 in Australia, New Zealand and Europe; and November 15, 2007 in the rest of world.
The gameplay of Heavenly Sword resembles a martial arts title focused on melee combat while featuring opportunities for ranged attacks. The main character, Nariko, uses a weapon called the "Heavenly Sword" which changes into one of three forms depending on what attack stance the player uses as part of a unique fighting style. Speed Stance provides an even balance between damage and speed, where the sword takes the form of two separate blades. Range Stance allows fast, long-range, but weaker attacks, with the sword being two blades chained together. Power Stance is the most powerful, but slowest style, where attacks are made with the Sword in the shape of one large, two-handed blade.
For exploration and certain battles, the game also makes use of "quick time events" (QTE). During a QTE, a symbol for a certain button or for an action such as moving the analog stick to the right or left appears on screen and the player must match what is shown to successfully complete the scene.
In addition to Nariko, a secondary character, Kai, is controlled for some portions of the game. Many of Kai's stages take the form of sniping missions, using her crossbow to pick off enemies, in some cases to protect characters. While Kai cannot perform hand-to-hand combat, in stages that call for her to explore the level she is able to hop over objects and to free herself from an enemy's grasp by temporarily stunning them.
Projectiles can be maneuvered to their targets using the motion-sensing capabilities of the SIXAXIS controller through a feature known as Aftertouch. Such projectiles include guiding Kai's arrows after she has launched them, and for Nariko, guiding a cannon or rocket launcher, or picking up and throwing objects.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2011)|
Nariko's warrior clan believes in a prophecy of a warrior sent from the heavens with a godly blade (the eponymous Heavenly Sword), to save them from the evil and demonic Raven Lord. When the warrior was finished with his task he left the blade behind on earth. Many men were immediately drunken with the desire to wield its power and murdered over its ownership. It was then that Nariko's clan ended the violence and took on the dangerous undertaking of protecting the sword from such corruption. The clan believed that one day, in a year of the fire-horse (from Chinese horoscope), a predestined male heir would be born and reclaim the sword as its rightful owner. Once this happened, peace and tranquility would return to the land and none would fight over the sword anymore. Their hopes were dashed however when the prophecy was nullified as on the day of the flaming mare, Shen's wife produced not a male child but rather a female child (Nariko) while dying in childbirth. Shen was first tempted to murder Nariko but guilt swayed him, and instead he brought the girl up and trained her to be a warrior.
The game follows the story of Nariko (voiced by Anna Torv), the fierce red-haired warrior whose clan has long protected the "Heavenly Sword", a god's blade of immense power that drains its wielder of their life force. A power-hungry ruler known as the evil King Bohan (Andy Serkis) seeks to obtain the sword to gain its devastating power. Upon beginning the game, the player is immediately thrust into the final battle with Bohan's army. After slaying many of Bohan's soldiers, Nariko can no longer resist the sword's deadly curse. She falls to the ground as the characters of the sword engrave themselves deeply into her skin. After dying, she wakes up and finds herself in an empty clearing. Nariko laments the sword's decision to take her at such a critical moment and begins to recall the last five days before her final battle.
Five days previously, Nariko's clan is assaulted by the first strike of King Bohan's forces. Before she joins the fight, Shen (Ewan Stewart) thrusts the sword into the ground next to her demanding that she take care of it. Nariko fights alongside her father and her clansmen as their defenses are weakened and stretched by scores of Bohan's warriors scaling the city walls accompanied by catapults. As the warriors and Shen escape from Bohan's Army, Nariko protects them until spotting a catapult moving toward the fort. As Shen had earlier instructed her, she flees, as the fortress is apparently destroyed behind her. While fleeing, she passes a large black bird with a golden head, which gives the impression that it is watching her. When Bohan's army captures her father and corners her in a retreat from the clan's city, Nariko has no choice but to wield the sword to defend herself in order to escape. She takes a flying leap off a cliff edge when Bohan's archers begin to fire at her.
Kai (Lydia Baksh) finds Nariko after disobeying Shen's orders to hide and informs her of the temple where her father and clansmen are being held captive. Nariko infiltrates the temple and is ambushed by Bohan's general, Flying Fox (Steven Berkoff). She defeats Flying Fox for the time being and continues on to rescue her father. Meanwhile King Bohan plots to set up a trap for Nariko with his mistress Whiptail (Race Davies). Nariko sees her father dangling from a chain and falls for the bait. Whiptail's guards ambush her but are unsuccessful in their attempt to kill her. Whiptail decides to take Nariko on herself and tells Nariko the truth behind her father's original feelings about her birth - Shen wanted to kill Nariko shortly after her birth, but was unable to bring himself to do so. Nariko tells her father to leave her and fights with Whiptail. After Nariko impales Whiptail with the sword, King Bohan turns up and brutally snaps Whiptail's neck in her dying moments. Nariko passes out and is captured by Bohan.
