Rapier Wit

Supergiant Games's new joint Transistor is the latest game to feature a talking weapon, so here's a look at a few other examples.

Creating a conversational partner out of a tool has always struck me as an interesting attempt to anthropomorphize the only "partner" many RPG and action game characters have at their side. There are also the fun narrative hurdles of justifying why a sword is even able to belittle their owner's lack of fencing finesse in the first place, beyond simply saying "well, it's a magic sword, doy." We could also be talking about a soul trapped in the blade, a polymorph gone awry, or some other interesting contrivance to explain a sassy scramasax or flippant falchion.

As always, additional suggestions are welcome below. I'm aware I'm missing some of Dante's weapons, but then I really need to play more of that series at some point, if only to understand why everyone was so indignant about the last one.

List items

  • The eponymous Transistor is apparently a sword that talks to Red, the mute songstress who drags it across the floor, dulling its edge. Probably along the lines of "ouch, stop" and "just pick me up, damn it woman". I have no idea, it's brand new and I can't afford brand new games. Who am I, the Sultan of Brunei?

  • Dust's Ahrah is an enigmatic sword that knows far more than it's letting on, but at least manages to point the eponymous Dust towards where he's needed. He does have a fairly good reason for being so vague, though that doesn't mean Dust has to like being kept in the dark (though it would help in that regard if he took off his hat once in a while).

  • Lilarcor isn't the best sword in the game, but many players prefer to pair off the far-too-eager weapon of death with another simple-minded but loveable buffoon: Minsc the Barbarian. Their buddy cop banter is often inspired.

  • The eponymous Azoths are immensely powerful blades that exist to either protect the world or destroy it, presumably depending on whether they're getting held by the hero (Azure) or the enemy (Scarlet). They're also annoyingly ambiguous, but then what millenia-old talking sword isn't these days?

  • Musashi has two swords: Fusion, who is too well-behaved to ever speak, and Lumina, a sword that talks like a computer to him through telepathy whenever he finds one of the McGuffin-esque Scrolls that makes it stronger. Of course, there's something to be said for ignoring the voices in your head, especially if they're claiming to come from one of your deadly, mystical cleavers.

  • The Swordians are a group of ancient battle commanders who passed their consciousnesses into powerful swords in order to protect the world long after their deaths. While each takes their job seriously (well, besides old pervert Clemente), they each also have a slightly different idea about how best to defend the lands from evil, and most have chosen mortals that reflect their own personalities and goals. Stahn's sword Dymlos might've preferred waiting around a little longer for someone a bit brighter, though.

  • The semi-recent remake The Bard's Tale, never one to shy away from an RPG clich√©, has a couple of talking weapons. The Ego Blade, who actually manages to out-arrogant Cary Elwes' titular bard, and The Axe, who tries to up the Bard's music game from lute melodies to rocking guitar riffs.

  • Not all talking swords are beneficial to the party, and some aren't even regular sword-sized. The sudden appearance of Exor, the iconic enormous sword that has impaled Bowser's Fortress and remains a very visible threat on the horizon for the majority of the game, makes it clear that Mario might be in over his head this time.

  • Cthulhu ascends the Tower of Heroes to prove he has what it takes to be the savior of the world, though his only motivation for becoming so is to utterly destroy said world the moment his powers return. The ultimate weapon at the top of the tower, Sharpe, is actually more of an autonomous sort as far as swords go, and instead becomes a new party member with his own skills and equipment sets once Cthulhu's groupie Umi convinces the talking blade that Cthulhu is on the up-and-up.

  • Masamune isn't so much a talking sword than a sword empowered by two Mystics who have combined their souls with the blade to make it more effective at banishing evils, such as those created by the pernicious interplanetary porcupine Lavos. Still, nothing stops the duo from popping out of the Masamune occasionally to offer their two cents. Well, four cents.

  • Likewise, Fi is actually a control program that regulates the Master Sword's power, who doesn't quite trust Link enough to get the job done without a few lengthy tutorials and pop-up hints beforehand. Thankfully, future versions of the Master Sword (Skyward Sword is the first in Zelda's convoluted chronology) dials down its programming to a simple "IF (green tunic) THEN (hero of time) ELSE (refuse to budge out of whatever rock sword is stuck in)" line of code.

  • Not a sword, but I might as well bring up the "dead wife soul arm" thing before someone else thinks to do so. Bionic Commando is a dumb game.