tianding cover art

MYSTERY REVIEW / The Legend of Tianding (PC)

It’s time for another mystery review and this one might remind you of some of the classic side-scrolling games dating back to the 80s and 90s. The side-scroller is a genre that has remained a classic for a reason. Riveting stories, action-packed gameplay, and captivating graphics all fall under this category, and The Legend of Tianding takes all of those elements and creates something that is both timeless and new. I’d never heard of this legendary outlaw but, based on the introduction of the game, he seemed akin to his European counterpart, Robin Hood. I was excited to see what was in store.

Liao Tianding, the hero of the game, is based on a character from Taiwanese folklore. I’m no history buff, but I appreciate when game developers bring old tales to life, modernizing them for players of all ages to enjoy. I’d love to see the fairytales of the Brothers Grimm turned into a video game, but that’s a discussion for another day. We’re here to explore 20th century Taipei and the art of Kung Fu.

The feature that stood out most to me while playing Tianding was the art style. I love how there are some three-dimensional elements mixed with the 2D effects. The muted tones of the city capture the lower-class citizens and the dustiness of the roads while the rich tones of the wealthy show the contrast between these social orders. It’s a subtle detail but it helps set the tone. On top of all this, the cut scenes are interspersed with comic book visuals reminiscent of manga graphic novels that remind you of the game’s origin.

Moving onto The Legend of Tianding‘s gameplay mechanics, I’ll admit that I had to review these a few times to remember what each of the controls were. Once I nailed them down, however, it was a piece of cake. I loved that there was a tutorial at the start of the game to learn the combat technique before I encountered any boss battles. When it comes to games, I prefer puzzles and open-world quests, but I was glad to see that the combat didn’t stress me out.

As you progress through The Legend of Tianding’s story, Tianding learns how to steal weapons from enemies, acquires new martial arts abilities; and discovers combo moves for more powerful attacks. Between the beat ’em up action and boss battles are a number of quests that allow you to find collectibles, which strengthen your weapons and increase your power. Almost every aspect of the game serves a purpose so it never really feels like you’re having to fill your time with pointless side challenges.

The Legend of Tianding exhibits the beauty of simplicity. Simple does not mean boring. This is a fresh game with a modern twist on a traditional story that provides the perfect amount of gameplay. It’s not a long game but the hours spent playing it never grow stale as you explore, fight, and unveil different abilities. I’m not one to normally gravitate to side-scrolling games but Tianding captivated me from the beginning and I can see myself revisiting this in the future.

Those of you who love a good fighter can go and grab your copy of this punchy little number here. If you feel that you need a little more convincing we’ll leave you The Legend of Tianding‘s trailer to get the blood pumping before you decide to head into the fight.


This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

The Legend of Tianding
  • 8/10
    Gameplay - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Plot / Writing - 7.5/10
  • 10/10
    Design / Visuals - 10/10

Smashing effort!

 + Stunning visuals and art style

+ Kung fu combat that’s challenging but intuitive

+ Solid voice acting and sound effects  


– Dialogue is sometimes a little lengthy