Nariko awakens and realizes she has lost possession of the sword. King Bohan gleefully informs her that it is safely stored in his armory. Meanwhile, Kai makes her way to Nariko's holding cell. Kai is able to find where Nariko is imprisoned and begs that she comes home with her "like a good girl." Nariko explains to Kai that she needs to reacquire the Heavenly Sword to kill King Bohan. She asks Kai to retrieve the sword and Kai accepts the task. Kai eventually succeeds in finding the Heavenly Sword, only to also discover the corpse of her mother displayed as a gruesome trophy. In a flashback, it is revealed that, some years ago, Kai's mother was murdered in front of her eyes by Flying Fox. In the present day, Flying Fox suddenly appears and attacks Kai, who barely manages to escape with the sword. Bohan decides to throw a spectacle for his soldiers and forces Nariko to fight her own clansmen and Roach's monstrous pets, Orangumen, in a pit. During a battle with these creatures, Kai comes flying from the rafters and throws Nariko the sword. When Nariko defeats all the Orangumen, Bohan orders his own son Roach (Richard Ridings) to murder Nariko. After defeating Roach, both Nariko and Kai flee from the pit. Bohan then commands Flying Fox to kill Kai. As the two try to escape the temple, Flying Fox cuts Kai off from Nariko's safety and they are separated. Nariko desperately tails Flying Fox in order to save Kai from being murdered. When she finally catches up with Flying Fox, he hangs Kai from a rope, dropping her from a great height. Believing Kai to be dead, Nariko screams in grief and rage, before beginning battle with Flying Fox. As Nariko and Flying Fox battle with each other, Kai suddenly stirs and reaches for her crossbow, shooting an arrow into Flying Fox. Her shot pierces his forehead and he falls to the ground, dead. Nariko releases the injured Kai from the noose and returns her to the care of the clan.
King Bohan rallies his men to launch a final attack to regain the Heavenly Sword. Nariko fights alongside her father and clansmen once more despite being outnumbered a thousand to one. Nariko kills countless numbers of Bohan's troops with ease and destroys his catapults. Despite her efforts, the game is brought back to the beginning of the story where she fell to the ground dying. But this time, Nariko reverses her death by making a pact with the sword to protect it from becoming a useless and dusty relic. Nariko descends back onto the battlefield as a glowing white goddess radiant with light. As Bohan looks out over his troops as they are slaughtered he turns to the huge, golden-helmeted raven that is seen repeatedly throughout the game and begs that it bestow him the power to destroy Nariko, referring to it as "my Lord". Bohan gets his wish and the raven spirit enters his body as a smokey black cloud, making Bohan the new, nigh-invincible Raven Lord. An epic battle ensues similar to the one foretold in the prophecy of the sword. After Nariko manages to defeat Bohan, the raven leaves his body, and, despite Bohan begging for mercy, pecks his eyes out and flies away into the sunlight, leaving Bohan screaming on the ground in blinded agony. As Nariko raises the sword to strike the final blow, Bohan's son Roach comes to his father's side and begs Nariko to let him take the pathetic, defeated King Bohan home, which Nariko allows. Though successful in protecting the sword from coming into the hands of ultimate evil, Nariko still must give her life for wielding it, for that is the price for using the almighty sword, and the story comes to its end.
Nariko reflects to her father that she believes they have fought in vain for the prophecy, that she is not a warrior sent from heaven, but rather she chose to be the one who was going to save her people from evil. She took the sword, paid the price and ultimately defeated Bohan's army, but nevertheless she was still a normal woman. She also implies that the sword is not from heaven, as they believed it was, but somewhere else. Nariko heals Kai and gives her the sword for safekeeping, before passing away. At the funeral, Nariko's body is placed into a boat filled with blossoms, and Kai and Shen cast her out to sea.
Heavenly Sword began development in 2002 with footage of the original PC version published on TeamXbox.com in 2004. It had, at one time, been up and running on an early Xbox 360 prototype, but this was abandoned in favor of the PlayStation 3 when the title was picked up by SCEE . The game was developed using Havok Complete, a combination of Havok Physics and Havok Animation.
