The 9 Best Games Set in China

Image credit: Steam

China is one of the largest nations in the world with a fantastic variety of scenery, making it the ideal setting for several video games.

The country has a deeply rich culture and history that involves some of humanity’s deadliest conflicts and greatest achievements.

In addition, Chinese mythology merges history with spirituality and legend, inspiring more developers to create video games with the country’s settings, especially as its gaming market grows.

Video games set in China cut across different genres, from action-adventure to strategy, RPG, etc. If you’re looking for a game that allows you to visit China virtually (whether fantastical or realistic), the possibilities are endless.

In this guide, I’ve compiled and briefly reviewed nine of the best games set in China, including games that are set in Ancient China and others set in a more recent, modern time period of the country.

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends – Complete Edition

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends – Complete Edition (known as Shin Sangoku Musou in Japan) is an action-adventure game and the 8th official entry in the Dynasty Warriors franchise developed by Omega Force.

Tecmo Koei initially launched the hack and slash game on the PS3 in 2013 before releasing it on the PS4, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows platforms.

The tale is based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, an old Chinese historical novel. Despite the game being set in an ancient Chinese era, it doesn’t feature classical Chinese music.

The background music consists mainly of electric drums and guitars. While this may appear to be out of place, it actually suits the game.

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends – Complete Edition focuses on combat. Players assume control of a character that fights their way through numerous enemies across an extensive battlefield. Each character can switch between two weapons at any point during battle.

The developers give stronger emphasis on each stage of the epic battles and are inspired by the ancient Chinese landscapes to deliver diverse visual treats.

Dynasty Warriors 8 features over 40 stages, including sharp ravines, desolate wastelands, huge castles, verdant plains, and other amazing sites.

You can switch between two spoken languages — Japanese and English – and the game offers numerous customization features for even the fussiest players.

If you like the sound of action-adventure games set in China, then Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends – Complete Edition is easy to recommend.

Oriental Empires

Oriental Empires is a fantastic turn-based strategy video game developed by John Carline and R.T. Smith. The game was published by Iceberg Interactive for Windows PC in 2017.

Oriental Empires is set in Ancient China across three periods — Imperial Era, Warring States Era, and Early Bronze Age.

It features classic Chinese music, well-detailed towns, and beautiful landscapes. The game feeds you information about the era, showing how much it appreciates the rich history that it emulates.

There’s also a research tree with philosophical, religious, and cultural branches.

The game’s basic objective is to establish an empire by exploring a hexagonally divided map — that way, you become universally recognized as the Emperor of China.

While exploring the map, players will run into bandits, other empires, and occasional chances to exchange gold for advancement or information.

You’ll start by selecting one of four factions (up to 16 as the game progresses). There are two non-playable (rebel) factions: noble rebels and peasant rebels.

Carefully choose your settlements based on the resources and protection they offer, transforming forests into farmland, constructing buildings, and upgrading your empire’s Authority and Culture.

War and diplomacy are essential mechanics in this game. Other factions might travel to one of your cities to request an audience, or you can ask the same of those you’ve encountered.

You can even attack each other’s factions or armies at will. This excellent first title from Shining Pixel Studios is a must-play for every fan of the 4x strategy video game sub-genre.

Gujian 3

Gujian 3 (Swords of Legends) is a 3D action role-playing game created by the Shanghai-based company, Aurogon Info & Tech.

It was launched on Microsoft Windows in 2018. Compared to previous installments in the Gujian series, it boasts more smooth and free real-time combat experience.

The game expands the open world of Gujian to build on previous installments. The beautiful and vivid graphic design brings the stories, scenery, and people from an ancient period to life!

The story’s background is set in a fictional world built upon ancient Chinese elements.

You’ll experience rich cultural history throughout the game, as well as a nice Chinese/wuxia myth flair that feels completely different from Japanese or Western games.

While it contains a few story missions and side quests, the main story is about Beiluo, a high-spirited swordsman who unknowingly got caught up in the battle between demigods and demonic forces.

The fight, which has been on for centuries, poses danger to the universe’s balance, but Beiluo doesn’t wish to be involved in the whole mess.

