The Mysterious World Of Oriental Gaming: Gu Jian Qi Tan 2

Gu-Jian-Qi-Tan-2August was a busy month for Chinese RPGs with not one but two giants out within a week of each other vying for gamers time and money. For this article I'm going to look at the fresh-faced upstart Gu Jian Qi Tan 2, a game that’s dared to pitch itself directly against RPG behemoth Xuan Yuan Jian 6: to try and put a bit of perspective on that it’s like making a non-name monster-battling RPG and releasing it the same month as the latest Pokemon – more than likely a stupid and futile gesture, and almost certainly commercial suicide.

Except… Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 has, according to the figures I’ve seen published on several websites, outsold Xuan Yuan Jian 6 by a huge margin! Xuan Yuan Jian 6 is reported as selling 300,000 units in it’s first week, while Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 apparently managed 570,000 in nothing more than its first three days. For a genre that’s often steeped in the past it would appear that gamers aren’t afraid to look forward and try something different; with a bit of luck this success may prompt other Chinese developers to leave F2P MMO’s alone for five flippin’ minutes and look at continuing some of the great RPG series that sadly now lie dormant (Fantasia Sango and Wind Fantasy are two series that instantly spring to mind).


Naturally the “2” at the end means that there was a Gu Jian Qi Tan 1 – that came out in 2010 and was rightfully praised at the time for its wonderful story and interesting gameplay. So with the first one being so well received it was initially some surprise and more than a little worry to hear that the main cast were being ditched and the battle system reworked from the ground up into *gasp* some real-time affair with suspiciously MMO-like hotbars across the bottom.

I really had no need to worry though; the main cast of Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 are by and large a lot chirpier than the tortured and/or unfortunate souls of the first game so (as far as I’ve played, anyway) it no longer feels like the script writer’s playing emotional Top Trumps with character backstories and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Battles are actually more like a flashier version of Final Fantasy XII’s party system than an MMO or a regular action game – stats and equipment absolutely do matter as much as in any traditional RPG, but at the same time it is up to the player to execute skills in a thought out and timely manner. There are up to four characters in battle, with the player controlling one and AI taking care of the others. The player can switch between the entire party on the fly if they wish, or if they’d rather focus on just one or two they can issue the AI with a general command for the others such as “Concentrate on healing” or “Don’t use special skills”. The developers have said that it’s designed so that a player will do OK leaving the rest of the team to the AI, but they’ll do better if they take full control.

If that’s still all too much to take in the game has two difficulty levels selectable when starting a new game and there’s no danger of being “brickwalled” by hard mode as the game does give you the option to knock it down to easy if you fail too many times. This may sound a bit “soft” but it’s actually a clever way of sidestepping another issue – third-party trainer programs. You can pretty much expect any big Chinese RPG to have a few of these floating around the internet, programs that allow gamers to do some serious in depth save editing, make them invincible, walk through walls and just about anything else you can think of. Giving players an official easy out in-game means that they’re less likely to go searching for one of these trainers, which ultimately means they’re more likely to experience the game in the way it was intended rather than give themselves ten million HP and flatten the final boss and everything leading up to it in a single turn.


Outside of battle players can expect to find numerous side quests and events, all marked on a mercifully clear map. The game also auto-saves progress and even has the option to replay any key event experienced so far as standard, negating the need to keep a string of saves or having players wait until they’ve finished the game and unlocked some sort of scene viewer just to rechallenge a favourite boss or walk around a pretty area.

It doesn’t even end when the game’s been turned off either – player’s logging in here can check their current party setup and equipment, total play time, check their achievements (yes, there’s really no escape from them) and read the latest Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 news. It’s not the sort of place anyone would need to visit daily but it’s a nice feature to have.

All in all I’m obviously impressed by the game but also, and at the risk of sounding sappy, hopeful too. Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 proves that not only can an offline single player Chinese RPG be a critical success but it can be a commercial one as well, and it doesn’t have to be from a long-standing IP to do it. There’s clearly still room in the modern Chinese market for big budget games like this, long may it continue!

Gu Jian Qi Tan 2 Gameplay Video

Last Updated ( 17 October 2013 )  

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