Actor Andy Serkis, who is best known for his motion capture and voice work for the character Gollum in the The Lord of the Rings movies, performs as the voice and motion capture actor for King Bohan, one of the major characters in Heavenly Sword; he also acts as Dramatic Director for the game and is one of the writers of the story of the game. Serkis is not the only familiar name attached to the game as main character Nariko is voiced by Australian actress Anna Torv, who plays Agent Olivia Dunham in the television series Fringe. Nariko's facial features are also based on Torv's, who participated in motion capture for the game in March 2007.
A demo was released to the PlayStation Store on July 26, 2007 featuring a short, cinematic clip at the beginning and two brief enemy battles, lasting approximately five to ten minutes. An eight-second clip of the game was seen in an episode of the TV series Heroes entitled "Parasite", ostensibly being played by Jessica Sanders and her son, Micah. It featured Nariko running across ropes as they were cut by Bohan's soldiers, before landing on the platform to face them. While the episode was broadcast over four months before the actual release of the game, the level displayed remained in the released build, including the rope sequence shown; the icons in the final game used to inform the player which buttons to press were changed from large, central icons as seen in the clip, to be smaller and positioned at the bottom of the screen. Sony and Ninja Theory have made five 'making of' videos about the production of Heavenly Sword, with each one detailing a certain aspect of the games production, from music to motion capture. The videos can either be unlocked while playing the game or downloaded from the PlayStation Store.
Nitin Sawhney composed the music for the soundtrack. It was performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Stephen Hussey. Tameem Antoniades of Ninja Theory said "we have our big orchestral soundtrack but we wanted to add a more ethnic element and marry those two together. There are actually very few musicians in the world who are experts in both areas. Nitin Sawhney is one of them." Sawhney stated that his creation of "musical textures take in everything from Hollywood, European and Chinese cinema to Indian and middle eastern instrumentation through the orchestras and soloists hovering between sonic tidal waves and reflective moments of intimate grace."
Related media 
A series of Heavenly Sword animated episodes were released prior to the launch of the game itself, acting as a prequel to the events of the game. The series, which consists of five episodes, was produced by London production company Blinkink and animated by CHASE animation studios. The videos were made available both online and through the PlayStation Store. The first two videos were also included on the retail version of the game; the latter three videos were not ready in time to be included. The videos are based on where the heavenly sword is from, the clan protecting the sword, the origins of Bohan, divine birth, Nariko's training when she was a child and battles before the game.
The style of the animated series differs from the graphics of the game itself. The animated series relies on a simple and stylized 2D look, which allowed director Ben Hibon to "create a complete visual re-interpretation of the world and its inhabitants". The videos were produced using a combination of Adobe Photoshop, Flash and After Effects. Initial reference frames were created with Photoshop, which were then animated in Flash and exported as separate layers into After Effects. The layers were composed onto a 3D stage with multiple foreground, middle ground and background elements, which allowed the use of 3D cameras and lighting to give depth and movement to the video.
An CG-animated movie version in currently in production, developed by Blockade Entertainment and scripted by Drive Angry writer Todd Farmer. The announced cast member are Anna Torv, returning as Nariko, Alfred Molina as King Bohan and Thomas Jane voicing Loki.
Nariko appears as a playable character in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
|This section requires expansion. (April 2013)|
|Official PlayStation Magazine (Australia)||9/10|
Heavenly Sword sold over one million copies by May 2008. The game has been praised for its graphics and combat system, while criticism has stemmed from the short length of the game and lack of online capabilities. It received an aggregated score of 80.65% on GameRankings and 79/100 on Metacritic.
GamesRadar featured Kai in the article "Freakish Fashion" in 2007, and Nariko as a "game babe" sex symbol in 2007 and 2009. In 2009, MSN featured Nariko in the article "Gaming's Hottest Babes". UGO featured her among the "Top Animated Hotties" in 2008 and in their list of the best girls in video games in 2010, and also in the article "11 Strong Gaming Girls We Never Saw Again". In 2013, she was ranked as the 18th greatest heroine in video game history by Complex.
Possible sequel 
According to Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades, the story for the sequel has already been written; in fact a whole trilogy is being planned. He stated, "We've had the story for the sequel for a while now. Hopefully, if this game is successful, then there's no reason why there shouldn't be a sequel and we'd very much like to go into that."
On March 21, 2008, on G4's Attack of the Show it was listed on the scrolling banner that Ninja Theory is not planning to create a sequel for Heavenly Sword, and instead has decided to work on a new project (most likely Enslaved: Odyssey to the West). Though information on the decision and the aforementioned project was sparse, it was stated that production time for the new project will span well over two years, and that the project, like Heavenly Sword, will be extremely cinematic.