The game includes several components of ancient Chinese culture — fashion, architecture, cuisine, Taoism, and mythology.

In fact, the names of every important character in Gujian 3 are derived from the names of popular beverages (alcohol-based) in conventional China.

Gujian 3 is similar to Final Fantasy games in terms of mythology and gameplay mechanism. The gameplay is simple but functional.

Although it can only be played in the single-player mode, Gujian 3 is among the best RPG games set in China.

Total War: Three Kingdoms

The Total War franchise is the ideal game for anyone looking to play historical era-specific strategy games, and Total War: Three Kingdoms successfully captures the legendary status attained by the series.

It’s the twelfth main installment in the Total War franchise, and it was developed by Creative Assembly.

Total War: Three Kingdoms was published by Sega for Microsoft Windows in 2019 and is also available on the Linux and Mac OS platforms.

It’s a combination of turn-based and real-time strategy, where you’ll be responsible for building your empire, trading, diplomacy with neighboring countries, and ultimately, leading the people to victory.

Set in Ancient China during the Three Kingdoms era (220 – 280), you’ll control one of the 11 factions led by prominent warlords, such as Sun Jian, Liu Bei, and Cao Cao. They must unify China and eliminate other factions to become the ultimate rulers.

In siege battles, you can command both cavalry and infantry units. Every unit featured in this game is classified into various retinues, with each headed by a general.

Up to three generals can be deployed on the battlefield at the same time, and you can only win a siege battle after killing all hostile generals or capturing the city’s central point.

As would be expected, Total War: Three Kingdoms is a better-looking game than previous installments in the series, with well-detailed soldiers battling across breathtaking landscapes.

The game introduces new gameplay mechanics that make it not only interesting for newbies to the Total War series, but also for veterans that are already familiar with the premise.

Xuan-Yuan Sword VII

Xuan Yuan Sword VII is an action RPG with a visually pleasing 3D presentation, rich cinematic narrative, and frenetic real-time combat. It’s the seventh installment of the Xuan Yuan Sword series from Taiwanese developer, Softstar Entertainment.

The game celebrates ancient China’s landscape, culture, and civilization, infused with the mystery of its legends in contrast to antiquated technological designs.

It presents a mysterious and familiar world, one of both spirituality and science, that’s waiting to be explored.

Players assume the role of Taishi Zhao, a young man fighting to defend his family and discover the truth about a plaque that threatens China.

The story is based on ancient Chinese mythology and history, and it reimagines both as one chaotic and fantastical realm under the new Xin Dynasty’s leadership.

The powerful Chinese prime minister superseded his Emperor towards the end of the Western Han reign, promising a prosperous and peaceful era.

Instead, years of famine and war have left the nation in ruins, and its deliverance seems to be in the hands of a young Mohist swordsman who gets hold of a fabled artifact known as the Elysium Scroll.

It’s a pretty decent story highlighting the themes of love, loss, determination, and political injustice while taking players across a map filled with unforgiving wilds and unique towns.

The map has several twists and turns, often causing players to retrace their steps or use the quick travel system.

Overall, Xuan Yuan Sword VII offers a fantastic gaming experience and is easily one of the best games set in China.

Sword and Fairy: Together Forever

Sword and Fairy: Together Forever is an action-adventure video game developed by Softstar Technology and China Mobile Games.

It is the ninth entry in the Legend of Sword and Fairy series, and its story is set in China. Sword and Fairy: Together Forever was released for the PS4 and PS5 consoles in 2022.

The story is about a war between earth and heaven — well, not exactly heaven, but a realm filled with immortal deities. The game kicks off with a cut-scene-heavy prologue in the demonic realm.

When Xiu Wu, an immortal being fighting powerful monsters, is about to be bested. However, he escapes to the earth where he meets Yue Qingshu, a young warrior.

From that point, the game progresses into a lengthy story where two mistrustful clans must put aside their differences to fight against the evil forces.

They must also protect a powerful child who can transform into a deity and may be the key to destroying the demons. Xiu Wu and Yue Qingshu will gather a team of four to quest and explore.

