Heavenly Sword features a mix of traditional melee hack and slash combat, interactive cutscenes, and some ranged combat. Nariko will move from one area to the next sometimes through an interactive cut scene and find herself in an arena battling enemies that number from just a few to a few hundred. After all the enemies are defeated the next area is opened up.
Combat in Heavenly Sword is motivated by recent classics such as God of War and Ninja Gaiden. Compared to those two games the combat falls somewhere in between, requiring more thought and strategy than GOW's mash-friendliess, but not as deep as NG's. There are three different stances that Nariko can assume with the sword: light, balanced, and heavy. The light stance sees the sword transform into two chained weapons that send out fast attacks that deal less damage in a wider area. Balanced mode has Nariko controlling two swords that deal a medium amount of damage, with medium range. Heavy transforms the sword into one big sword that Nariko holds with two hands swinging in slow and powerful arcs. The default stance is the balanced form, with the light stance activated by holding the left shoulder button, and the heavy stance activated by holding the right shoulder button.
Each stance has its own set of combos and combo strings depending on the sequence of button presses. Further combo options are introduced by mixing between stances mid-combo. Unique among combat games, Heavenly Sword features no block button. Instead Nariko blocks automatically if no attack buttons are pressed. You can only block while in balanced or heavy stances. Right before an enemy attacks they will emit a trail of light which indicates what kind of attack they're going to perform, and thus what stance you need to be in for a successful block.
Another integral part of the combat system are counters. Right when the enemy's attack is about to land Nariko can initiate a counter which will deal major damage. Similar to blocking, the color of the enemy will determine which stance is required for a successful counter. While no jump button is found air combos are initiated by jerking the SIXAXIS after an enemy has been launched into the air.
Both interactive and non-interactive cutscenes are used to relate the story, with little to no dialog being spoken during the action and combat sequences. The title of the game follows the main weapon that Nariko uses to seek revenge. The game starts with Nariko's death as she enters a kind of pergatory to come back and kill the people that destroyed her tribe. She weilds the Heavenly Sword a magical blade that kills whoever uses it. The evil king of the land wants the sword for himself which is why he attacks Nariko's tribe.
Reviews have been generally positive so far; Heavenly Sword currently has an 85.3% rating on Game Rankings.