On May 21, 2008, IT Manager “Peonic” announced that a follow-up to Heavenly Sword would be extremely unlikely due to Ninja Theory's decision to pursue opportunities within multi-platform development:
- "We’re not abandoning HS just on a whim because we want to go off and do something different - there’s a great huge raft of reasons behind us taking the direction we are - and it’s also the nature of the business that I’m not allowed to share any of those reasons with you. As for the ‘you’re just not doing HS2 NOW’ comments - well one thing you learn in this industry is that you never say ‘Never’. So I’m not going to say we’ll “never” go back and make HS2 - but it’s something I personally see as extremely unlikely."
Nevertheless, since SCE retains the intellectual property of Heavenly Sword, there is always the possibility of production on a sequel being outsourced to another developer. A sequel to Heavenly Sword was in-development at SCE Cambridge Studio, but was (possibly) canceled in 2008.
See also 
- "JAM Saved to become Ninja Theory" (Press release). Ninja Theory. 2004-11-16. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- "Heavenly Sword (Xbox)". TeamXbox. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "Heavenly Sword Emotionally Engages PS3 Audience" (Press release). Havok. 2007-09-25. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- "Wonder Why Fringe’s Anna Torv Looks Familiar?". Kotaku Australia. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2009-11-29.
- "Anna Torv's IMDB Biography". IMDB. 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2009-11-29.
- "New Heavenly Sword footage to premiere tonight". GamePro.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- "The Making of Heavenly Sword, Creating the Music". Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "Interview with Heavenly Sword composer Nitin Sawhney". Music 4 Games. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "Media - Heavenly Sword - Animated Series". PlayStation.com. Archived from the original on September 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
- Valledor, Mark (2007-08-09). "Heavenly Sword Prequel". PlayStation.Blog. Retrieved 2007-09-29. "We couldn’t get all the videos done in time to include in the code before QA and manufacturing submission"
- "Interview with Ben Hibon". It's Art Magazine. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- Chris Carle (April 23, 2013). "Heavenly Sword Movie in the Works". IGN. Retrieved 2013-04-24.
- "Heavenly Sword (PS3)". Game Rankings. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- "Heavenly Sword Critic Reviews for PlayStation 3 at Metacritic.com". Metacritic. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- Juba, Joe. "Heavenly Sword". Game Informer Online. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
- "Review: Heavenly Sword for PS3". GamePro. 2007-08-25. Archived from the original on 2007-08-29. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
- Thomas, Aaron. "Heavenly Sword for the PlayStation 3 Review". Gamespot. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- Roper, Chris (2007-08-24). "Heavenly Sword Review". IGN. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- O'Connor, Anthony (October 2007). "Heavenly Sword (Review)". Official PlayStation Magazine (Australia) (8): 60–64.
- Pinter, Justin. "Heavenly Sword Review". PSU. Retrieved 2007-09-18.
- Ninja Theory staff (May 17, 2008). "Official site news". Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Blattberg, Eric (May 27, 2008). "Heavenly Sword surpasses one million mark". PSU.com. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Freakish fashion | Ten examples of what not to wear, even in a video game, GamesRadar US, 2007-11-01
- Game babes: A history | Ogling through the ages, from Atari to PS3, GamesRadar US, 2007-12-14
- Videogames versus the real world - final round! | Over 30 more examples that virtual life is superior to actual life in (nearly) every way, GamesRadar US, 2009-04-09
- Gaming's Hottest Babes, MSN, September 7, 2009
- Top Animated Hotties, UGO, December 2, 2008
- Who Is the Best Girl in Video Games? | The sexiest compilation of ones and zeroes you've ever seen., UGO, May 8, 2010,
- 11 Strong Gaming Girls We Never Saw Again | These lovely ladies were one hit wonders. They deserve so much more., UGO, June 30, 2010
- Rougeau, Michael (March 4, 2013). "50 Greatest Heroines In Video Game History". Complex. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- Inzauto, Eddie (2007-07-23). "Heavenly Sword 2 already written, trilogy planned". GamerNode. Retrieved 2007-07-25.
- "Heavenly Sword sequel extremely unlikely:". Ripten. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- "Heavenly Sword 2 Was In Development, Now Canceled:". gameinformer. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- Tom Phillips (23 August 2012). "Heavenly Sword 2 concept art leaked". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2012-07-23.