Voiced in Chinese and subtitled in English, the story and dialogue are extremely melodramatic. The background sound is also impressive. It combines elements of conventional Chinese orchestral textures with classic tone colors and music.

Sword and Fairy: Together Forever allows players to fully explore its exceptionally beautiful world, with varied environments in unearthly and earthly realms.

It also features long stretches of gameplay involving travel without much interactivity or combat.

Shenmue 3

Shenmue III is an action-adventure video game created by Ys Net and published by Deep Silver for the PS4 and Microsoft Windows platforms in 2019.

The release of Shenmue III gave fans of the franchise a spark of excitement and joy, but it also gave the younger generation of gamers a chance to get familiar with the game, thanks to its slightly improved visuals and easier accessibility.

The story revolves around Ryo Hazuki, a young man who travels to China in search of those who killed his father. The gameplay mainly involves exploring several locations and fighting enemies.

Shenmue III features a flexible melee combo-based combat system that enables players to perform various moves.

The game starts in Bailu Village, an idyllic little hamlet situated within the misty mountains of traditional China.

It is a community with people who live simple, peaceful lives among Buddhist temples, rice paddies, rustic cottages, and fields of beautiful wildflowers. The creep of urbanization spreading across the country is yet to reach this calm settlement.

Although Shenmue III is set in the 80s, Bailu still feels like it was paused in time several years earlier. It’s the ideal setting for a slow-paced title like this.

The rich touch of place, sense of humor, melancholy tone, and oddball charm that got many attracted to the original games are also present in Shenmue III, making it a perfect sequel for fans of the series.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China

While Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China isn’t among the mainline titles in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, it’s a conversation-worthy entry.

Developed by Climax Studios, the game was released by Ubisoft in 2015 for PS4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. The game takes place during the fall of the Ming Dynasty (about the same time Ezio’s storyline ends) in 16th-century China.

The story revolves around Shao Jun, a female assassin briefly introduced in Assassin’s Creed: Embers. Shao Jun returns to Beijing, China after her exploits in Europe, where she was trained by legendary Assassin coach Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

After the destruction of the Chinese chapter of the Assassins Brotherhood, Shao Jun is the sole survivor.

She now knows the key to setting her people free, and her mission is to exact vengeance against “Eight Tigers”, an influential Templar group who rule China and oversaw the wiping out of the Chinese Brotherhood.

Unlike other games in the franchise, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles is a 2.5D side-scroller that brings a more puzzle-like methodology to assassinations and stealth. It features every classic element of the series, from daring parkour to vicious kills and death-defying drops.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China allows players to experience a completely new setting for the Assassin’s Creed franchise in this beautifully stylized world influenced by conventional brush paintings.

You can explore legendary landmarks such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China and encounter prominent historical characters in this action-adventure game.

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition is a remastered version of Sleeping Dogs, an action-adventure martial arts game created by United Front Games.

It was published by Square Enix in 2014 for PS4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. With the remaster, the game is considered to be one of the best mafia games for Xbox Series S/X.

The game is set in modern-day Hong Kong, which is divided into four districts and named after regions in the city.

The story revolves around Wei Shen, a Chinese-American undercover police officer and martial artist who is tasked with infiltrating Sun On Yee, a Triad organization.

The main storyline involves two subplots: Wei Shen must balance between completing the police mission whilst performing illegal activities to prove his worth to the Triad organization, and missions assigned by his leader, such as assassinating Triad members who are disloyal to him.

Gameplay mainly involves Shen’s martial arts skills, shooting, fighting, and parkour abilities, which can be used for exploration and combat on gadgets.

Players will assume the role of Shen and must complete various missions to unlock new content and keep the story going. They may also roam the open-world environment and perform both criminal and legal activities.

That, however, may incite a response from the police and the intensity of their chase is determined by a “heat” system.

You also gain statistical rewards and achievements through actions such as driving, racing, and fighting.

Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition features a large map for you to explore at your own pace, thanks to its open-world nature.

Players can take a break at any time and go sightseeing in the beautiful city of Hong Kong, China, and that’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?