The games industry seems to be going through some sort of a larger shift in focus from traditional single-player releases to live-service titles which continually rake in revenue for dozens of months. The live service format was once limited to studios that were considered to be the cream of the industry, but better technology has made it more approachable for even smaller scale AA studios to dabble into this genre, and games like Tribes of Midgard, Splitgate from 1047 Games, and Rocket League are great examples of this.
Part of the reason for this shift can be attributed to the massive budgets that are required to develop and produce blockbuster AAA games that push for cutting-edge both in terms of visuals and gameplay. It has become somewhat of an exclusive club for that fact alone. It has become somewhat of an exclusive club for that fact alone, since it isn’t feasible for lesser studios on a tight budget to make experiences that rival the best of the best.
The Chinese region has been a major hub for developers pushing for this competition, with Black Myth: Wukong and Faith of Danschant: Hereafter being two of the standout highlights. While a lot has already been talked about the former, the latter is still relatively shrouded in mystery – so what the hell is exactly Faith of Danschant: Hereafter?
Well, Faith of Danschant: Hereafter is an action RPG set against the gorgeous backdrop of Chinese mythology, where players assume the role of Xing Yuan – a demon slayer out and about to rid his village of the hideous beasts that threaten the citizens. Of course, things quickly go south when his loving daughter gets kidnapped by a demon and the duo then gets embroiled within a larger narrative. Hereafter is a sequel to 2017’s Faith of Danschant – so references and mentions of past events and characters are a given.
Faith of Danschant: Hereafter seems to be making great use of its setting with great art direction, and the visuals certainly look impressive. The developers have revealed that Faith of Danschant: Hereafter uses Unreal Engine, although it’s yet to be confirmed whether it’s Unreal Engine 4 or 5. Considering many next-gen titles like Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 and Black Myth: Wukong are switching over to Epic’s latest and greatest, it wouldn’t be surprising if Faith of Danschant: Hereafter decides to switch it over to.
2017’s Faith of Danschant was a turn-based RPG, and the sequel seems to be aiming for a radical shift towards a more action-oriented experience with the new martial-arts-inspired combat moves. From what’s shown in the trailer, the combat is extremely fast-paced and stylish – and clearly wears its inspiration from Chinese martial arts movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero on its sleeve. Protagonist Xing Yuan is quite nimble with his moves, and chaining together brutal combos is looking great fun right now. There seems to be a larger focus towards parries and blocking, as evident from the trailer but it’s flashy and combo-heavy at the same time – which results in a system with a lot of moving parts that should allow it to remain fun right from the outset while giving players a number of things to learn and master over its runtime.
Another interesting aspect of Faith of Danschant‘s combat has seemingly been pushed towards the wayside in the trailer. When Xing Yuan first encounters her daughter, fellow soldiers of the village form a sort of shield around themselves. Yuan refers to it as a formation, and orders the band of soldiers to stay put while he fights the demons. The soldiers also refer to him as the captain, which could hint towards a party system where Yuan could command companions to get into such formations and assist him in battle. If true, this could lend some interesting depth to the combat system as players continually issue commands to companions all the while juggling between dozens of enemies. However, given the fact that the particular combat sequence in the trailer ends in a scripted manner with the same mechanic not appearing again – it could just be a one-time affair as well.
In addition to combat, Faith of Danschant: Hereafter has equal parts focus on parkour as well, with protagonist Xing Yuan being able to effortlessly scale up bamboo trees. This certainly seems intriguing, and getting to higher ground also allows for air executions. The trailer showcases an encounter where Yuan has some time to formulate a strategy before going down for the initial blow, which seems to be adding some strategic depth in what is a fast and frenetic combat system. In addition to bamboo climbing, Yuan can also double jump and run across walls – and the developers have crafted a series of parkour challenges that will test players’ agility. An interesting point worth noting here is that parkour sections might have a bit of freedom in how players choose to get where they want to go – which should open the door for interesting side-paths and exploration.
There are also boss fights of course, and the trailer showcases the protagonist Yuan duel against an evil tree lady of sorts which has a lot going for it. The fight starts with a parkour challenge and the main duel features equal use of both parkour and combat prowess, with some great boss moves on show here. The trailer ends with what looks to be a second phase of this fight, which would probably provide more of a challenge and build-up on mechanics introduced in the first phase. The visual designs of the boss look equally daunting and intriguing, giving more than enough reasons to be hopeful about these fights turning out to be the highlight of the game.
Currently, there are no confirmed release dates and platforms to speak of. Faith of Danschant: Hereafter – unlike its predecessor – will be releasing globally with English language support. Beijing Joyfun states that it is coming to PC and consoles, although no specifics for next-gen or old-gen support have been detailed as of yet. To be on the safe side, it seems fair to assume that the game wouldn’t arrive at least until 2023 – which makes a great case to abandon the last generation of consoles in favor of a truly next-gen experience.
Faith of Danschant: Hereafter looks amazing right now, featuring a plethora of moving parts on a massive scale – which is an achievement for a lesser-known studio. This is in some ways reminiscent of Biomutant, which was a similarly large-scope project from a similarly less-experienced developer. Experiment 101 tried to do a lot of things with its game, but failed in meeting expectations for the promises it put up to fans. Beijing Joyfun can learn a lot from Experiment 101 in this regard, most importantly that focusing on the core tenants of the experience and polishing it to an immaculate degree rather than trying to push for the most features and systems within the experience.
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