At first glance, The Legend of Shengdao almost looks like an online game with Iron Man, Kratos (God of War), Dante ( Devil May Cry) and Altair (Assassins Creed); however, once past the character creation screen Shengdao begins to rear its ugly martial arts fantasy head.
Pretty much like every other martial arts fantasy online game in China, Shengdao does very little to differentiate itself from the pack. Apart from the obvious character designs, Shengdao, like many other Chinese online games, takes place in a pan-Asian fantasy world —dragons and all. In this fantastical Asian world, there is an evil emperor who needs to be stopped, and this is where the player comes in.
Starting off, the player can choose one of five classes: an assassin (which looks like Altair), Mars (Kratos), the "gore fiend" (Iron Man), the musician (Dante), and traditional Chinese swords woman. The selection of the character basically sets the appearance of the in game avatar for the rest of the game. I went along with the gore fiend.
At level 1, the gore fiend looks like a very generic metrosexual Asian cartoon character, spiky hair and all, but once the introduction quests are done, the Iron Man suit is available. To make things simple for beginners and lazy people, Shengdao implements my favorite feature in Chinese online games, auto navigation: the player will automatically run to a nonplayable character or the location of a monster. To make things go faster, a mount is automatically given to the player. Unfortunately for Shengdao, its use of the auto navigation function was also a turn off for me. What's the point of a quest if I can auto navigate to any point on the map, including monster locations?
Generic hunting and gathering quests aside, Shengdao doesn't have much to offer in terms of battling. It's basically your regular point and click type of online game—click a monster and your character will keep hacking and slashing until it or the monster is dead. Despite my character looking like Iron Man, the only weapon I had was a comedically big sword. Sadly there are no repulsor rays!
On top of the boring battle system, Shengdao also offered a weird take on the Pokemon dynamic with monster catching. Certain monsters in the game appear with a collar icon; after weakening said monster, there is the chance to capture it and make it into a pet. So far the only thing that pets can do, apart from being eye candy, is help attack monsters.
The only thing that I found slightly in Shengdao was the perhaps its most underrated and under publicized feature, the dual worlds. Within the world of Shengdao, there are basically two worlds that the player can jump in and out of at certain points. For the sake of this article, let's call them A and B.
In world A, everything is pretty much normal. The monsters in world A are creatures such as spiders, lions, and mountain bandits. But a quick jump to world B, the monsters are now grotesque creatures, things out of a sci-fi novel. This element of the dual worlds sort of livened up the game for me. I was mostly interested in seeing what kind of monster was the counterpart to the one that I had just killed. Plus the "dimensional" shift animation made it look like my Iron Man was imploding on itself.
The teleporting worlds aside, I was very disappointed by Shengdao. Looking at it on paper and in its advertising material it looked like something different, but take away the shiny Iron Man suit, Kratos skin, and what have you and in the end Shengdao is like every other Chinese online martial arts fantasy game.
圣道传说 [Official Site]