Herald rating: * * *
Jade Empire plays out like a mythical version of House of Flying Daggers. There is a story, to which you can pay as much or as little attention as you wish. And there are lots of battles, where you will single-handedly take on dozens of skilful enemies or face them with a comrade. But the game is much more rewarding if you delve into the plot, because Jade Empire is designed to be a big, choose-your-own-adventure story. The dialogue sequences allow you to give one of several responses, similar in a way to Pirates! What you say to various people you meet throughout the game determines your path. In that sense, Jade Empire is much more immersive than some of the other role-players on the market.
You can replay the game making different choices to uncover new snatches of story.
But Jade Empire is a game for role-playing freaks. There are lots of dialogue-heavy interludes where no one even attempts a Chinese accent.
And you will need to learn tricks if you want to last the distance in the fights. Use focus mode to speed through parts of the game and repair your battered body with a dose of Chi.
For all the game's tricks and magic, the fight sequences aren't overly exciting and become repetitive. It is the people the main character meets as he travels through China with the quest of mastering martial arts that keep the game interesting.
Jade Empire is bloody in parts. A cannonball blast from a merchant ship reduces a group of people to a pool of blood early on. Perfect for bloodthirsty teenagers with time on their hands.